Manchester Crown Court has fined two family-run companies after they admitted health and safety failings on a Manchester basement conversion. Hatters Taverns Limited had appointed sister company Hatters Hostel Limited as the main contractor for the project, which involved turning a former restaurant unit beneath a hostel on Manchester's Newton Street into a bar.
An unannounced inspection by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered that no asbestos survey had been carried out before tradesmen started the stripping out work. Hatters Taverns Limited of 50 Newton Street Manchester pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(3) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and was fined £10,000. Hatters Hostel Limited of 56-60 Mount Pleasant, Liverpool 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.
Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Matt Greenly said “Both Hatters Hostel and Hatters Taverns have failed in their duty to protect their workers, subcontractors and visitors to his site from harm. Asbestos related diseases are currently untreatable and claim the lives of an estimated 4000 people per year in the UK. The requirement to have a suitable asbestos survey is clear and well known throughout the construction industry...The cost of an asbestos survey is not great but...exposure to asbestos fibres can potentially cause life shortening diseases in the long term...This case sends a clear message to any company that it does not pay to ignore well known risks on site.
Hatters Hostel, Newton Street, Manchester Phoenix comments:
Asbestos still kills around 5000 workers each year - more than the number of people killed on the roads. When materials that contain asbestos are disturbed or damaged, fibres are released into the air and inhaling them can cause serious diseases. Around 20 tradesmen die each week as a result of past exposure.
Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 requires the person who has the duty to manage asbestos (ie the ‘dutyholder’) to take reasonable steps to find out if there are materials containing asbestos and maintain a record of the location and condition of the asbestos. They must also assess the risk of anyone being exposed to fibres and prepare a plan that sets out in detail how the risks from these materials will be managed. They are further required to provide information on the location and condition of the materials to anyone who is liable to work on them or disturb them.