Tenants exposed to asbestos at Bolton mill
A landlord and a letting agents have been prosecuted for failing to protect tenants from the risk of asbestos exposure at a mill in Bolton.
Manchester Crown Court heard that the HSE found dozens of damaged asbestos boards stacked up at Brownlow Mill during a visit to the site on 20 October 2010.
Hazelwise Ltd owns the mill and four floors are let out to tenants by RH Property Management Ltd. A contractor notified the HSE to raise concerns that asbestos insulation boards had been stripped out of unoccupied floors at the mill, releasing asbestos fibres into the air.
When an inspector visited the site, he issued two Prohibition Notices; one banning the removal of tools and other items from four floors of the mill in case they had become contaminated with asbestos fibres, and the other preventing access to the floors.
The inspector also found asbestos was present in other occupied parts of the mill, but nothing had been done to protect these tenants from exposure to the hazardous substance.
The investigation identified that RH Property Management Ltd had raised concerns in 2006 about the building not having an asbestos survey, but took no further action. Hazelwise Ltd failed to act on this request and didn’t arrange for an asbestos survey to be conducted.
HSE inspector Philip Strickland said: “Workers at Brownlow Mill have been exposed to potentially deadly fibres because neither company did anything to find out where asbestos was on the site.
“It’s a legal requirement for owners and letting agents of commercial properties to carry out an assessment as to whether asbestos is present in a building, and what action is needed to keep it safe.”
Both companies appeared in court on 24 August and pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) of the HSWA 1974. Hazelwise Ltd also pleaded guilty to breaching reg.4(3) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and was fined a total of £40,000 and £8969 in costs. RH Property Management Ltd was fined £15,000 with costs of £11,011.
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