Asbestos management company director jailed and fined £100k for failure to protect workers

An asbestos management company director has been jailed after failures to protect workers from asbestos exposure during a major refurbishment project in Plymouth.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard that in February 2017, concerns were raised by workers at Ensure Asbestos Management Limited who believed they were being put in danger whilst carrying out refurbishment work at a department store.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found  irregularities in the asbestos surveys and clearance certificates, with some found to be fraudulent. Ensure Asbestos Management Limited had been contracted to carry out an asbestos survey, remove all identified asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) from the building and then carry out the initial strip-out of the building before it was refurbished. However, the company was found to have deliberately cut corners in managing the danger of asbestos exposure putting workers at risk.

Ensure Asbestos Management Limited of Station Road, Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £100,000. As the company is in liquidation, there is no prospect of a payment being made and so no order for costs was made.

Director of Ensure Asbestos Management Billy Hopwood pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. He was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment,  immediate concurrent on each charge. He has also been disqualified as a director for five years

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Contracts Manager at Ensure Asbestos Management Phillip Hopwood of Churchgate Street, Harlow, Essex pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1), 3(1) and 33(1)(m) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.  His sentencing was adjourned until a later date.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Georgina Symons said:

“Ensure Asbestos Management Limited – a previously licensed asbestos removal contractor – failed to work within the law despite having a wealth of knowledge on the risks associated with exposure to asbestos and the necessary training to have done so safely.  They deliberately falsified documents and cut corners.

Workers should be supported by their employers when they raise health or safety concerns.

The dangers associated with asbestos are well known and a wealth of advice and guidance is freely available from HSE and other organisations.”