Workers’ lives ‘deliberately put at risk’ via asbestos exposure

A director has been given a suspended jail sentence after knowingly exposing workers to asbestos.

Inspectors were called to a building site operated by Eye Track Ltd in Stretford, Manchester, over concerns about unsafe working at height while units were being demolished to make way for eight new homes, according to a statement from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The watchdog added that “significant amounts” of asbestos-containing materials, mostly debris from broken roof sheets, were found scattered across the site (pictured).

One unit taken down was estimated to have contained 100 square metres of asbestos-containing insulation board.

Workers had demolished these mostly by hand and using machinery themselves, the HSE said.

The asbestos removal work was carried out in April 2019 under the direct control and instruction of Eye Track director Selcuk Pinarbasi.

He had commissioned a demolition survey that identified the presence of licensed and unlicensed materials throughout the site, months before he told the workers to remove it themselves, investigators found.

Licensed asbestos materials can only be removed by specially qualified personnel.

Eye Track Ltd, of Stretford, Manchester, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The company was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £18,783.61 in costs.

Selcuk Pinarbasi, of Hale, Greater Manchester, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) and Section 33(1)(g), by virtue of Section 37(1), of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

He received a prison sentence of 20 weeks, suspended for 12 months. He was also fined £75,000 and ordered to pay costs of £18,783.61.

After the sentencing, HSE inspector Phil Redman said: “This case highlights how such behaviour will not be tolerated under any circumstances.

“Lives were deliberately put at risk as profits were prioritised over safety during the uncontrolled demolition and removal of asbestos-containing materials.

“Eye Track Ltd and its director showed a total disregard for the health, safety and welfare of workers working under their control.”

Eye Track Ltd is registered at Companies House with its primary activity given as a developer, though a website operating in its name describes its activities as selling construction materials and electronic goods.

More than 5,000 people die in the UK every year from asbestos-related diseases, with former construction workers the worst-affected group.

Earlier this week a special CN report examined the long legacy of the former go-to building material and whether enough is being done about the dangers it poses today, including through building sites’ practices.

Last month, Cavendish Winchester director Stephen Davies was jailed for eight months after overseeing the illegal removal of 10 tonnes of asbestos-containing material from a building during a student accommodation project in Hampshire.

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