Workers exposed to asbestos during hotel demolition job

The director of a Cornish housebuilder has been fined more than £60,000 after workers were exposed to asbestos during a hotel demolition job.

Paul Stephens, director of Stephens Developers Ltd, pleaded guilty at Truro Crown Court to breaching asbestos regulations, according the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The prosecution by the HSE came after the discovery in 2020 of extensive asbestos debris after the demolition of the Cliffdene Hotel, Newquay.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE principal inspector Georgina Symons said: “The hotel was not in a state of disrepair and presented no structural danger, so there is no reason why the removal of ACMs [asbestos-containing materials] could not be done ahead of its demolition.”

The hotel closed in 2018 and was part of a redevelopment plan to build flats on the site.

In 2020, an HSE investigation found evidence that significant spreading of asbestos had occurred, and that actions taken to control exposure had been inadequate.

Stephens was charged for failure to take reasonably practicable steps to contain the spread of asbestos, the HSE said.

In court, he pled guilty to breaching regulation 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 by virtue of Section 37(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The 2012 regulations impose a duty for the safe management of asbestos during construction work.

Stephens was fined £65,813 and ordered to pay costs of £26,116 at Truro Crown Court on 24 April 2024.

Last month, Construction News published an investigation into the legacy of asbestos and asked whether enough was being done about the dangers it poses today.

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