Noble Gift Packaging and A&T Roofing plead guilty to breaches leading to workers and public being exposed to deadly asbestos fibres

Two Enfield-based firms have been prosecuted after workers and members of the public were exposed to high levels of asbestos.

Noble Gift Packaging Ltd and A&T Roofing Ltd both pleaded guilty to breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

A&T Roofing was fined £25,000 and ordered to pay costs totalling over £33,000. Noble Gift Packaging was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay costs of over £19,000.

The incident occurred in November 2005, when Noble Gift Packaging Ltd contracted A&T Roofing Ltd to remove the roof from a building.

The roof was lined with 3,000 m2 of asbestos insulating board that contained Amosite (brown asbestos fibres), which requires removal in highly controlled conditions by licensed asbestos contractors.

A&T Roofing Ltd employees spent 12 weeks removing and smashing the boards before sweeping the dust and debris into bags, but were not provided with effective protection, even after the company found out the material being cleared contained Amosite.

Despite complaints by employees as well as a tested sample showing the presence of asbestos, managers allowed work to continue.

Workers at the site were exposed to potentially deadly fibres, which they then carried on their clothes and into their homes, possibly contaminating the general public and their own families.

Following the hearing HSE Inspector Sarah Snelling said: “The actions of A&T Roofing Ltd in this matter were unpardonable; they were told two weeks into the project that they were working with brown asbestos but carried on for another 10 weeks.

“Noble Gift Packaging Ltd, as client for the work, should have taken the basic step of having a full asbestos survey done after they were informed in a valuation survey that the roof contained asbestos. This could have prevented this whole tragic case.

She added: “HSE will always push for the harshest penalties in such cases.”