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Hotel chain fined for asbestos risk

08-04-2013

The Grand Burstin Hotel in Harbour Way, Folkestone

A leading hotel chain has been ordered to pay more than £200,000 in fines and costs 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 undertaken before construction workers refurbished a wing of The Grand Burstin Hotel in Harbour Way, Folkestone, between February and July 2010.

Canterbury Crown Court heard (2/3 April) that an asbestos surveyor called to the site after work began discovered the widespread presence of asbestos in the eaves of the building. He also found asbestos on the second floor, which was likely to be linked to the removal of walls and ceilings as part of the refurbishment.

A licensed asbestos contractor had to be called in to remove the material and seal off the contaminated area to prevent fibres spreading to other parts of the hotel. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was also notified.

Due to the long latency period of asbestos-related illnesses, it is not yet known whether any construction workers or hotel guests were directly affected. Inhaling asbestos fibres can cause serious diseases such as lung cancer or lung scarring, but symptoms can take years to develop after exposure.

Britannia Hotels Ltd., of Hale Road, Cheshire, pleaded guilty to two separate breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined a total of £160,000 and ordered to pay £40,051 in costs.

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