HSE inspectors were acting on a tip-off from a worried member of the public who alerted them to the bodged demolition project.
Maidstone Magistrates’ Court heard the site was owned by Bernard Berry of Berry Estates Development Limited who were also carrying out the demolition of the building.
On 23 April 2010, two HSE inspectors attended the site and discovered the majority of the building had already been demolished but debris containing asbestos was blocking the pavement on one side and had also spilled out onto the pavement on the other side.
Principal contractor Berry could not provide paperwork for a demolition plan, method statements or risk assessments. No asbestos survey had been completed prior to the demolition and site security was very poor. A Prohibition Notice was served preventing any further work onsite.
After the notice was served Berry commissioned a pre-demolition asbestos survey, which highlighted a number of asbestos containing materials across the site.
A HSE investigation showed that the building was being knocked into pedestrian areas and broken up with an excavator. It showed no evidence of employee training, no personal protection or respiratory equipment and no plan of work on site. It also revealed no provision to prevent dust spreading during demolition and crushing.
David Fussell, HSE Inspector, said: “The company failed to take any measures aimed at controlling the workers’ exposure to asbestos and reduce any future incidence of related diseases.
“This is a shocking case as it was foreseeable that a building of this age may have had asbestos-containing materials in the building fabric, as the subsequent survey highlighted.
“If the company had carried out a survey and prepared a plan of work prior to demolition, the risk of exposure to the workers onsite or the general public could have been avoided.”
Berry Estates Development Limited, of Red Hill, Wateringbury, Maidstone, Kent, pleaded guilty to breaching asbestos regulations and was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,391.
Bernard Berry, director of the company also pleaded guilty to breaching the same regulations and was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,391.