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    Contractor demolished building knowing asbestos was present

    A demolition contractor has been sentenced to 26 months in prison after admitting illegally removing asbestos from a building on which he was working.

    David William Briggs (trading as Briggs Demolition) ignored an asbestos survey whilst demolishing the former Oakbank Training Centre in Chadderton, Oldham.

    The firm advised the site owners to have the site surveyed for asbestos before demolition began and Mr Briggs recommended a suitable surveyor and the site owner paid for a full asbestos survey to be carried out.

    HSE told the court that Mr Briggs chose to ignore the asbestos survey report which identified approximately 230 square metres of asbestos materials throughout the buildings. He began demolition without having any asbestos removed safely.

    When HSE visited the site in 2015 half the buildings had been demolished or partly demolished. When Mr Briggs was asked if the asbestos had been removed he denied there was any on site.

    HSE prohibited work until the extent of the asbestos disturbance could be established. Further investigation confirmed the findings of the original asbestos survey report and identified hazardous asbestos in the remaining buildings.

    The court heard that three workers were potentially exposed to asbestos fibres. Local residents and passers-by were also at risk due to the uncontrolled method of demolition where large amounts of asbestos were present.

    Wilfully ignored professional asbestos survey

    David Briggs was charged with failing to protect the safety of his employees, failing to protect the safety other persons not employed by him, i.e. members of the public, failure to prevent the spread of asbestos and one count of illegally removing asbestos materials without a license.

    David William Briggs of Wellington Street, Bury, pleaded guilty at Manchester Magistrates’ to breaching Section 2(1) & Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Regulations 8 (1) and 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and was sentenced to 24 weeks imprisonment.

    HSE inspector Matt Greenly said after the case:

    “Mr Briggs wilfully ignored a professional asbestos survey, instigated by himself, and in doing so failed in his duty to protect his workers and anyone else around this site from a foreseeable risk of serious harm. Asbestos related diseases are currently untreatable and claim the lives of an estimated 5,000 people per year in the UK.

    Anyone who worked on this site at this time, due to the lack of care taken by Mr Briggs, could possibly face a life shortening disease at some point over the next 30 years from an exposure which was totally preventable. This case sends a clear message to any individual or company that it does not pay to ignore known risks on site, especially to increase profits at the expense of people’s lives”.

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