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SITE MANAGER PROSECUTED FOR FAILING TO FOLLOW SURVEY

Community sentence imposed on manager after bricklayer exposed to asbestos

A construction site manager has received a suspended sentence of two months and ordered to carry out 150 hours of community service after directing a bricklayer to demolish a wall comprising asbestos containing materials (ACMs).

On 22 May 2009, Henry Bohlen, 63 was supervising the refurbishment project in Newport, Wales. A full site survey for asbestos had been carried out yet Mr Bohlen failed to check and instructed the bricklayer to manually demolish fascia boards including ACMs.

A hammer and chisel were used to break the board into fragment thereby generating “plumes of dust” and releasing asbestos fibres into the air. The work carried on until until another manager realised the danger. Emergency decontamination action was required.

Architects designed work to avoid ACMs

The client architects had specifically designed the refurbishment work to avoid disturbing any ACMs and the site manager was aware of this fact.  However, additional work was needed the site manager instructed this work to start and did not wait for authorisation or amended plans from the architects.

Henry Bohlen pleaded guilty to breaching Section 7(a) of the Health and Safety at work etc. Act 1974 and was given a suspended sentence of two months. He was also ordered to carry out 150 hours of community service.

Inspector Liam Osborne said:

“Henry Bohlen was a very experienced construction site manager and, by his own admission was aware of asbestos, the risks to health and the correct procedures that ought to have been followed.

Rather than wait for the architect’s plans, consult the site survey, or if that was not available, to have taken a few minutes to check with other parties, Mr Bohlen went ahead and instructed Mr. Jones to do the work, which ultimately exposed him to the potentially deadly asbestos.

This is something Mr Jones will have to live with for the rest of his life – wondering whether his site manager’s lack of consideration might lead to him contracting a deadly disease.”

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