Asbestos 'expert' fined over failings

Asbestos 'expert' fined over failings 25683

A man labelled by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) as an asbestos expert has been fined after workers under his supervision were exposed to the carcinogenic substance.

Steven Kelly, 41, was prosecuted by the HSE after three men were spotted in an area of Trafford College where a large quantity of asbestos was being removed. 

It later emerged the individuals worked for Manchester-based Winsulate and were not wearing appropriate protective clothing or masks to protect them from inhaling potentially lethal fibres.

However, Trafford Magistrates Court was told by the HSE that Winsulate had thorough policies in place in regards to workplace safety, but Mr Kelly, who was employed as a fully-trained and qualified supervisor ignored these guidelines and put his staff in danger.

HSE inspectors discovered Mr Kelly sent the three men into an undercroft beneath Trafford College's classrooms, which had been sealed off from the rest of the building, in order to fix a temporary lighting system.

But while they were meant to wear disposable clothing and full-respiratory masks, they wore their own attire underneath overalls and were instead equipped with half-masks.

This, magistrates were advised, was not the fault of Winsulate, but was caused by a lack of safety measures put in place by Mr Kelly.

For this and a number of other errors on the site, Mr Kelly was fined £790 and told to pay £250 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to take reasonable care of workers under his supervision. The case may also result is asbestos compensation being sought.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Laura Moran commented: "Asbestos is responsible for thousands of deaths in the UK every year but it only becomes dangerous when it is broken up and fibres are released into the air.

"That's why asbestos can only be removed by specialist contractors but, as the site supervisor, Steven Kelly put workers at risk by not following the correct safety procedures."

By Chris Stevenson