February 18, 2019

Trader left deadly asbestos dust at couple’s Leeds home

Trader left deadly asbestos dust at couple’s Leeds home



A Trader who exposed a Leeds couple to potentially dangerous levels of asbestos dust has been given a suspended jail term.

Clive Raper, 49, took a job to remove asbestos insulating board from the garage of the couple’s home in Bramhope without a legal licence.

Trading as Bramley Asbestos Removals, he hired workers to help him but failed to take vital safety precautions or implement legal controls to protect people and the environment.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Raper for safety breaches after investigating the incident in July 2011.

The court heard Raper left asbestos debris and residue at the site, compounding the owners’ risk of inhaling the potentially cancer-causing substance.

They were so concerned with how the garage was left they contacted Leeds Council, which reported the matter to the HSE.

Raper, of Fawcett Gardens, Lower Wortley, admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Control of Asbestos Regulations.

He was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay £260 in costs.

HSE inspector Paul Yeadon said: “It is appalling that a trader who is fully familiar with the restrictions governing asbestos wilfully ignores them and puts a household and the workers he has hired in danger.

“It would appear that he has put profit ahead of the health and wellbeing of others, and in this case quite bafflingly, he put his own health at risk as well.

“We were unable to identify the two workers involved as Mr Raper could not provide their full names or contact details. We do think, however, that they were probably both exposed to asbestos fibres above the action level.

“This kind of work must be carried out by competent people with the necessary licence.”

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Trader left deadly asbestos dust at couple’s Leeds home

UK health and safety chiefs hit back in asbestos app row

An asbestos removers’ trade group had criticised the HSEs new Beware Asbestos app, but now the authority has moved to counter criticism

Health and safety chiefs have hit back at claims a new online advice service for North East workers could put people at risk of asbestosis and mesothelioma.

The Beware Asbestos app was attacked by the United Kingdom Asbestos Training Association which said untrained people may be encouraged to try and remove the potentially deadly material themselves.

Now the Health and Safety Executive have moved to counter the criticism, with a spokesman saying the authority was dismayed by the reaction to the campaign, which had won the backing of former Newcastle United defender Stuart Pearce.

“HSE is surprised and disappointed that UKATA appears to be arguing for the removal of free advice aimed at those who might otherwise remain unaware of the risks they face with regards to asbestos,” a spokesman said.

“HSE’s Beware Asbestos campaign is aimed at, and reaching, thousands of trades people and workers who undertake jobs on a daily basis that intentionally or unintentionally disturb asbestos.

“Many of these workers are ignorant of the risks they face when they carry out common tasks such as drilling holes in textured ceilings and replacing old panels around baths.

“The web app takes already existing advice on how to do these tasks safely and presents it in an easy to understand way that workers can carry around with them. “The web app is very clear in stating what jobs tradespeople must not do, and indeed helps them to find and contact licensed asbestos contractors in their area who can do those jobs for them.

“While commercially available training courses, such as those provided by UKATA’s members, play an important part in educating workers on what they must do, it is also vital that as many workers as possible know about the risk they face from asbestos and of the simple measures they can follow to protect themselves.”

Around 2,100 people in the UK are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year and it is almost always fatal, with most of those affected usually dying within 12 months of diagnosis.

The North East – particularly Newcastle, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Sunderland and Hartlepool – is a blackspot for asbestos-related diseases, as it was used in shipbuilding, construction and the automotive industry.

A ‘standardised mortality ratio’ is used to identify blackspots, where a figure of 100 would be the expected number of deaths, given the age of the population. But in North Tyneside the figure is much higher, at 309; in South Tyneside it is 303; across the Tyne and Wear Metropolitan County the figure is 235; and in the North East it is 170.

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UK health and safety chiefs hit back in asbestos app row

New campaign on asbestos exposure

Construction workers and tradespeople including carpenters and painters could come into contact with asbestos more than 100 times a year, with few knowing whether the deadly dust is in newer buildings, according to a report.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched a new safety campaign amid concerns of confusion on how to combat exposure to asbestos.

With 20 people dying every week from asbestos-related diseases, the HSE revealed some common myths, such as drinking water or opening a window to keep workers safe.

A survey of 500 tradespeople showed that fewer than a third could identify the correct measures for safe asbestos working, while only 15% knew that the dust could still be found in buildings built up to the year 2000.

Fewer than one in five knew that asbestos could be hidden in toilet seats and cisterns.

Health and safety minister Mark Harper said: “The number dying every year from asbestos-related diseases is unacceptably high. Despite being banned in the construction industry, asbestos exposure remains a very serious risk to tradespeople. This safety campaign is about highlighting the risks and easy measures people can take to protect themselves.”

Philip White, HSE’s chief inspector for construction, said: “Asbestos is still a very real danger and the survey findings suggest that the people who come into contact with it regularly often don’t know where it could be and worryingly don’t know how to deal with it correctly, which could put them in harm’s way.

“Our new campaign aims to help tradespeople understand some of the simple steps they can take to stay safe. Our new web app is designed for use on a job so workers can easily identify if they are likely to face danger and can then get straightforward advice to help them do the job safely.”

Steve Murphy, general secretary of construction union Ucatt, said “Construction workers are the greatest risk of being exposed to asbestos. Any campaign that warns workers of the dangers of asbestos is to be welcomed. However the campaign needs to be as wide ranging as possible and should not be confined to one company to distribute information.

“Over the last four and a half years, thousands of workers have been needlessly exposed to asbestos and their health has been put at risk because of that decision”

“It is vital that construction workers receive proper training in the dangers of asbestos, where it is likely to be found and what to do if you suspect asbestosis present. It is essential that pressure is placed on employers to ensure that training takes place and that workers are not victimised or threatened when raising concerns about asbestos, which is often the case.”

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New campaign on asbestos exposure

NHS trust fined £90k over asbestos

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NHS trust fined £90k over asbestos

Building firm fined for ignoring asbestos warning at school

A Caterham building contractor has been fined £50,000 for ignoring asbestos safety rules after the deadly material was discovered at an independent girls’ school in Woldingham.

Buxton Building Contractors Ltd was fined and ordered to pay £26,217 costs by Guildford Crown Court on Monday (January 13), having pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The firm, based in High Street, Caterham, was carrying out refurbishment work at Woldingham School for Girls in 2011 and had commissioned a specialist survey to search for asbestos, but failed to act when it was discovered in a basement area.

It allowed a number of different contractors, including a teenage apprentice electrician, to work in the area until someone raised the alarm when he broke through the ceiling and exposed asbestos insulation boarding.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) began an investigation in July 2011 and prosecuted the company for safety breaches.

Guildford Crown Court heard the firm was the principal contractor remodelling the school’s dining area and kitchen.

After a surveyor was employed to look specifically at the undercroft area – which had been omitted from an earlier asbestos report – and the survey highlighted the presence of the hazardous material, Buxton Building Contractors failed to deal with it or provide any safeguards for workers on site, the court was told.

Workers had unrestricted access for at least two weeks but the area was sealed off by a licensed asbestos contractor once an employee discovered the material.

Buxton Building Contractors admitted a breach of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 by failing to plan, manage and properly monitor the construction work at the school.

After the court hearing, HSE inspector Melvyn Stancliffe said: “This was a serious failing on the part of the company.

“Having correctly commissioned an asbestos survey, it looks as though no-one at Buxton Contractors Ltd bothered to read it.

“Or if they did, they disregarded its contents and failed to act to protect site workers from exposure to what is one of the deadly killers in the construction industry.

“As a result, several people, including the young apprentice, were unnecessarily exposed to the risk of inhaling asbestos fibres.

“One can only wish and hope that there are no serious consequences for these workers in the future.

“It is vital that companies are fully aware of not just the duty to get an asbestos survey done, but then to act on its findings.

“There is considerable guidance freely available from HSE to assist duty-holders to deal with asbestos materials properly.”


Building firm fined for ignoring asbestos warning at school

School asbestos removal worker dies

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School asbestos removal worker dies

Board fined over hospital asbestos

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Board fined over hospital asbestos

School asbestos funding warning

Uses of Asbestos

Cwmcarn High SchoolMore than 900 pupils have missed classes since Cwmcarn High School was closed on Friday

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A teaching union has warned of the possible cost implications as it welcomed a move to make Welsh councils report on all schools’ asbestos levels.

Education Minister Leighton Andrews issued the order after Cwmcarn High School in Caerphilly county closed unexpectedly due to asbestos concerns.

The NASUWT said it was glad the matter was being taken seriously.

But it warned of “massive issues” about raising funds to remove the material at a time of education cuts.

Start Quote

There is a potential for this to raise massive issues about the funding necessary for the safe removal of asbestos”

End QuoteChris KeatesNASUWT general secretary

The 900-pupil secondary school was closed after workmen spotted the potentially hazardous material.

The school will partially reopen on Friday – a week after its sudden closure – with year 12 and 13 pupils told they should report to the school’s performing arts centre at 08:30 BST.

Year 11 pupils will join them back in the school’s new block on Monday.

A meeting will be held the following day to discuss options for the remainder of the pupils.

On Tuesday Mr Andrews said he had asked all local authorities to establish the extent of asbestos in their schools and report back next week.

Mr Andrews called the situation at Cwmcarn difficult and said councils had clear legal duties to do annual surveys.

He said Public Health Wales was providing a health-based risk assessment, and Caerphilly council was looking at a number of options to accommodate pupils as a priority.

‘Major costs’

In response, Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary, said: “We welcome the fact that the Welsh government is taking this potentially life-threatening situation seriously.”

But he added: “There is a potential for this to raise massive issues about the funding necessary for the safe removal of asbestos, as this would incur major costs at a time of savage cuts to education budgets.

“The NASUWT would wish to support the Welsh government in seeking funding for this essential measure.”

Rex Phillips of NASUWT Cymru called for the Welsh government to ensure that councils are provided with a programme for the safe removal of asbestos from schools over time, starting with the schools that present the most risk.

He said: “The only way to make our schools safe is to remove asbestos from them but we recognise the cost implications this raises and that this cannot be done overnight.”

NASUWT Cymru has asked the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to investigate the discovery of asbestos at Cwmcarn.

The union said it wanted the HSE to confirm that correct procedures are adhered to.

The HSE has said it was looking to see whether there were grounds for a full investigation.

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School asbestos funding warning

Asbestos school HSE probe call

Uses of Asbestos

Cwmcarn High SchoolMore than 900 pupils have missed classes since the school was closed on Friday

Related Stories

A teaching union says it has asked the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to investigate the discovery of asbestos at a south Wales secondary school.

The 900-pupil Cwmcarn High School was shut late on Friday after a structural report identified the material.

Geraint Davies of NASUWT Cymru said he wanted the HSE to confirm that correct procedures are adhered to.

The HSE said it was looking to whether there are grounds for a full investigation.

Meanwhile, Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams has called for a national audit of asbestos in schools in Wales.

Start Quote

When a school of 900 pupils has had to close because asbestos was found in airborne particles, I think that people across Wales have a right to know if asbestos is a danger in their local school”

End QuoteKirsty Williams AMWelsh Liberal Democrat leader

Caerphilly council has said public health officials would report on the situation at the school on Tuesday.

The announcement that the school was to close with immediate effect came on Friday afternoon.

The council said the action had been taken to safeguard the health and wellbeing of pupils and staff.

Mr Davies told BBC Wales on Tuesday: “In simple terms this is a health and safety matter and the Health And Safety Executive provides independent advice on such matters.

“In view of the seriousness of what has happened at Cwmcarn it’s only fair to all concerned, be it teachers and anciliary staff, parents and pupils and indeed the council itself, for such independent advice to be available.”

An HSE spokesman confirmed: “We are looking into the issue of asbestos at the school. We have to see whether there are grounds for a full investigation.”

NASUWT spokesman Rex Phillips had earlier raised safety concerns, saying high levels of the material had been found throughout the building.

He said staff and pupils at the school could have been exposed to airborne asbestos.

Mr Phillips said the problem was found when a company visited the school to carry out a survey on a boiler room.

‘Hidden killer’

He said the asbestos was found to be in airborne particles, with two-thirds of the school “inoperable”.

“They have taken the action to close the building because of that and they have virtually got a sealed building at the school,” he added.

Start Quote

Natalie Stock

Everybody knew about it but I’m glad they are getting rid of it.”

End QuoteNatalie StockParent

In the wake of the closure Ms Williams called on the Welsh government to conduct a national audit of asbestos in schools.

“Asbestos is a hidden killer and I am very concerned that pupils, staff and teachers at our schools could be unknowingly exposed to asbestos,” she said.

“I do not want to cause undue alarm, however when a school of 900 pupils has had to close because asbestos was found in airborne particles, I think that people across Wales have a right to know if asbestos is a danger in their local school.”

The Welsh government has been asked for comment.

Caerphilly council said the latest updates would be announced on its website.

It added that it was working with the school’s senior leadership team and governors to explore alternative arrangements for pupils and staff, but this was unlikely to be resolved this week.

The authority said every effort was being made to accommodate pupils in years 11, 12 and 13 as a priority.

It is reported that pupils at the school have been given work to do at home via social networking sites.

Parents with pupils at the school reacted to the closure in Cwmcarn on Tuesday.

Natalie Stock, whose 12-year-old son Jake is in Year 8 said: “The closure of the school was a shock. I don’t think they’ve handled it too well.”

With regard to the presence of asbestos at the school she said: “Everybody knew about it but I’m glad they are getting rid of it.”

Her sister Jolene White, 33, whose 12-year-old daughter Olivia is a a year 7 pupil, said: “It’s a bit of an inconvenience.

“She thinks it’s brilliant having extra time off school.

“Obviously their safety has to come first. I would rather they didn’t have to close it down so they could sort it out.

“I don’t like the ideas of the school being closed permanently.”

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Asbestos school HSE probe call