The company, Concept Roofing and Cladding Services ltd, pleaded guilty at Leicester Magistrates court and has been fined £12,000 and ordered to pay costs of £22,000.

The incident occurred when the company used pressurised water washers to clean asbestos cement roofing panels, which blasted the harmful material into the environment.

The problem was discovered when asbestos was found outside the units by a Leicestershire County Council health and safety consultant.

Work was stopped immediately and local traders closed for several months while a qualified asbestos removal company carried out a safe programme of removal.

During the subsequent clean-up operation, traces of the material were found on walls, in drains and at a bus stop.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) brought the prosecution.

HSE inspector Stephen Farthing said: “This company showed a willful disregard for the safety of its employees and the general public.

“Concept Roofing and Cladding knew the roofing panels contained asbestos and should have known that the use of a pressure washer was entirely inappropriate.

“The actions of this company caused a great deal of worry and inconvenience for local people and business, some of whom had to leave their premises for a considerable amount of time.

“Yet the distress, inconvenience and cost of remedial action could have been easily avoided had the company taken sensible steps to ensure the right tools were used and the spread of potentially dangerous material was prevented.”

Alison Brown

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