Builder covers pensioner’s clothes in asbestos

Grant Prior 13 years ago

A Mansfield contractor has been fined £20,000 after contaminating the home of 96-year-old Ann Jenkins.

Abbott and Mason Building and Joinery Contractors was removing asbestos insulation board behind the bath when many of Mrs Jenkins’ possessions, including clothing and furniture, were contaminated with asbestos fibres and had to be destroyed.

The dangerous work on February 4 2010 was spotted by the warden at the sheltered housing complex who stopped the job immediately.

Mrs Jenkins – who had been sitting very close to the bathroom – was taken home by her family before being relocated to another flat.

Nottingham Magistrates’ Court heard the firm knew it was dealing with asbestos-containing material and though both partners had asbestos awareness training they failed to manage it appropriately, exposing employees; Mrs Jenkins; and members of the public to asbestos fibres.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Frances Bailey said: “This company showed a wilful disregard for the health and safety of its employees and the public. Abbott and Mason knew the panels contained asbestos and should have dealt with it safely.

“Their actions caused a great deal of worry and stress for Mrs Jenkins, who has since passed away.

“The distress caused to her and the risks to the health of the public and the company’s employees could have been easily avoided had the company taken sensible steps to ensure the right procedures were followed and the spread of potentially dangerous material was prevented.”

In a victim impact statement given to the court, Mrs Jenkins’ daughter, Mary Chivers, said: “My family are appalled that this incident had such devastating consequences for my mother. It was entirely preventable had proper measures been taken.

“She was very shocked and angry and found it difficult to come to terms with her situation. As time went on, she began missing the things she had lost and expressed grief. She was clearly distressed.”

Abbott and Mason Building and Joinery Contractors Ltd, of Carter Lane, Mansfield, pleaded guilty to breaching asbestos regulations and was also ordered to pay full costs of £5,741.

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