Manchester Magistrates’ court heard how UK Night Life Limited and its sole director, Charles John McGrath, undertook the management of a refurbishment project between 1 August and 12 August 2015 on The Level nightclub, Mawdsley Street, Bolton without an experienced contractor in place to manage the site. Up to 20 workers were potentially exposed to deadly asbestos fibres in order for the club to open in time for Fresher’s week and an influx of students to the club.
The site first came to the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) attention in August 2015 following a complaint from Bolton Council regarding unsafe construction works throughout the site.
The HSE inspector served a total of three Prohibition Notices and two Improvement Notices, along with a Notification of Contravention for a foreseeable risk of asbestos exposure, a lack of competent site manager, risks of falls from height, unsuitable welfare facilities and inadequate fire safety precautions.
Charles McGrath, sole director of UK Night Life Limited, of Mawdsley Street, Bolton, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and Regulations 5(a) and 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, and was fined £5,720.00 with costs of £3,535.86.
In his summing up, District Judge Sanders remarked that Mr McGrath had chosen to rush through the works with unqualified and inexperienced people running the site on a day-to-day basis. He went on to say that it was clear that these offences amounted to a ‘degree of cost cutting at the expense of safety’.
HSE inspector Matt Greenly said after the case: “Mr McGrath totally failed in his duty to protect his workers, subcontractors and anyone else accessing this site from a foreseeable risk of serious harm. Asbestos related diseases are currently untreatable and claim the lives of an estimated 5,000 people per year in the UK.
“The requirement to have a suitable asbestos survey is clear and well known throughout the construction industry. Only by knowing if asbestos is present in any building before works commence can a contractor ensure that people working on their site are not exposed to these deadly fibres.
“The cost of an asbestos survey is minimal compared to the legacy facing anyone who worked on this site. They now have to live with the realisation that due to the lack of care taken by Mr McGrath they may face a life shortening disease at some point over the next 30 or more years, from an exposure which was totally preventable. This case sends a clear message to any company that it does not pay to ignore risks on site, especially to simply keep to a self-imposed tight schedule.”