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27th April 2017

Manchester businesses prosecuted after health and safety failings

Two family-run companies have been fined over £35,000 this month after admitting health and safety failings. Namely, failing to carry out an asbestos survey at their site in Manchester, where they were carrying out a basement conversion.

Manchester Crown Court heard how Hatters Taverns Limited had appointed a sister company, Hatters Hostel Limited, as the main contractor for the basement conversion beneath a hostel at 50 Newton Street, Manchester.

The project involved the full strip out and refurbishment of the basement – a former restaurant unit – into a bar venue.

Unannounced HSE visit

An unannounced visit by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was conducted to inspect the ongoing refurbishment works. During the visit, it was discovered there had been no asbestos survey carried out before tradesmen started stripping out the majority of the space.

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.

Failure to protect

Both Hatters Hostel and Hatters Taverns therefore failed in their duty to protect and keep their workers, subcontractors and visitors to the site from harm. As a consequence, Hatters Taverns Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(3) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and was fined £10,000. Hatters Hostel Limited 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.

HSE’s verdict

Speaking after the hearing, the HSE inspector involved in the case said, “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.”

Lighthouse employs several fully qualified asbestos surveyors and are always available to advise and assist clients via the advice line. Call us on 0845 459 1724.

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