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Managing asbestos

Published: 29/03/18

Managing asbestos

Let's hope this news piece from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) proves to be a salutary tale. When dealing with asbestos all tradesmen need to be crystal clear about the regulations on what they are permitted to do. Due to a lack of proper care and attention, what should have been a relatively straightforward job has risked the health of a whole family, created a very expensive mistake for the builder, and no doubt an immense amount of stress for all involved.

A Wigan building contractor has appeared in court after exposing a home owner and her family to asbestos while carrying out a garage conversion.

Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard that Mr Anthony McGrath, trading as Winstanley Construction, carried out asbestos removal work during the conversion when he was not licenced to do so and failed to carry out this work in a safe manner resulting in asbestos contamination in the ground floor of the house.

The HSE investigation into the incident at Bassett Grove, Wigan found Mr McGrath had removed Asbestos Insulating Board ceiling panels from the garage, broken them up, and placed them in the garden for several days. When the home owner queried what the boards were, she was told it was asbestos, but they were safe and would be removed soon.

After ringing the local council the home owner then contacted a licensed asbestos removal contractor who confirmed that the boards were Asbestos Insulating Board and should be removed under controlled conditions. Asbestos contamination was found in several areas of the house and the householder was unable to re-enter the house for more than a week while a clean-up operation costing in excess of £12,000 was carried out.

Mr McGrath pleaded guilty to breaches of Regulation 10 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and Regulation 8 (1) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.He was fined £475 for each breach and ordered to pay a compensation order of £7,500.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector David Norton said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices. Companies and individuals should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards”.

Further information

The HSE says:

  • Asbestos still kills around 5000 workers each year, this is more than the number of people killed on the road.
  • Around 20 tradesman die each week as a result of past exposure
  • However, asbestos is not just a problem of the past. It can be present today in any building built or refurbished before the year 2000.

There is a wealth of information about asbestos and its handling on the HSE website, including licensed and non-licensed work, plus help with carrying out risk assessments and safety controls. 


For specialist insurance cover, whatever your trade or business call Flint on 0208 309 5000.


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