The owners of the South Pier in Blackpool have been reprimanded for breaching the Asbestos Regulations whilst carrying out refurbishment works in 2018.

Refurbishment work involved removal of asbestos

An arcade on the pier was lined with asbestos which needed to be removed by a specialist, licensed company. The owners began with good intentions, obtaining a quote from a suitable company to remove the deadly material however, when the quote received was £17,000 they decided to save money and have three of their employees begin the work instead.

The staff used crowbars to remove the asbestos materials and filled six bin bags with the waste. They also used a hoover to clean the asbestos off the carpet when asbestos was removed from the roof.

During the works, staff and members of the public were allowed into the arcade until the contamination was discovered and an official notice was served to close down the affected areas. Prior to this, asbestos fibres were found on equipment in the arcade.

After the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) became involved in the case, it took nine days for the outside area of the pier to be cleaned and twelve days for the arcade to be cleaned up. In addition to this, it had been suspected that an industrial skip had been used to dispose of the asbestos and, on investigation, further asbestos materials were found in the car park, which was open to the public.

Workers and public put at risk

It is estimated that around 600 workers and members of the public could have been exposed to asbestos dust and fibres from the works.

The case was brought to Court and heard at Preston Crown Court before Judge Andrew Jefferies QC.

The company, The Blackpool Pier Company, pleaded guilty to eight offences relating to their failure to ensure the safety of the public, their employees and allowing asbestos fibres to be released into the air.

Ordered to pay fines

The owners of the company were ordered to complete 300 hours of unpaid work and the company was fined £134,000 and ordered to pay costs of £38,000. In total, the saving of £17,000 actually cost them over £170,000 and put hundreds of people at risk of developing an asbestos-related condition.

Cutting corners may seem like a good way to save time and money but as this case shows, it simply isn’t worth it. Not only did the company end up paying ten times more than it would have cost to have the asbestos removed safely, they put people in danger and may well be sued in the future in an asbestos disease compensation claim.

Exposure to asbestos causes risk to health

There are a number of conditions caused by exposure to asbestos, including asbestosis and pleural thickening. These conditions require heavy exposure to asbestos and so it is unlikely that anyone who was exposed to the asbestos from the South Pier would go on to develop these conditions. However, mesothelioma, the asbestos-related cancer, only takes minimal exposure to asbestos, so it is feasible that someone exposed to asbestos from the Pier could go on to develop mesothelioma.

Thankfully, asbestos conditions, particularly mesothelioma, are rare and being exposed to asbestos does not mean someone will develop a condition, they are at risk of it though. Asbestos conditions have a latency period of between 10 and 50 years, this means that the symptoms of the condition are not immediate and take years to develop. Sadly, once exposed to asbestos there is nothing anyone can do about it other than wait to see if they are one of the few that will be affected.

What to do if you’ve had recent exposure to asbestos

If you think you may have had recent exposure to asbestos, we recommend that you:

  • Make a note of the exposure, how, where and when it occurred
  • Obtain insurance details from whoever exposed you to asbestos, in this case it would be The Blackpool Pier Company
  • Get details of any witnesses to your exposure
  • Have your potential exposure to asbestos noted in your medical records
  • Notify the HSE so they can investigate and prevent any further exposure

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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