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A gas engineer who placed himself and others at risk of harm from asbestos, has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Brian Hockin, 58, had commenced work on removal of an old heating system at a property in Wrafton, Devon when he came across asbestos insulation board around the boiler. Rather than contact a specialist who was trained to remove asbestos safely, Hockin removed the hazardous material himself, bagging it up and taking it to his yard to be stored.

Tenants realised that asbestos was present and voiced their concerns with Hockin, but he continued with the removal. The HSE was contacted by the tenants and began an investigation followed by a prosecution. The court heard that no safety measures were used during the removal of the asbestos, with no PPE in use for Hockin to protect himself or others who may have come into contact with the substance. A £450 fine was levied and Hockin was ordered to pay the costs of £921.40.

According to Simon Jones, the HSE inspector, Hockin should have realised the possibility that asbestos may be present in the property, and taken necessary precautions to avoid contamination and the threat of serious health issues. Jones added that the engineer's experience in the job should have made him aware that there could have been asbestos present on the premises. The inspector warned that tradesmen need to be especially careful when they suspect the substance could be present, taking precautions to avoid unnecessary risks.

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