A Cambridgeshire fit-out firm has been fined for ignoring a report indicating asbestos on site

A fit-out firm was fined today after it failed to tell workers they were being exposed to asbestos.

Eastern Regional Shopfitters was prosecuted after it ignored a report of asbestos in a shop it was working on. Despite the report, the firm had let two workers spend five days ripping out old fittings, without informing them of the hazard. Three of the centre’s management staff were also potentially exposed to the fibres.

The firm admitted three breaches of asbestos regulations and one of the healthy and safety Act. It was fined £4,000 by Trafford Magistrates’ Court.

Tom Merry, the investigating inspector at the Health and Safety Executive, said: “Eastern Regional Shopfitters knew asbestos was present in the shop but it didn’t inform its workers and it didn’t ensure it was dealt with safely.

“Abestos only becomes a risk if it is disturbed so the shop fitters could have worked safely if they knew where the asbestos was. It should either have been sealed or removed by a licensed contractor before the work started.

“Five people now have to live with the knowledge that they may become ill with a life-threatening lung disease. Shop fitting and property maintenance companies must treat the risks from asbestos seriously so more lives aren’t put in danger in the future.”

One of the fit-out workers, Mark Green, a 45-year-old from Cambridge, said: “It plays on my mind. I am more aware of the possibility I may become ill and that my life has unwittingly been put on the line.”

The Cambridgeshire firm was also ordered to pay £3,215 towards the cost of the prosecution.