Company fined £80,000 after director jailed for removing asbestos across Great Britain
From our colleagues at Barbour EHS.
An unlicensed asbestos removal company has been fined £80,000 after its director was jailed after failing to ensure the safe removal the dangerous product.
In September 2021 at an address in Stockport, Asbestos Boss Limited removed an asbestos insulating board ceiling from a domestic integral garage with little to no control measures in place. The asbestos waste was then dumped at the property of the resident, littering the road and pavement with asbestos material.
Asbestos Boss Limited and its director/manager, Daniel Luke Cockcroft, advertised as a licensed asbestos removal company and removed licensable material from domestic properties.
The joint investigation by the HSE and Stockport Trading Standards revealed a number of similar cases of licensed work being done across the country. There were little to no precautions taken and so their own workers, as well as anybody at the premises they were working on, were at serious risk of exposure to asbestos. It was also discovered that Asbestos Boss Limited provided fake air test certificates and waste transfer notes to customers and had also falsified asbestos training certificates and insurance documents. The company and Daniel Cockcroft also breached a prohibition notice on several occasions.
The additional sites identified by Stockport Trading Standards proved that Asbestos Boss had breached the Prohibition Notice and caused additional spread and exposure. One such case was the removal of asbestos insulating board from 20 service cupboards which Asbestos Boss charged £3,000 for their illegal work. The work was of such poor quality, it has resulted in the site owners receiving remedial quotes from licensed contractors in the region of £50-£64,000 to make them safe.
At Manchester Magistrate’s Court in March, company director Daniel Luke Cockcroft of Darnes Avenue, Halifax, pleaded guilty to all charges and was immediately imprisoned for 10 months and ordered to pay victim compensation.
At the same hearing in March, Asbestos Boss Limited of Old Gloucester Street, London was found guilty of breaching regulations 8(1) and 11(1)(a) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. They were also found guilty of one charge relating to the failure to comply with a prohibition notice at two separate addresses which prevented them from working with licensed asbestos materials. The company was also sentenced in relation to their conviction for fraud in relation to falsifying training certificates, a business insurance document and unauthorised use of trade association logos. This gave the impression that the business was credible and that workers were adequately trained and competent in relation to asbestos removal.
In the sentencing hearing, the company failed to attend or offer any mitigation and was sentenced to pay a fine of £80,000 as well as compensating the victims for the full costs of the work paid for at the time. This combined compensation order totalled around £10,000.
HSE Inspector Matt Greenly said: “Asbestos is a killer. Companies and their directors need to recognise the dangers of removing asbestos by themselves both to their employees and others. Asbestos removal should only be carried out by trained personnel who understand the risks and how to control them.
“Asbestos Boss Limited have deliberately removed a highly dangerous material resulting in a significant risk of exposure to cancer causing asbestos. They not only have put their customers at risk but have also undoubtedly put themselves, their workers, and their families at serious risk.
“In sentencing the company to such a large fine, Judge Begley said that a message needed to be sent out to anyone who involves themselves in this sort of a scam. The Judge went on to say that Asbestos Boss is a scam operator and has duped a number of people, placing them at risk from the scourge of asbestos.”
Using licensed asbestos removal contractors is crucial in minimising the risks presented by asbestos, as they have the expertise to carry out asbestos removal safely and in compliance with all applicable regulations. This case unfortunately illustrates that there are still some people who are prepared to break the law and take serious risks with the future health of their staff and others.
At William Martin we have a nationwide team of experts who offer a comprehensive range of health and safety compliance services. As part of the Marlowe Software, Risk & Compliance division, William Martin also has access to a wider range of complementary services.
This content has been produced in association with our sister company, Barbour.
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