HSE Prosecution ‘Highlights Importance Of Asbestos Handling Regulations’

Birmingham Builders Fined Over Safety Failings


By Rob Dixon

A case which has seen two Birmingham-based self-employed builders prosecuted over exposing both householders and themselves to asbestos has highlighted the vital importance of following regulations when it comes to managing the material, according to a specialist asbestos lawyer.

Harnek Ram of Handsword and Gulzar Singh of Smethwick, trading as G Builders, were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after illegally removing and breaking up asbestos panels at a property in Handsworth in May 2012.

Birmingham Magistrates’ Court heard that the issue arose as neither man held the required licence to remove asbestos boards. They also failed to carry out, or ask to see, a legally required asbestos survey.

According to the HSE, the failings meant that they and the householders were exposed to asbestos fibres, with the clean-up operation by the council also costing more than £6,500.

Both men were fined £2,000 each, as well as costs, in relation to the issue.

Iain Shoolbred, a legal expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office who specialises in acting for people whose lives have been touched by the terrible legacy of asbestos, said the case put a spotlight on the importance of following regulations.

He outlined: "The legal requirements in relation to the handling and management of asbestos removal are in place for a reason. Unfortunately, this case has highlighted the significant consequences that such cases can have, with a number of people potentially being exposed to the deadly material.

"Through our work, we have seen numerous occasions when a failure to follow safety guidelines has led people to be unnecessarily exposed to the material, as well as the terrible long-term impact that exposure can have on victims.

"So many instances could and should have been avoided and it is vital that every effort is made to ensure that safety always comes first.

"This is often thought to be a risk which is in the past, but while builders continue to flout regulations and asbestos continues to be present in so many of our schools and public buildings, awareness needs to be raised of the potential to cause harm.

"Whilst only a small proportion of people exposed to asbestos will go on to develop serious illness, the consequences are fatal."

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