Site manager gets community service over asbestos risk

Grant Prior 7 years ago

A Welsh site manager has been given a two month suspended sentence and 150 hours of community service for exposing a bricklayer to asbestos.

Henry Bohlen,63, from Barry directed a bricklayer to demolish a wall that contained asbestos putting him at serious risk.

Bohlen was in Newport in May 2009 supervising a refurbishment job where a full site survey for asbestos had been carried out.

But he failed to check the warnings it gave and instructed Justin Jones, a bricklayer from Pontypridd, to manually demolish the known asbestos-containing fascia boards from the building.

Jones used a hammer and chisel to break up the board into fragments, which generated plumes of dust, releasing asbestos fibres into the air.

Jones continued working until another manager realised the danger and told him to stop. He had to undergo emergency decontamination as a result.

Architects employed by Newport City Council on the job had specifically designed the refurbishment work to avoid disturbing any of the asbestos-containing materials.

Bohlen later informed Newport City Council that additional work was needed on the building and, rather than waiting for the authorisation or amended plans from the architects, he went ahead and told Jones to carry out the work which led to him being exposed to the potentially deadly asbestos.

Bohlen pleaded guilty to breaching safety laws and was given a suspended sentence of two months. He was also ordered to carry out 150 hours of community service.

Inspector Liam Osborne said: “Henry Bohlen was a very experienced construction site manager and, by his own admission was aware of asbestos, the risks to health and the correct procedures that ought to have been followed.

“Rather than wait for the architect’s plans, consult the site survey, or if that was not available, to have taken a few minutes to check with other parties, Mr Bohlen went ahead and instructed Mr. Jones to do the work, which ultimately exposed him to the potentially deadly asbestos.

“This is something Mr Jones will have to live with for the rest of his life – wondering whether his site manager’s lack of consideration might lead to him contracting a deadly disease.”

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