The owner of a commercial property in the Northern Quarter in Manchester has been handed a six-month jail sentence suspended for two years, in another indication of the potential consequences for those who fail to take measures to minimise the risk of asbestos exposure in their buildings.
A signal of the continued importance of safe asbestos removals
As reported by the Manchester Evening News, Whaid Ahmed was hauled before Manchester Magistrates’ Court after a routine Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspection at 1-3 Stevenson Square, where the eateries Slice Pizzeria and Chai Latte occupy the ground floor.
The developer was prosecuted in relation to health and safety breaches that occurred during refurbishment work at the property, which began more than five years ago.
The court heard that action was taken against him on the basis of his failure to check whether asbestos was present in the well-known building prior to the commencement of work in April 2012.
Large quantities of the potentially lethal substance were discovered in the building by an HSE inspector, some of it in very poor condition.
HSE said this indicated the possibility of previous asbestos removals without any controls in place from already-renovated areas of the building.
The body’s investigation found that Ahmed did not identify the risks involved in dealing with such potentially harmful fibres, and failed to implement appropriate measures to prevent workers coming into contact with it.
It added that with enforcement action having previously been taken against Ahmed in relation to a similar issue, he should have been “well aware of his duties under the law”.
What consequences did the offender face?
Ahmed, of Hale Barns, Altrincham, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 5(a), 11(1)(a) and 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.
His six-month prison sentence was suspended for two years, and he was also ordered by magistrates to complete 250 hours’ unpaid work and pay £5,742.14 in costs.
HSE inspector Matt Greenly commented after the hearing: “This case highlights the importance of surveying a property for asbestos to prevent risk to anyone occupying or working in that building and to reduce the risk of exposure to asbestos and contracting incurable diseases as a result of that exposure.”
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