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Asbestos exposure found at Britannia Hotels

A leading hotel chain has been hit with a £200,000 bill after construction workers and guests were put at risk of asbestos exposure at a Kent hotel.

Cheshire-based Britannia Hotels Ltd failed to ensure a full asbestos assessment was carried out before refurbishment was undertaken at a wing of the Grand Burstin Hotel in Harbour Way, Folkestone, in spring 2010.

Canterbury Crown Court heard this week that a surveryor called to the site after work began discovered a widespread asbestos presence in the eaves of the building.

He also found asbestos on the second floor, likely to be linked to the removal of walls and ceilings as part of the refurbishment project.

A licenced contractor had to be called in to remove the material and seal off the area, preventing fibres spreading to other parts of the hotel.

It is not yet known if any workers or guests were directly affected, as symptoms of related diseases can take years to develop.

The hotel firm pleaded guilty to two separate breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act, being fined a total of £160,000 and ordered to pay £40,051 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Melvyn Stancliffe said: “Britannia Hotels Ltd carried out refurbishment work without carrying out a full and proper asbestos survey before works got underway.”

“The company’s failure to deal with the asbestos could have resulted in up to 22 workers being exposed to asbestos from the outset of the project until the end of July 2010.

“Although guests did not have direct access to the floors where asbestos was found, it is possible that the fibres may have spread into areas that were still open to them. The simple fact is that because of the company’s failures, both guests and workers have been put at risk, and they now face an uncertain future.

“This situation was wholly avoidable and I hope today’s prosecution also highlights the need to ensure that workers are given the appropriate training to ensure that asbestos is properly managed and dealt with.”


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