Stevenage Magistrates’ Court has fined a St Albans cinema director £11,660 and ordered to pay £7,000 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and to breaching Regulation 5 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and Regulation 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.
An investigation held by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) highlighted that a 68 year old, from Berkhampstead put both employees and members of the public at risk of asbestos exposure during a refurbishment of a multiscreen cinema.
The court was told that the refurbishment began in 2010 without the appropriate asbestos checks.
An asbestos survey was carried out in October 2012 which, even after debris had been removed, revealed the presence of asbestos. The HSE told the court that despite being advised to keep out of dangerous zones, the director continued to allow access to view ongoing work.
After the case was heard, Paul Hoskins from the HSE said: “HSE takes these potential disturbances very seriously. This is another example of a company failing to carry out the required asbestos checks before refurbishment work starts. A survey is required to ensure asbestos is identified and removed to prevent inadvertent disturbance.”
“Asbestos had been previously identified in a survey of the building carried out before it was purchased. However, it is not known whether or not asbestos materials were actually disturbed during the refurbishment.”
“If asbestos disturbance did occur, it is likely that some workers and members of the public would have been exposed to asbestos fibres. This exposure, would give rise to an increased risk of developing asbestos related disease in the future.”
“Fortunately however, the increased risk would be low due to the short duration of the work.”
“Asbestos exposure incidents understandably cause anxiety about the possible long-term health effects. Although in this case it is not certain that asbestos has been disturbed, individuals involved may still wish to consult their GP.”
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