26 April 2019

Hotelier fined after failing to assess for asbestos prior to refurbishment

A Devon based hotelier has been prosecuted after asbestos containing materials (ACM’s) were disturbed during a major refurbishment at the Park Hotel in Barnstaple.

The refurbishment work was conducted between October 2016 and May 2017 to refurbish bathrooms and bedrooms at the hotel. Parts of the hotel were originally constructed in the 1960’s and 1970’s, when asbestos was a popular building material.

During their investigation, The Health and Safety Executive found that concerns were raised at an early stage, by an employee, about the presence ACM’s in the rooms undergoing refurbishment. The work continued for several months with concerns being raised again by external contractors. Testing was eventually carried out on the material being disturbed in February 2017, when the presence of asbestos was confirmed.

While the HSE investigation was in progress, the defendant had a further incident in May 2017. The planning for this work had included an assessment as to the presence of ACM’s which was inadequate, as it failed to identify the full scope of the work proposed and the materials that would be disturbed during pipework installation works.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. They were fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £14,999.60.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Jo-Anne Michael said:

“The dangers associated with asbestos are well known and a wealth of advice and guidance is freely available from the HSE and other organisations.
“Identification of the hazard is key. Duty holders should not undertake any work which either exposes or is liable to expose their employees to asbestos, unless they have carried out a suitable and sufficient assessment as to the presence, location and condition of asbestos in the premises. Those persons tasked with undertaking the assessment should have the necessary skills.”

Full story on the HSE website here.

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