Hotel refurbishment disturbed asbestos

Firm failed to act on well-founded asbestos concerns expressed by employee

A hotelier has been fined £80,000 after asbestos containing materials (ACMs) were disturbed during a major refurbishment at The Park Hotel in Barnstaple, Devon between Oct 2016 and May 2017.

Newton Abbot Magistrates heard that construction work was undertaken to refurbish the hotel. Parts of the hotel were originally constructed during the 1960’s and 1970’s when asbestos was a popular building material. The project aimed to refit and refurbish bathrooms and bedrooms.

HSE investigators found that at an early stage of the work an employee raised concerns about the potential presence o

f ACMs 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 confirmed.

Further incident

Whilst the HSE investigation was in progress a further incident occurred in May 2017 where ACMs were disturbed during bathroom refurbishment works being undertaken. The planning undertaken for this work, which included an assessment as to the presence of ACMs, 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.

  • 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.

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