A company contracted to remove asbestos from a Manchester re-development faked documents to obtain a work license. Excavation and Contracting (UK) were employed to remove deadly asbestos from Manchester Hall. However, it was later discovered that the operations manager, David Lloyd, had forged numerous documents. The forged documents included medical and training certificates which allowed the company to obtain an asbestos-removal licence from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
On the first day of the company’s work on site HSE inspector, Matt Greenly visited. His suspicions were immediately aroused when he saw a training certificate dated after the company, which had supposedly issued the certificate, had closed.
Excavation and Contracting (UK) were prosecuted for breaching the control of asbestos regulations and ordered to pay a fine of £13,000 and costs of £10,000. David Lloyd and another company manager, Lee Cooper were also prosecuted, with both pleading guilty to breaching the control of asbestos regulations. They were fined £1,000 each and ordered to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work.
HSE issued a license despite receiving fraudulent documents
The forged documents allowed the company to obtain an asbestos licence from the HSE. They operated for four years from March 2012. This is a very worrying case – not only had a company been carrying out asbestos removal work without the necessary training, but the HSE issued an asbestos licence after reviewing fraudulent documents. The fraudulent documents listed a training company which had closed down before the fake documents were supposedly issued, and a doctor who had retired before the supposed date of issue of medical certificates. These irregularities could have been picked up before the licence was given.
How dangerous is asbestos?
Many people think that asbestos is no longer an issue and that the dangers no longer exist. Unfortunately, this is completely wrong. Asbestos was not banned in the UK until 2000. Any house or building constructed before then could contain asbestos. In many cases the asbestos will be contained in a good condition, which means that it is unlikely to cause any problems. However, when asbestos is in a poor state of repair and the fibres become airborne it becomes extremely dangerous.
Removing asbestos disturbs it and makes it dangerous. This is why it is so important that the removal of asbestos materials is completed by licensed professionals who know how to safely handle the deadly substance. Some asbestos-related conditions such as asbestosis and asbestos-related lung cancer can only develop after very heavy exposure to asbestos. However, the incurable asbestos cancer, mesothelioma, can develop following low level exposure.
Thankfully, not everyone who is exposed to asbestos goes on to develop an asbestos-related condition. However, as there is a latency period of between approximately 10 to 50 years from the exposure to asbestos to the development of symptoms of an asbestos-related disease, anyone who is exposed will have years of worry that they might be affected in later life.
This is why there are such strict regulations concerning the handling of asbestos and why licences are needed for companies to carry out this type of work. It is extremely disappointing to see a company go to such lengths to deceive the HSE when there are such high stakes with regards to employees’ health and the well-being of the public in general. It is encouraging to see the court take this matter seriously and we hope that the HSE will learn from this case and carry out more stringent checks on documents before issuing asbestos licences in the future.
How can we help?
If you require assistance in pursuing an asbestos claim please contact us today on our freephone number 0800 038 6767. Alternatively, head over to the ‘Contact Us’ page, complete the form and we will be in touch.