Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how the owner of a three-storey town house in Putney was upgrading the central heating system of his home when his plumbers identified that the boiler cupboard is his loft was made of material they believed could contain asbestos. The owner contacted Dean Callaghan of Esher, Surrey, trading as Rubbish Taxi, after searching on the website, Checkatrade for asbestos removal companies.
Dean Callaghan carried out the removal of the boiler cupboard, assisted by another worker, on 28 December 2014. During that day the homeowner witnessed panels of asbestos containing material (ACM) being carried down four flights of stairs. These panels were not bagged or wrapped, potentially spreading asbestos through the house. After the work was completed, he discovered a lot of dust and debris had been left in the loft area.
He contacted an asbestos surveying company who sampled this material and found the loft to be widely contaminated with asbestos. The samples indicated that the material removed was probably asbestos insulation board (AIB). The homeowner had ultimately to engage a licensed asbestos contractor to carry out an environmental clean of the loft area in his home to remove all asbestos debris.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident, identified that Dean Callaghan had removed approximately 8m² of asbestos insulation board and that the removal was poorly carried out. Work of this nature should only be carried out by companies who hold a license granted by the HSE and, although he had been on a training course for low risk, non-licensable work with asbestos, Mr Callaghan did not hold such a license.
Dean Callaghan, of Hillcrest Gardens, Hinchley Wood, Esher, was fined a total of £2,500, with costs of £701 after pleading guilty to an offence under Regulation 11(1) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Loraine Charles said:
“The dangers associated with exposure to asbestos are widely known. Asbestos still kills around 5,000 workers in Britain each year; this is greater than the number of people killed on our roads. Dean Callaghan carried out work which was liable to, and did in fact expose himself, his co-worker and the members of this household to asbestos.
Any work that disturbs asbestos is potentially extremely dangerous. It is important that householders recognise that any significant asbestos removal work in their homes must only be carried out by licensed contractors, and that unlicensed operators do not put themselves and others at risk by carrying out work beyond their capabilities.”