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A basement conversion being carried out by two companies in Manchester has resulted in the discovery of asbestos and its unsafe removal, resulting a hefty fine.

Hatters Taverns Ltd. had placed its sister company Hatters Hostel Ltd. as the contractor responsible for a basement conversion in Manchester. The former restaurant unit was to be fully stripped and refurbished, so that it could be turned into a bar venue. However, Manchester Crown Court heard that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had conducted an inspection of the premises without any warning.

Inspectors found that an asbestos survey had not been carried out prior to work commencing, placing the lives of employees, visitors and subcontractors at risk. Hatters Hostel Ltd. was fined £24,000, along with costs of £10,232.50, while Hatters Taverns Ltd. was fined £10,000. Hatters Hostel Ltd. was ordered to pay the costs for both cases.

Matt Greenly, the HSE inspector, said that both companies had failed in their duty of care to workers, visitors and subcontractors. He added that around 4,000 people die each year as a result of exposure to asbestos, mainly as illnesses related to asbestos remain untreatable. Greenly stated that the construction industry was aware of the requirement for an asbestos survey, and no work should ever be carried out until the company was sure that there was no risk of asbestos being uncovered.

Removal of asbestos is a specialist area and the use of PPE is required along, with a specified removal system.

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