A Warrington-based construction company has been fined £90,000 after exposing people to asbestos during a renovation project in the Hanley area of Stoke-on-Trent.
Despite failing to attend Staffordshire Magistrates’ Court on 24 August 2023, Esskay Construction Ltd was found guilty in its absence.
Nathan Cook, prosecuting on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) told the court how the regulator received a concern on 31 August 2021 about asbestos disturbance. The concern related to a refurbishment project under the control of the company at an address in Brunswick Street in Hanley.
Representatives from the local authority had attended the site and discovered significant amounts of asbestos-containing debris to the front and rear of the building and along the public highway.
An inspector from HSE then went to site and served two Prohibition Notices – prohibiting all work within, and access to, 12 Brunswick Street and the surrounding area, other than by a licensed asbestos removal contractor for the purpose of making safe. A licensed asbestos removal contractor was then appointed to carry out a clean-up operation.
However, further investigation by HSE found that Esskay Construction Ltd had failed to appoint a competent person to carry out a refurbishment and demolition asbestos survey of the premises prior to carrying out work on site. The company then allowed refurbishment to commence without knowing where the asbestos containing materials were, resulting in them being disturbed and potentially exposing workers and members of the public to harmful asbestos fibres.
Esskay Construction Ltd were fined £90,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,009 and a victim surcharge of £190.