Published: 10:00, 21 May 2014
Clueless Jack Conn has been left £2,500 out of pocket after exposing himself to deadly asbestos at a Canterbury school.
The 23-year-old decided to ditch his protective breathing mask while clearing the dangerous material from a boiler room at the Canterbury Academy.
Amazingly, he was a supervisor on the job and working for a Medway company licensed to remove asbestos, which kills 4,000 people a year and is the biggest single cause of work-related deaths in the UK.
But his reckless work practices landed him in the dock after a health and safety inspector turned up at the Knight Avenue school in May last year.
Conn, of Brissenden Close, Rochester, was spotted on CCTV walking around a sealed enclosure without his respiratory mask on and with the hood of his protective overalls down.
The gaffe sparked an investigation which ended on Tuesday with Conn appearing at Canterbury Magistrates Court.
The court was told a Health and Saftey Executive inspector had visited the site and recorded that all the correct precautions were in place, including a fenced-off compound, a decontamination unit and the sealed boiler house with a three-stage air lock.
But after looking to find someone in charge, he went down to the basement, where work was underway, and watched what was happening inside the sealed enclosure on a CCTV monitor.
It was then she saw Conn working unprotected and shouted through an airlock to try to get his attention.
When that failed, she rang the company telling them they needed to get the worker out of the enclosure.
She filmed some of the CCTV footage before the firm managed to make contact with the site and Conn was told leave the enclosure.
He later admitted his breathing mask was in the enclosure with him, on the floor, and that he was aware of the risks and the duty to wear it. He also confirmed he had undertaken the training to be a supervisor.
He was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £1,500 towards costs after admitting a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
The court was told airborne asbestos fibres can become lodged in the lungs or digestive tract and can lead to lung cancer or other diseases, but symptoms may not appear for several decades.
After the case, HSE inspector Nicola Wellard said: “It really does beggar belief that a trained supervisor with a licensed company, fully aware of the very real dangers associated with exposure to asbestos, could then casually disregard those dangers and work in a contaminated environment.
“Jack Conn, as supervisor, should have been setting a high standard to other employees and being seen to take seriously the precautions necessary to control the risks to himself and others.
“It was an obviously flagrant and deliberate breach. I hope he will not come to regret it in years ahead.”
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