Contractor fined heavily and prison sentence imposed on site manager
Optima (Cambridge) Ltd and site manager Dominik Jaslowski have been prosecuted for failing to plan, manage and monitor construction work revealed by a “catalogue of safety failings” surrounding the unsafe removal of asbestos.
Burton upon Trent magistrates heard that HSE received a complaint in January 2010 from a member of the public that asbestos-containing material had been removed from within the building and walled up in the basement. Investigators found:
- Asbestos – significant area of the building contaminated and a licensed asbestos removal contractor later dealt with some 27 tonnes of material;
- Fire – no fire safety risk assessment carried out, inadequate fire alarm and detection systems, obstructed escape routes, inadequate signage of emergency routes, no emergency lighting and insufficient evacuation procedures;
- Falls – large inadequately protected openings in the first and second floors presenting a fall risk of several metres to the ground below; and
- Legionella – workers were living in the building and one had contracted Legionnaire’s disease.
‘Shocking’ case of failing to plan and manage
Optima (Cambridge) Ltd, of St Saviours Wharf, Mill Street, Southwark, London, pleaded guilty to breaching the HSW Act Section 3, CDM Regulations 2007, Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006, Work at Height Regulations and COSHH 2002 for failing to prevent or adequately control exposure to legionella. The company was fined a total of £63,000 and ordered to pay costs of £16,000.
Dominik Jaslowski, 32, of London pleaded guilty to breaching two counts of Regulation 13(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 Regulations for failing to plan, manage and monitor construction work. He was given a three month prison sentence for each offence, to run concurrently, suspended for 12 months. He was also ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid community work and pay costs of £3,500.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector David Brassington said:
“Our investigations uncovered a whole catalogue of serious errors and safety failings. This was a shocking case of failing to plan, manage and resource this refurbishment project which led to workers being exposed to a range of significant health and safety risks.
Asbestos is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK, accounting for around 4500 fatalities a year. Building owners and contractors have a duty to ensure they protect their workers from risk of exposure.
As site manager Mr Jaslowski should have planned, managed and monitored the construction work. He should not have left workers at risk the way he did.
Buildings undergoing refurbishment should not be used for overnight accommodation. Dutyholders should assess the risk of legionella from hot and cold water systems within buildings undergoing refurbishment and ensure these risks are managed.”