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Lack of asbestos survey costly for Bolton nightclub owner

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The need to meet deadlines is no excuse for failing to follow asbestos regulations on construction projects, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned.

Its intervention came after a Bolton nightclub owner was fined more than £5,000 after failing to undertake an asbestos survey before beginning refurbishment work at his venue.

Charles John McGrath, the sole director of UK Night Life Limited, found himself in court after workers were potentially exposed to asbestos fibres during work to refurbish The Level nightclub in August 2015.

Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard that Mr McGrath pushed ahead with plans to give the venue a makeover in time for the typically busy period of freshers’ week, despite not having an experienced contractor in place to manage the project.

Bolton Council officials deemed the construction site to be unsafe and called in HSE inspectors, who discovered a number of issues with fire safety precautions, fall risks and inadequate welfare facilities for workers.

Perhaps most seriously of all, the inspectors issued a Notification of Contravention for a foreseeable risk of asbestos exposure, as around 20 workers were at risk of being exposed to asbestos fibres - something that can cause terminal illnesses.

Mr McGrath pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and Regulations 5(a) and 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 at a hearing in October 2016 and was fined £5,720.00 with costs of £3,535.86.

District Judge Sanders told Mr McGrath it was clear that by trying to push the work through as quickly as possible and without taking the proper steps to protect workers he had attempted to achieve a “degree of cost cutting at the expense of safety”.

HSE inspector Matt Greenly agreed with that assessment, and warned: “This case sends a clear message to any company that it does not pay to ignore risks on site, especially to simply keep to a self-imposed tight schedule.”

The inspector added that there was no excuse for beginning a refurbishment project without first having a suitable asbestos survey carried out and acting on its recommendations, as the requirement was well known throughout the construction industry.

He said: “The cost of an asbestos survey is minimal compared to the legacy facing anyone who worked on this site. They now have to live with the realisation that due to the lack of care taken by Mr McGrath they may face a life shortening disease at some point over the next 30 or more years, from an exposure which was totally preventable.”

BLS Asbestos are asbestos contractors who can undertake asbestos refurbishment and demolition surveys at sites across north-west England, Yorkshire, the Midlands and north-east, and are also licensed to remove and dispose of asbestos.

Contact us via the website or by calling 01484 400558 to arrange a quote for your project.

Published: 11th October 2016