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SHOPFITTERS AND CLIENT STAFF EXPOSED TO ASBESTOS

Presence of asbestos not revealed to shopfitters on Manchester Arndale Centre

Eastern Regional Shopfitters Ltd has been ordered to pay over £7k in fines and prosecution costs after admitting breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.

The prosecution comes after the company ignored a report which stated asbestos was present.  Five people were exposed to asbestos fibres.

Two construction workers spent five days removing shop fittings before they discovered that asbestos had been used in some of the ceiling panels.

In addition, staff at the Arndale Centre were also potentially exposed to the fibres during routine checks on the work.

Exposure leaves ongoing worry

One of the shopfitters Mark Green, 45 of Cambridge said:

“It plays on my mind. I am more aware of the possibility I may become ill and that my life has unwittingly been put on the line. I hope that companies in the construction industry, no matter what their size, now begin to take asbestos more seriously.

They should put everyone who works for them on asbestos awareness courses because workers need to be more aware. When I go on a job now, the first question I ask is ‘Have you done an asbestos report?’ and then, if it is present, ‘What will your actions be?’.”

Firm failed to inform workforce

Tom Merry, the investigating inspector at HSE, said:

“Eastern Regional Shopfitters knew asbestos was present in the shop but it didn’t inform its workers and it didn’t ensure it was dealt with safely.

“Asbestos only becomes a risk if it is disturbed so the shop fitters could have worked safely if they knew where the asbestos was. It should either have been sealed or removed by a licensed contractor before the work started.

Eastern Regional Shopfitters Ltd was charged with breaching Regulations 5, 8 and 11 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 by failing to carry out a suitable assessment of the asbestos, carrying out asbestos removal without a license, and exposing workers to asbestos.

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