A tradesman has been given a suspended jail sentence after exposing a household and workers to potentially dangerous levels of asbestos fibres at a home in Bramhope, Leeds.

Clive Raper, trading as Bramley Asbestos Removals, took on a job to remove asbestos insulating board from the garage of a couple’s home, despite not holding the legal licence required. He hired a couple of workers to help him, but failed to take any of the safety measures needed, such as a protective enclosure, full-face respiratory equipment, negative pressure units and specialist vacuums.

The homeowner was so concerned with how Mr Raper had left the garage that he contacted Leeds City Council. They identified a suitable contractor who went to the home and carried out an environmental clean of the property, at added cost to the homeowner. The council also reported the matter to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), who investigated the incident in July 2011.

Last week (20 March 2015), Mr Raper was prosecuted for safety breaches at Leeds Magistrates’ Court. He was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay a contribution of £260 toward costs after admitting a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and a separate breach of the Control of Asbestos Regulations.

“It is appalling that a trader who is fully familiar with the restrictions governing asbestos wilfully ignores them and puts a household and the workers he has hired in danger,” said HSE inspector Paul Yeadon after the hearing. “It would appear that he has put profit ahead of the health and wellbeing of others and in this case – quite bafflingly – he put his own health at risk as well.

“We were unable to identify the two workers involved as Mr Raper could not provide their full names or contact details. We do think, however, that they were probably both exposed to asbestos fibres above the action level.

“This kind of work must be carried out by competent people with the necessary licence to do so.”