Manchester hostel bosses exposed visitors and workers to deadly asbestos
A judge has found that the owners of a Manchester hostel failed to carry out an asbestos survey, potentially exposing workers and the public to asbestos, a material which can cause fatal diseases.
Hatters Hostel, based in the Northern Quarter of Manchester, was ordered to pay fines and court costs of more than £44,000.
Workers were converting the basement of the building into a ‘tavern’ when Health & Safety inspectors paid an unexpected visit to the site. By the time of the inspection, work had already been underway on the basement for eight months, potentially endangering many builders and subcontractors. Most of the old materials in the renovation had been disposed of, meaning it was impossible to be certain if builders had been exposed to asbestos or not. Part of the building yet to be renovated did contain asbestos.
Prosecutor Joseph Hart said “It’s such an obvious duty to have one (a survey) when the risks of asbestos are so plainly known within the industry. It’s a critical failing – it’s a 19th Century building, almost inevitably there was going to be some asbestos. We don’t know how many workers were exposed, it could have been two people who stripped out the whole of the basement over the course of a year, or more likely a large number of people in a short period of time.”
‘Asbestos is a killer’
Sentencing, Judge Jinder Singh Boora said:
“It’s absolutely essential for companies to perform risk assessments. What’s even more important is if the risk assessment relates to risk which, if it manifests, will lead to either serious injury or death. Asbestos is a killer. If one contracts asbestosis or mesothelioma, death is almost inevitable.”
HSE inspector Matt Greenly said after the case:
“Both Hatters Hostel and Hatters Taverns, which are run by the same family, have completely failed in their duty to protect their workers, subcontractors and visitors to this site from harm. Asbestos related diseases are currently untreatable and claim the lives of an estimated 4,000 people per year in the UK.
“The requirement to have a suitable asbestos survey is clear and well known throughout the construction industry. Only by knowing if asbestos is present in any building before works commence can a contractor ensure that people working on their site are not exposed to these deadly fibres.”
‘Clear Message that it doesn’t pay to ignore risks’
“The cost of an asbestos survey is not great but the legacy facing anyone who worked on this site is immeasurable. They now have to live with the realisation that due to the lack of care taken by Hatters Hostel Limited and Hatters Taverns Limited they may face a life shortening disease at some point over the next 30+ years from an exposure which was totally preventable. This case sends a clear message to any company that it does not pay to ignore well known risks on site.”
Roberts Jackson Solicitors are experts in dealing with asbestosis and mesothelioma cases with a team of solicitors and fee earners, who have a vast amount of experience.
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