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Two companies fined for asbestos risk exposure

18 December 2017

Two Yorkshire-based companies were today fined after putting their workers and members of the public at risk from asbestos exposure.

Leeds Crown Court heard how, on 18 August 2014, the now-liquidated Hallmark Design & Shopfitting began refurbishment works for Berry’s jewellery outlet owned by Berens & Company, when it disturbed materials containing asbestos.

Once Hallmark Design & Shopfitting realised it had disturbed asbestos it arranged for a licensed asbestos contractor to remove it under controlled conditions.

However, during a routine HSE inspection of the asbestos removal, it was found that the plan of work for the notifiable asbestos removal works was not suitable, as it was evident that more would need to be removed than originally planned, therefore the licensed contractors agreed to stop work.

A further investigation by the HSE found the client (Berens) had failed to provide the principal contractor (Hallmark) with relevant information regarding the asbestos onsite and did not have a suitable refurbishment and demolition survey for the premises. 

A prohibition notice was served on Hallmark Design & Shopfitting because the company had failed to carry out a suitable and sufficient assessment as to whether asbestos was present or was likely to be present in the premises.

Hallmark Design & Shopfitting, of Harden Beck Mill, Harden, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5 of The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and has since been liquidated, leading to a fine of £1.

Berens & Company, of Albion Street, Leeds, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay £20,000 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Jayne Towey said: “Asbestos still kills around 5,000 workers each year and any building built or refurbished before the year 2000 may contain asbestos.

“The companies in this case did not take account of the risks associated with the disturbance of asbestos and put not only their workers but also the general public at risk of inhaling fibres.”

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