Fine for asbestos disposal mistakes
A HAYES heating engineer was fined thousands for failing to prevent exposure to asbestos fibres, causing homeowners to move out of their property.
Karl Locher, 48, of Minet Drive, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £5,000 with £3,000 costs.
He pleaded guilty at Trafford Magistrates’ Court on September 18 after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Self-employed Locher removed asbestos-lagged pipework in a home with no precautions to prevent exposure to asbestos fibres, after he was hired to install a new heating system.
He removed the pipes using a powered electric saw and took it through the property to the driveway.
The Court heard that Locher did not have any asbestos awareness training.
HSE told the court that if Karl Locher had been appropriately trained, he would have been in a position to recognise that the lagging may be asbestos and have known to avoid any work until it had been demonstrated as asbestos free or been removed by a licensed contractor.
Instead, Locher removed the pipes with no precautions to prevent his own exposure to asbestos fibres, and the potential for other persons to be exposed. The homeowners have had to move out of their home until their property was thoroughly decontaminated.
A previous customer of Locher’s hit out at the Gas Safe Resister website, which still lists him under their official list of gas engineers who are registered to work safely and legally on gas appliances in the UK.
She said: “I cannot believe rogue traders like Karl Locher are being permitted to work in such a regulated industry despite a criminal conviction directly relating to the industry that he operates.
“Had he been a doctor, pharmacist, lawyer or similar professional he would most certainly have faced a prison sentence and public censure. He had worked for me also and it begs the question of how many people have already been subjected to such dangerous working practices as well as potential customers.”
A spokeswoman for Gas Safe Register confirmed Karl Locher was still on their list, under reference number 174757.
She said: “Gas Safe Register do hand out sanctions based on the assessment of the situation when it comes to gas safety.
“Asbestos will be included in the general safety, however we would prosecute on the gas aspects to that.
“Karl Locher would stay on the list as he hasn’t done anything wrong when it comes to gas safety specifically.”