An unannounced inspection of a basement conversion found that two family-run firms working on site had failed to carry out an asbestos survey.
The companies have now been fined after both admitted health and safety failings on the Manchester site.
Basement conversion project
Hatters Taverns Limited and sister company Hatters Hostel Limited were working to convert a former basement restaurant into a bar at a hostel on Newton Street, Manchester Crown Court heard.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) paid a surprise visit to the site and found that there had been no asbestos survey carried out before stripping out the space.
Hatters Taverns pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(3) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and was fined £10,000.
Hatters Hostel also pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5(a) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and was fined £24,000 and ordered to pay the combined costs for both defendants of £10,232.50.
‘Failed to protect workers’
HSE Inspector Matt Greenly said: “Both Hatters Hostel and Hatters Taverns have failed in their duty to protect their workers, subcontractors and visitors to this site from harm. Asbestos-related diseases are currently untreatable and claim the lives of an estimated 4,000 people per year in the UK.
“The requirement to have a suitable asbestos survey is clear and well known throughout the construction industry. Only by knowing if asbestos is present in any building before works commence can a contractor ensure that people working on their site are not exposed to these deadly fibres.
“The cost of an asbestos survey is not great but the potential legacy facing anyone who worked on this site is immeasurable. Exposure to asbestos fibres can potentially cause life-shortening diseases in the long term and Hatters Hostel Limited and Hatters Taverns Limited should have taken more care to protect workers from a totally preventable exposure.
“This case sends a clear message to any company that it does not pay to ignore well known risks on site.”
Source: Health and Safety Executive
Date Published: April 26, 2017
Author: Jonathan Brown