ROOFERS and their families have been handed a possible death sentence after their “cavalier” bosses told them to smash up asbestos sheets and sweep up the fibres without protection.

A &T Roofing Ltd, based in Bowes Road, Enfield, told their staff to smash up 3,000 square metres of insulation boards and sweep the debris, which included deadly Amosite fibres, into bags, without providing them with the proper clothing or protective equipment, Southwark Crown Court heard yesterday.

A& T employees discovered the potentially fatal Amosite, or “brown” asbestos, one of the two most deadly forms of the mineral, two weeks into a 12 week removal operation at a warehouse in Brimsdown in November 2005.

Managers ignored complaints from their staff and allowed work to continue, which would have meant the potentially deadly fibres were carried on their clothes and into their homes, vehicles, onto public transport.

The “cavalier attitude” of A & T Roofing was described by a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector as the worst he had come across in his 15 year career.

A & T Roofing Ltd, who pleaded guilty on September 1 to charges brought under the asbestos regulation legislation were fined £25,000 and were ordered to pay costs of £33,844.30.

HSE inspector Sarah Snelling said: “A & T Roofing Ltd’s cavalier attitude towards the removal of the asbestos has put the future health of their employees, their employees’ families and members of the public in general at serious risk.

“Not everyone exposed to asbestos goes on to develop life-threatening or terminal asbestos-related conditions such as lung cancer, asbestosis or mesothelioma. However, when people do develop such conditions, it is often many years after they were exposed. All the men exposed, and their families, will have this hanging over them for the rest of their lives.

“The actions of A & T Roofing Ltd in this matter were unpardonable; they were told two weeks into the project that they were working with brown asbestos but carried on for another ten weeks.”

The work was carried out at the premises of Noble Gift Packaging Ltd, which provides wholesale packaging to jewellery wholesalers, and is based in Lockfield Avenue.

The company were fined £40,000 for employing A & T and were ordered to pay costs of £19,223.65.

Ms Snelling said: “Noble Gift Packaging should have taken the basic step of having a full asbestos survey done after they were informed in a valuation survey that the roof contained asbestos. This could have prevented this whole tragic case.”