A leading hotel chain has been ordered to pay more than £200,000 in fines and costs after construction workers and guests were put at risk of asbestos exposure at a Kent hotel. Cheshire-based Britannia Hotels Ltd failed to ensure a full asbestos assessment was undertaken before construction workers refurbished a wing of The Grand Burstin Hotel in Harbour Way, Folkestone, between February and July 2010.
Canterbury Crown Court heard (2/3 April) that an asbestos surveyor called to the site after work began discovered the widespread presence of asbestos in the eaves of the building. He also found asbestos on the second floor, which was likely to be linked to the removal of walls and ceilings as part of the refurbishment.
A licensed asbestos contractor had to be called in to remove the material and seal off the contaminated area to prevent fibres spreading to other parts of the hotel. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was also notified. Britannia Hotels Ltd, of Hale Road, Cheshire, pleaded guilty to two separate breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined a total of £160,000 and ordered to pay £40,051 in costs. After the hearing, HSE inspector Melvyn Stancliffe said: “Britannia Hotels Ltd carried out refurbishment work without carrying out a full and proper asbestos survey before works got underway. The company’s failure to deal with the asbestos could have resulted in up to 22 workers being exposed to asbestos from the outset of the project until the end of July 2010. “This situation was wholly avoidable and I hope today’s prosecution also highlights the need to ensure that workers are given the appropriate training to ensure that asbestos is properly managed and dealt with.”