Construction Enquirer Contractor folds after HSE investigation but bosses handed prison sentences

An asbestos management company has been fined and two of its employees jailed for failing 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 while carrying out refurbishment work at a former department store.

An HSE investigation  found irregularities in the asbestos surveys and clearance certificates, with some of them found to be fraudulent.

Ensure Asbestos Management Limited had been contracted to carry out an asbestos survey, remove all identified asbestos-containing materials from the building and then carry out the initial strip-out of the building before it was refurbished.

But 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 safety breaches and was fined £100,000.

Companies House records show winding-up proceedings by the firm started in June 2017 and were completed in 2019.

Director of Ensure Asbestos Management Billy Hopwood of Basildon, Essex pleaded guilty to  safety breaches and was sentenced to 10 months in prison and disqualified from being a director for five years.

Contracts Manager at Phillip Hopwood of Harlow, Essex also pleaded guilty to safety breaches and was sentenced to 15 months in prison and disqualified from being a director for 10 years.

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 concern. This case sends a clear message that those responsible will be held to account for their failings.

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

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