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Manufacturer failed to protect workers from asbestos

25 February 2019

A FURNITURE manufacturing company, Godfrey-Syrett Limited (in administration), was sentenced for failing to prevent exposure to asbestos at its factory in Killingworth, Newcastle upon Tyne.

North Tyneside Magistrates heard how during a 14-year period, following an asbestos survey carried out in 2003 which identified the presence of asbestos containing materials, the company failed to introduce an adequate management plan or carry out remedial work to prevent potential exposure to asbestos fibres. In 2017 an employee raised a concern to the Health and Safety Executive.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company had failed to take measures necessary to protect employees from exposure to asbestos. It also failed to ensure that maintenance workers were made aware of the location of the asbestos to ensure they didn’t disturb it.

Godfrey-Syrett Limited (in administration) of Planet Place, Killingworth, Newcastle upon Tyne was found guilty in its absence of breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and regulation 4(8) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. The District Judge said the fine would have been £800,000 but that this was reduced to £1 due to the company being in administration.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Ashfaq Ali said, “Asbestos remains in many buildings where people work. If it is managed and in good condition, there is nothing to worry about. Unfortunately, the company didn’t do what the law required and the asbestos in the building was not managed or maintained. This is a real risk and a clear breach of the law which required HSE to prosecute even though the company is in administration.”