The British Health and Safety Executive (“HSE”), the regulator responsible for ensuring workplace safety in the United Kingdom, has received court approval for a £40,000 combined fine on top of £20,000 in costs awarded by the Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester, England against Rochdale-based Mansfield Soft Furnishings Ltd, and its owner David Mansfield for violations of asbestos laws.
According to the HSE, Mansfield reckless and dangerous conduct resulted in his 30 employees being exposed to asbestos fibers for a period of five years. In 2007, Mansfield moved his company, which refurbishes furniture for hotels and restaurants, into Meadowcroft Mill in Rochdale, England. Mansfield failed to perform an asbestos survey as required by law, even after several of his workers raised concerns about the possibility that the powder contained on one floor of the mill looked suspicious.
Mansfield’s workers used that floor of the mill extensively and the powder spread throughout the factory as a result of the work activity. In June 2012, an HSE inspector visited the factory on an unrelated matter and noticed the powder. The inspector issued an immediate Improvement Notice requiring an asbestos survey. The survey revealed that the entire factory had become contaminated with asbestos from the dust found on one of the floors of the mill. On July 10, 2012, the HSE issued a Prohibition Notice, which banned entrance into the mill until it was decontaminated.
Mansfield blatantly disregarded the notice, and entered the building with another worker to remove £25,000 worth of furniture to deliver to a client.
The court approved a fine of £30,000 against the company, £10,000 against Mansfield personally, and £20,000 in costs to be paid jointly by Mansfield and his company.
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