Bosses in the dock for asbestos breaches

Newcastle Crown Court heard that in October 2017, the former Joplings Department Store in Sunderland was undergoing refurbishment when workers disturbed large quantities of asbestos.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that demolition and stripping work had been carried out inside the property. The age of the building and previous refurbishment work meant that there were vast quantities of asbestos containing materials (ACMs) inside the building.

During several months of demolition and refurbishment work the ACMs had been smashed up with sledgehammers. Asbestos fibres were spread across five floors of the building as well as outside of the city centre property. At the time of HSE’s intervention, 1,315 sqm of contaminated waste was found across the shop floors and in the stairwell.

Former directors of Keebar Construction, James Keegan and Alan Barraclough were found guilty of breaching two counts of Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 etc. They each received a 14-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and were ordered to pay costs of £44,774.2 and to carry out 120 hours of unpaid community work within 12 months. They are now also suspended as company directors for 10 years.

Meanwhile, in a separate case in Manchester, another construction boss has been handed a 200-hour community service order for flouting asbestos controls.

Manchester Magistrates Court heard that between May and June 2021, Sal Construction Ltd had been contracted to carry out refurbishment work of student accommodation at Darbishire House in Upper Brook Street, Manchester.

The project consisted of putting in bathrooms for all rooms and constructing two studio flats. Work began by building two show rooms on the ground floor before beginning work on the top floor, which was stripped back to brickwork. During this work, asbestos pipe lagging was removed, and debris spread across the site and in and around the skip in the yard area.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that this work was carried out by five or six employees under the supervision of Sal Zardooi, the sole director of Sal Construction, instead of a licenced asbestos removal contractor.

Salar Zardooi of Finney Lane, Heald Green, Cheadle pleaded guilty to breaches of Section 2 (1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He was sentenced to 200 hours unpaid work and ordered to pay costs of £2,007.75.

His company, Sal Construction Services Limited, was fined £30,000 for the same offences and ordered to pay costs of £2,133.45.

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