Asbestos disturbed – hoteliers fines

A Devon based hoteliers was been sentenced after asbestos-containing materials (ACM) were disturbed during a major refurbishment at The Park Hotel in Barnstaple.

The Magistrates’ Court in Newton Abbot heard that between October 2016 and May 2017 construction work was undertaken to refurbish the hotel on Taw Vale. Parts of the hotel were originally constructed during the 1960s and 1970s when asbestos was a popular building material. The project aimed to refit and refurbish bathrooms and bedrooms.

Asbestos disturbed

An investigation by the HSE found that, at an early stage of the work, an employee raised concerns about the potential presence of  ACM within the rooms under refurbishment. Enquiries were made but no physical testing of the materials being disturbed was undertaken. Work continued for several more months and concerns about the materials within the bedrooms and bathrooms were raised again by external contractors. Testing of the material being disturbed was eventually conducted in February 2017 and the presence of ACMs was confirmed.

Whilst the HSE investigation was in progress the defendant had a further incident in May 2017 where ACM were disturbed during bathroom refurbishment works being undertaken. The planning undertaken for this work, which had included an assessment as to the presence of ACM, 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 investigation also found that refurbishment work was undertaken at the hotel without the appropriate assessment as to the presence of ACM. Once identified the hotel took remedial action which included sampling of common parts for asbestos fibres, which came back as negative.

Percy R Brend and Sons (Hoteliers) Ltd of Taw Vale, Barnstaple pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. They have been 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 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.