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A building contractor in County Durham has been successfully prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), after being found removing asbestos illegally from a garage.

With the act potentially endangering his own life and the life of his workers, as well as the safety of the homeowner, John Simpson – who trades as Dun N Dusted – received £900 for the work.

After pleading guilty to the charges, Mr Simpson was fined £1,500 and was instructed to pay the court costs amounting to £1,383.

When taking on the job, Mr Simpson advised the homeowner that he was licensed to remove the cancer-causing materials despite not having such a licence. Together with two other workers, dressed only in paper overalls and face masks instead of the correct safety workwear, Mr Simpson carried out the job.

This saw the three men remove asbestos insulation materials from the garage using hammers and chisels, which would likely have sent asbestos fibres into the air.

The asbestos debris was then collected by the men into 20 bags using just a domestic vacuum cleaner. The bags were then loaded into a van parked outside of the property.

Becoming concerned when noticing the work being carried out, a neighbour contacted the HSE.

Following the issuance of a Prohibition Notice, Mr Simpson was prevented from carrying out any similar work, while the investigation found that he had no qualifications or licensing in place to conduct such tasks.

Mr Simpson was also found to have failed to conduct a risk assessment or identify the type of asbestos in place.

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