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Worker Fined after Exposing Himself to Asbestos

In an ironic turn of events, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has charged a man for removing asbestos from a school boiler house after exposing himself to the deadly material.  

Mr Jack Conn, a supervisor with a Medway company licensed to remove asbestos, was seen by an inspector from the HSE walking around inside the sealed enclosure without wearing his required respiratory mask, and with the hood of his protective overalls down.

The incident occurred at the Canterbury Academy in Knight Avenue on 30 May 2013. The HSE Inspector noted that the correct regulatory preparations were undertaken by the Medway company.  However, when the inspector went to the basement where work was being undertaken she viewed on CCTV Mr Conn’s reckless behaviour and endeavoured to attract his attention by shouting through an airlock. The inspector eventually rang the company to make contact with Mr Conn to inform him to leave the enclosure. 

Mr Conn admitted that his required respiratory equipment was with him in the airlocked room but he had failed to wear same. As a result of the incident he was fined £1,000 with £1,500 towards costs after admitting a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the case HSE Inspector Nicola Wellard said, “It really does beggar belief that a trained supervisor with a licensed company, fully aware of the very real dangers associated with exposure to asbestos, could then casually disregard those dangers and work in a contaminated environment.  Jack Conn, as supervisor, should have been setting a high standard to other employees and being seen to take seriously the precautions necessary to control the risks to himself and others. It was an obviously flagrant and deliberate breach. I hope he will not come to regret it in years ahead.”

This really is an unusual turn of events to have a worker in a supervisory role recklessly neglect the basic principals’ enshrined in the regulations governing contact with asbestos. This behaviour which would have been seen by his peers and co-workers will need to be put in question is astonishing, considering he is trained in the dangers of asbestos and his company is licensed to remove asbestos.

Alison Kerr specialises in Asbestos Disease claims at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.

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