Companies fined after asbestos is found at a mill in Bolton

 By Warren Miller.    25th January 2013

Workers at a mill in Bolton were exposed to asbestos because 2 companies had failed to take the necessary precautions. The case was brought against Hazelwise Ltd and RH Property Management Ltd at Manchester Crown Court in August 2012.

The court heared that neither company had any plan to manage the asbestos after dozens of asbestos sheets were found on a visit to the Brownlow Mill in 2010 by The Health & Safety Executive.

Several local businesses were renting units in the vicinity and may well have been exposed to the deadly asbestos fibres.

asbestos mill

A contractor had seen the boards and was concerned that when they were stripped from the unoccupied floors at the mill that asbestos may have been disturbed, so he contacted the HSE.

The inspectors quickly closed off the floor and put up notices to ban the removal tools and other items to prevent further asbestos contamination.

They also found evidence of asbestos in other parts of the mill, some of it was occupied by the small businesses, but nothing was done to ensure the safety of the tenants.

Criminal Proceedings against Mill Owner and Property Management Company

The court was told that RH Property Management was concerned about the asbestos in 2006, but failed to take action. Hazelwise Ltd who owned the mill also failed to carry out an asbestos survey at the time.

Both companies pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the health and safety of people at the mill - a clear breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974. Hazelwise also admitted to failing to assess the risks from asbestos at the site - a breach of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.

The property management company, RH Property Management Ltd was fined £15,000 with costs of £11,011.
The mill owner, Hazelwise Ltd was fined £40,000 with costs of £8,969.

After the court case, Philip Strickland, the HSE inspector 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 is 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. If employers don't take the risks from asbestos seriously, then thousands of people will continue to die in the UK every year as a result of breathing in asbestos fibres. ”

Mills often used the heat resistant qualities of asbestos to line walls and ceilings. This can be a huge problem if these old buildings are let out or sold without a proper asbestos survey. Asbestos is very dangerous when disturbed and the dust becomes airborne.

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