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Demolition boss imprisoned after exposing staff to asbestos in a cost-cutting exercise

David Briggs, 74, was sent to prison for 24 months by Manchester Magistrates court after being found guilty of exposing works to asbestos during the demolition of the former Oakbank Training Centre in Chadderton, in 2015

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), prosecuting, attended the site after being advised by a member of the public that demolition was occurring without proper removal of the asbestos. When the HSE arrived on site they found 230 square meters of asbestos still in place, despite Mr Briggs insisting that there was none present.

Asbestos containing materials are known to cause cancer and diseases including asbestosis, with products such as asbestos insulating board being particularly hazardous.

After the case, HSE inspector Matt Greenly said: “Mr Briggs wilfully ignored a professional asbestos survey, instigated by himself, and in doing so failed in his duty to protect his workers and anyone else around this site from a foreseeable risk of serious harm.

“Asbestos-related diseases are currently untreatable and claim the lives of an estimated 4,000 people per year in the UK.

“It is beyond comprehension that Mr Briggs ensured his client had a sufficient asbestos survey carried out before demolition began and then wilfully ignored its findings thinking he knew better.

“The reality is that the costs of removing this asbestos properly were saved by Mr Briggs so he could drastically undercut his competitors.

“This act of putting profit before safety is wholly unacceptable.

“The legacy facing anyone who worked on this site is immeasurable.

“They now have to live with the realisation that due to the lack of care taken by Mr Briggs they may face a life shortening disease at some point over the next 30+ years from an exposure which was totally preventable.

“This case sends a clear message to any individual or company that it does not pay to ignore known risks on site, especially to increase profits at the expense of people’s lives.”

“This case sends a clear message to any individual or company that it does not pay to ignore known risks on site, especially to increase profits at the expense of people’s lives.”

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