Fine Over Manchester College Asbestos Exposure

Supervisor Prosecuted After Unannounced Inspection Reveals Safety Failings

25.10.2013

An asbestos removal contractor has been fined after workers under his supervision were exposed to the potentially deadly material at Trafford college in Stretford, Manchester in December 2012.

Steven Kelly, a supervisor for Manchester-based asbestos removal firm, Winsulate, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive after inspectors carried out an unannounced visit to the college and found three workers at the site were removing asbestos without the use of suitable protective clothing.

Trafford Magistrates’ Court heard that the workers, who Mr Kelly was supervising, were wearing their own clothes instead of disposable clothing under their overalls and half masks instead of full-face respiratory masks. 

The workers had been put at serious risk of breathing in asbestos fibres and getting fibres on their clothes.  Their families were also put at risk of asbestos being brought into the home on work clothes.

Mr Kelly was fined £790 and ordered to pay costs of £250 after he pleaded  guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to take reasonable care of workers under his supervision.

Expert Opinion
Despite all the regulations and the sheer amount of information in the public domain about the dangers of asbestos this contractor failed to take precautions and put his workers and their families at risk. To save a few pounds on the cost of proper respiratory protection for his employees Mr Kelly put their lives at risk.

“Questions should be asked about the system for granting asbestos removal licences and monitoring licensed contractors given the shocking practices of this one. Employers should be aware that there is no safe level of asbestos and there is no safe type of asbestos – that’s a myth.”

“This case is particularly alarming considering Mr Kelly was said to be ‘a trained supervisor’ in asbestos removal. Of course we are pleased to see a rare occasion when the HSE prosecute a contractor for cutting corners with safety but the fine is pitifully small given the serious potential consequences for the workers involved.

“Such a small fine does not act as a deterrent to others. More than 2,000 people are dying every year from mesothelioma, the cancer caused by asbestos exposure. We work hard to get them the justice they deserve from their past employers who took a chance with asbestos and ignored the risks. The priority is to stop exposure happening in the first place and there is no excuse for taking chances with asbestos in this day and age.”
Geraldine Coombs, Partner