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An upholstery firm based in Rochdale has been fined after workers at the company were exposed to asbestos. With exposure lasting up to five years, a director of the firm was also fined.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) brought the case against Mansfield Soft Furnishings Ltd and David Mansfield.

Manchester's Minshull Street Crown Court heard that from September 2007 to July 2012 as many as 30 employees were at risk of breathing asbestos fibres.

Following a relocation to Meadowcroft Mill, the firm installed a mezzanine floor for storage. Used to store furniture foam, staff would often drag items across the eaves, which caused fibres from the asbestos in the roof to move through the air.

Despite staff raising concerns about the insulation material used, no action was taken. It was not until June 2012, on a separate HSE visit, that the issue was officially noted. The resultant survey confirmed the presence of asbestos in the poorly maintained roof.

A Prohibition Notice was served on July 10th 2012, which prevented any access to the building until work had been carried out.

However, this notice was ignored by Mansfield, who entered the building with another employee on the same day to recover furniture for a customer order. Neither individual was wearing suitable personal protective equipment (PPE).

Admitting guilt for the breach of the order, Mansfield was fined £10,000. Pleading guilty to two health and safety at work breaches, the company was fined £30,000. Costs of £20,000 were also ordered to be met by both defendants.

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