Prosecutions

Man guilty of exposing public to asbestos gets prison term

A Grantham man has received a suspended prison sentence for deceiving the public about his ability to handle asbestos safely.

A court heard that between 2017 and 2019, Lee Charles of Caldicot Gardens acted as a de facto director of Lincs Demolition Ltd in securing lucrative jobs. He was able to do so by marketing himself as a registered asbestos-removal specialist.

When disturbed, asbestos is a hazardous substance and carcinogenic, something Charles knew, but he also claimed to be registered with the Environment Agency. He was neither a specialist or registered.

The use of asbestos in the UK was subject to an outright ban in 1999, after certain types became outlawed in the 1980s.

Lincoln Crown Court was told Charles pleaded guilty to lying to customers and giving false paperwork to disguise his deception. Having duped his customers, waste asbestos was stashed in hired storage containers in Welbourn, Lincolnshire, just 200 metres from a school and close to a Girl Guide centre.

Charles told the owners of the storage space that he wanted to keep tools there. When he failed to pay the rent on the containers, the owners forced the locks and were confronted with the dangerous contents.

Once exposed, Charles, 40, abandoned the storage containers at Welbourn, moving his activities to an unpermitted waste site in Little Hale, near Sleaford. He continued to store asbestos unsafely, posing a risk to public health.

Imposing a 12-month prison sentence, recorder Paul Mann told Charles, who has a string of previous convictions that he “knew the regulatory regime well enough to know what he was doing was seriously wrong.”

However, he said that he was “just” able to suspend the sentence for a period of 2 years so that Charles could pay the Environment Agency’s costs. Charles will also be required to pay compensation to the owners of the Welbourn containers for the not insignificant costs they had incurred in cleaning up the site.

Charles was told that he must return to Lincoln crown court in June for consideration of financial orders, including the potential confiscation of his proceeds of crime.

Charles pleaded guilty to two counts of operating a waste operation without a permit, contrary to Regulations 12, 38(1)(a) and 41(1)(a) of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016.

He also pleaded guilty to two counts of keeping or disposing of controlled waste in a manner likely to cause pollution or harm, contrary to Sections 33(1)(c), 33(6) and 157(1) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Environment Agency
March 2022

Health and safety failures blamed for 4-year-old drowning at Cumbria holiday park

A risk management company has admitted health and safety breaches after a child drowned in a swimming pool at a caravan site near Grange-over-Sands.

Four-year-old Luca Hurle died after getting into difficulty in the pool at Old Park Wood caravan park in August 2016.

Luca, from Newport had been on holiday with his father Gavin Hurle, stepmother Donna Southcott, and brothers Gabriel and Oliver, when the tragedy happened.

Witnesses described seeing Luca wearing armbands and playing with his family around 15 minutes before he was found unconscious. Emergency services were called, and Luca was taken to Furness General Hospital, before being transferred to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, where he died.

At a hearing at Preston Crown Court Newmac Ltd pleaded guilty to failing to discharge general health and safety duties to a person other than an employee at Old Park Wood caravan park. The company held a contract with Holker Estates, the owners of the park, to conduct risk assessment relating to the use of the pool.

Holker Estates Ltd pleaded guilty to failing to conduct an undertaking in such a way to ensure that persons not in its employment were not exposed to risks to their health and safety; and failing to comply with an improvement notice at an earlier hearing.

An inquest concluded Luca died from drowning and a hypoxic brain injury. Senior coroner Andre Rebello said the death was ‘a tragic accident.’

Holker Estates and Newmac Ltd will return to court on 24 June 2022 for sentencing.

Worker fell from height through scaffolding gap

Infiniti Roofing and Construction Ltd has been sentenced for breaches of safety regulations after an employee fell through a gap in scaffolding and sustained multiple injuries whilst working on a building at Havers Hill, Eastfield, in Scarborough.

On 15 November 2017, a 20-year-old labourer who was working on the roof, fell three metres through a gap in the scaffolding onto an office roof below causing injuries to his left wrist and hand.

The HSE’s investigation found that when the labourer was moving insulation panels on the roof, he stumbled and fell through the gap. Although Infiniti Roofing and Construction Ltd had taken measures to reduce the risk of a fall the scaffolding did not fully extend along the roof in the area where the insulation panels were stacked and stored. The fall caused the labourer to sustain a dislocation to his left wrist and a broken bone in his hand which has required him to undergo several operations.

Infiniti Roofing and Construction Ltd of Cayton Low Road, Scarborough, North Yorkshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company has been fined £22,667 and ordered to pay £7,228 in costs.

HSE
March 2022

News

Hotel evacuated after major fire and explosion
(Scotland)

The occupants of a hotel escaped without injury last week after a major fire and explosion in Aberdeenshire.
Six fire engines were dispatched to the Braemar Lodge Hotel when emergency services were alerted last Wednesday (15 March).

Police Scotland confirmed that the building was evacuated and nobody was injured. Seven guests, two staff and the owner were evacuated to safety.

A large explosion was captured on video, and flames could be seen in the hotel’s upper floor and roof. The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) said initial reports were that a shed was on fire.

It is thought a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinder may have exploded in an external building before the fire spread to the main building.

The SFRS said in a statement: “We were alerted at 07:37 to reports of a shed on fire at Glenshee Road, Braemar.

“Operations control mobilised six fire appliances, one height vehicle and one water carrier to the scene where the fire is affecting a nearby commercial building.”

Guidance / Reports

Asbestos Exposures to Workers in the Licensed Asbestos Removal Industry

In Great Britain there are around 5,000 cancer deaths a year attributed to asbestos, mainly due to past industrial exposures. The import and use of all types of asbestos was banned by 1999. However, asbestos can be present in any building built or refurbished before 2000 and continues to be removed as part of ongoing risk management. Higher-risk removal work can only be undertaken by HSE licensed contractors. Under the Control of Asbestos Regulations, exposure must be prevented or effectively controlled.

This HSE report details research which was undertaken to provide information on asbestos exposures to licensed removal workers in Great Britain and to assess compliance of work practices with HSE guidance.

HSE scientists visited eight removal sites during 2016 to 2019. Removals included asbestos insulating board (AIB), insulation and sprayed coating. The researchers monitored airborne fibre concentrations using samplers and observed work practices.

It is stressed that removal contractors and workers participated on a voluntary basis. The findings are therefore likely to indicate exposure levels and working practices for contractors and workers undertaking licensed asbestos removal who are attempting to adopt good practice. The findings are not intended to be representative of the removals industry as a whole.

There are three main research findings:

  • Asbestos fibres were present in the airborne fibres samples.
  • Some airborne fibre concentrations measured in the study were above the limit.
  • There is scope for further exposure reduction, for example by ensuring that workers wear respiratory protective equipment (RPE) during set up and dismantling of the enclosure used for removal activities.

These findings are being used to inform HSE communication with stakeholders and updates to HSE guidance.

HSE
March 2022

Foam Extinguisher Restrictions Briefing

The FIA has published this guidance, which aims to help the reader understand the current restrictions on foam in UK fire extinguishers.

The document addresses the two restrictions that are already in place:

  • Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS): PFOS was listed as a persistent organic pollutant (POP) in Annex B (restriction) of the UNEP Stockholm Convention on POPs in 2009. Fire-fighting foams that were placed on the market before 27 December 2006 could also be used until 27 June 2011. Any firefighting foams containing PFOS should have been removed from use prior to June 2011 and ethically disposed of. It is noted that a premises shouldn’t have any of these, but the document advises that this should be checked with the extinguisher service provider.
  • Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in foam; “C8” chemistry: this 2020 legislation relates to any substances that can degrade to produce PFOA which includes ‘long chain’ C8 fluorinated Firefighting foams. In summary, C8 fluorinated foams will no longer be able to be used after 1 January 2023 unless the end-users eg FRS’s can guarantee the containment of the foam and subsequent run off. In addition, the use of PFOA, its salts and PFOA-related compounds shall be allowed in fire-fighting foam for Class B fires already installed, until 4 July 2025, subject to the following conditions:
    • Fire-fighting foam that contains or may contain PFOA, its salts and/or PFOA-related compounds shall not be used for training.
    • Fire-fighting foam that contains or may contain PFOA, its salts and/or PFOA-related compounds shall not be used for testing unless all releases are contained.
    • As from 1 January 2023, uses of fire-fighting foam that contains or may contain PFOA, its salts and/or PFOA-related compounds shall only be allowed in sites where all releases can be contained. Most extinguishers containing PFOA being maintained under service contract will have been replaced or refilled using “C6” foam already – ahead of the deadline. Check with your extinguisher service provider.
  • Fire-fighting foam stockpiles that contain or may contain PFOA, its salts and/or PFOA-related compounds shall be managed in accordance with Article 5.

FIA
March 2022

At William Martin Compliance we have a nationwide team of experts who offer a comprehensive range of health and safety compliance services. As part of the wider Marlowe Group, William Martin Compliance also has access to a wider range of complementary compliance services.

For all enquiries, please contact us: enquiries@wmcompliance.co.uk or call our team on 0203 819 8829.

Click to download this Briefing Note – 28.03.22.