A DIRECTOR at an asbestos management firm has been jailed after failing to protect workers during a major refurbishment project.

Billy Hopwood, of Swanstead, Basildon, has been disqualified from being a director for five years and jailed for ten months.

The 36-year-old was a director at Ensure Asbestos Management in Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard that in February 2017, concerns were raised by workers at Ensure Asbestos Management Limited who believed they were being put in danger whilst carrying out refurbishment work at a department store.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found irregularities in the asbestos surveys and clearance certificates, with some found to be fraudulent.

Speaking after the hearing, inspector Georgina Symons, said: “Ensure Asbestos Management Limited – a previously licensed asbestos removal contractor – failed to work within the law despite having a wealth of knowledge on the risks associated with exposure to asbestos and the necessary training to have done so safely.

They deliberately falsified documents and cut corners.

“Workers should be supported by their employers when they raise health or safety concerns.

“The dangers associated with asbestos are well known and a wealth of advice and guidance is freely available from HSE and other organisations.”

Ensure Asbestos Management Limited had been contracted to carry out an asbestos survey, remove all identified asbestos-containing materials from the building and then carry out the initial strip-out of the building before it was refurbished.

However, the company was found to have deliberately cut corners in managing the danger of asbestos exposure putting workers at risk.

Ensure Asbestos Management Limited of Station Road, Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire pleaded guilty to breaching The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The company was fined £100,000.

Because the company is in liquidation, there is no prospect of a payment being made and so no order for costs was made.

Contracts manager, Phillip Hopwood, of Churchgate Street, Harlow, pleaded guilty to breaching the act and his sentencing was adjourned until a later date.