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A Leeds trader has been handed a suspended jail sentence after he was found to be exposing occupants of a property in Bramhope and workers to potentially hazardous levels of asbestos fibres.

49-year-old Clive Raper, trading as Bramley Asbestos Removals, accepted a job which involved the removal of asbestos insulating board from a couple’s garage, despite him not holding the legal licence needed to carry out this kind of specialist work.

Hiring a couple of workers to assist him in the job, he failed to take any of the essential safety measures needed in a removal of this kind, nor did he implement any of the tight controls imposed by the law, which are in place to protect workers, the general public and the environment when working with asbestos.

Following an investigation into the incident by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in July 2011, Mr Raper was prosecuted for safety breaches at Leeds Magistrates’ Court last week (20th March). The court heard that Mr Raper had taken on the job knowing full well that he didn’t have the necessary licence to carry out the work. Further, he then took on labourers to assist him and neither of them held licences either.

The poor standards adopted by Mr Raper meant that there had been asbestos debris and residue left at the property, which compounded the risk to the homeowners of asbestos exposure. The court heard that the couple were so concerned by how Mr Raper had left their garage that they contacted Leeds City Council, who enlisted the help of a suitable contractor to visit the couple’s home and carry out an environmental clean of the property, at the couple’s expense. The council reported the matter to HSE.

Mr Raper was sentenced in court to eight months in prison, suspended for 12 months, and was ordered to pay a contribution of £260 towards costs after he admitted to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Control of Asbestos Regulations.

HSE inspector Paul Yeadon said after the hearing: “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 i danger. 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.”