The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has taken a hotelier in Devon to Court following breaches of the asbestos regulations.

Major refurbishment works were carried out at The Park Hotel in Barnstaple between October 2016 and May 2017. The work involved refitting and refurbishing bathrooms and bedrooms.

The legacy of asbestos

Parts of the hotel were constructed in the 1960s and 1970s, this was when the use of asbestos was at its peak. Due to its versatile nature and fire-resistant properties, asbestos was used extensively in construction until it was banned in the UK in 2000. Therefore, any building constructed before this time could contain asbestos.

Asbestos concerns

Concerns were raised at an early stage of the works when an employee questioned the presence of asbestos-containing materials. Although enquiries were made, no testing of the suspected materials was done and the work continued. It was not until several months later when external contractors were working on the refurbishments that the materials were tested and the presence of asbestos-containing materials was confirmed in February 2017.

HSE investigation

The HSE began investigating, and during this investigation a further incident was identified where asbestos-containing materials had been disturbed. This was found to be due to an inadequate assessment before work had begun.

Once the asbestos-containing materials were correctly identified, remedial works were carried out.

Guilty of Health and Safety breach

The company, Percy R Brend and Sons (Hoteliers) Ltd, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The Court fined them £80,000 and ordered costs of nearly £15,000.

HSE inspector, Jo-Anne Michael said after the hearing; “The dangers associated with asbestos are well known and a wealth of advice and guidance is freely available from 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.”

We hear all too often about companies failing to carry out the proper checks before works are carried out, resulting in people being exposed to asbestos. Although anyone exposed at the hotel is unlikely to suffer with asbestosis, pleural thickening or asbestos lung cancer in the future, they are now at risk of developing mesothelioma. This is a cancer which can be caused by low levels of asbestos exposure and for which there is currently no known cure.

The regulations are in place for a reason and following these to the letter is the only way to protect workers and prevent asbestos-related conditions.

If you require assistance in pursuing an asbestos compensation claim for mesothelioma or other asbestos disease then please contact us today on our freephone number 0800 038 6767. Alternatively, head over to the ‘Contact Us’ page, complete the form and we will be in touch.

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