Director jailed for failing to protect workers from asbestos

April 8, 2024

Director jailed for failing to protect workers from asbestos exposure

From our colleagues at Barbour EHS.

A company director has been jailed for eight months after failing to protect workers from exposure to asbestos at a student development project in Winchester.

Stephen Davies, 59, had set up Cavendish Winchester Ltd with the sole purpose of refurbishing the Winnall Close commercial unit into student rental accommodation. His co-director Neil Bolton, 56, was spared an immediate spell behind bars when he was handed a four-month suspended sentence at Southampton Crown Court on 27 March 2024. The company itself was fined £30,000 – with all three defendants pleading guilty.

An investigation by the HSE revealed the company removed an estimated ten tonnes of asbestos insulating board (AIB) during the refurbishment in late 2019 and early 2020. The dangerous materials were stripped out by workers unqualified to do the job and unaware of the risks to their health.

The investigation arose when HSE received a concern that large quantities of AIB had been illegally removed. The work was all carried out under the direction of Stephen Davies.

The court was told both directors were aware of the considerable extent and quantity of the materials containing asbestos within the building, as they had previously sought legitimate quotes for its competent removal.

However, they chose to save a considerable sum of money by avoiding properly planned, safe removal, by a Licenced Asbestos Removal Contractor. They knowingly exposed workers to significant risk to their health. In addition, the investigation was unable to determine where a very sizeable quantity of asbestos-contaminated debris ended up, such that others in the waste removal chain were likely to have been put at risk too.

All three defendants pleaded guilty to charges relating to a lack of adequate management of the removal of asbestos containing materials.

Both Stephen Davies and Neil Bolton pleaded guilty to Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, by causing their company, The Cavendish Winchester Ltd, to breach Section 4(1) of the Act.

  • Davies, of Petworth, West Sussex was given an immediate custodial sentence of 8 months in prison.
  • Bolton, of Petworth, West Sussex was given a custodial sentence of four months, suspended for 12 month, with 250 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay costs of over £5,123.
  • The Cavendish Winchester Ltd, of Newtown House, Liphook, was fined £30,000.00.

Our Comment

Removing asbestos insulating board correctly is important to protect the health and safety of individuals who may be exposed to its harmful fibres, as well as to prevent environmental contamination. Proper removal and disposal procedures are essential to minimize the risks associated with asbestos exposure.

Asbestos

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This content has been produced in association with our sister company, Barbour.

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