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Furniture maker ignored asbestos warnings for 14 years

A furniture maker that failed to produce an asbestos management plan for 14 years would have faced an £800,000 penalty if it had not fallen into administration.

Furniture maker ignored asbestos warnings for 14 years
Godfrey-Syrett was sentenced on 21 February, when North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard it had not introduced an asbestos management plan nor carried out remedial work after a 2003 asbestos survey identified asbestos containing materials at its factory in Killingworth, Newcastle upon Tyne. 
An employee raised a concern to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in 2017 and a subsequent investigation found the company had failed to take reasonable steps to protect its workers from exposure to the dangerous fibres. 
It also had failed to inform maintenance staff of the location of the asbestos to ensure they didn’t disturb it. 
Godfrey-Syrett was found guilty in its absence of breaching s 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and reg 4(8) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations. The district judge reduced the fine from £800,000 to £1 because the company was in administration. 
For the year ended 31 December 2015, prior to the administration, the company turned over £26.5m. 
HSE inspector Ashfaq Ali said: “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.”


Keeley Downey was the former assistant editor of IOSH Magazine. Previously she was editor of Biofuels International, Bioenergy Insight and Tank Cleaning Magazine

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  • Great to see the managem

    Permalink Submitted by Stuart Groves - Shropshire Asbestos Services on 26 February 2019 - 01:42 pm

    Great to see the management angle is being recognised, not just the survey or removal! regulation 4(8) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations is implicit in the requirement to have a written plan in place.. I wonder how many duty holders can say they have a plan that is suitable and sufficient?? the survey report only partially fulfils the legal requirements. The obligation to manage your asbestos has been a legal requirement since 2004 - time to health check your compliance and ensure you have an asbestos management plan, that it's suitable, accurate and up to date!! Lots of really good consultants out there able to support clients with this - myself included - how many times has the Q of a management or communications plan been raised by the client? I can count on a clenched fist

    • Very well identified and

      Permalink Submitted by Shabbir Halai from Safety is the Key on 5 March 2019 - 06:36 pm

      Very well identified and pointed out Stuart. The survey is the start of the protection program, but only the start!


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