Shoe shop staff exposed to asbestos

Pavers Ltd admitted a breach of a prohibition notice issued on its shop in Lord Street after a prosecution by Liverpool City Council.

On 21 November 2012 an Environmental Health Officer from Liverpool City Council visited the shop to investigate two complaints relating to the exposure of  staff to asbestos.

During the inspection the officer went into the basement which was used to store cardboard boxes of shoes and various other items. On doors to two additional store rooms in the basement he saw notices stating “Danger Asbestos” and “Do Not Enter”.

The doors to these rooms were both unlocked and from the entrance to these rooms the officer could see the ceiling tiles were in a defective condition and pipework was lagged with damaged insulation. There were numerous shoe boxes and shop equipment stored in these rooms.

A health and safety prohibition notice was served which prohibited access into both stock rooms. Sometime later, in 2013, information was obtained by the council that the stock rooms subject to the prohibition notice had been accessed by the store manager on the instruction of Pavers’ head office.

The officer revisited Pavers and found that stock and equipment had in fact been removed from the two basement stock rooms. The store manager was not told to wear any protective equipment and had not received any information or training from Pavers about asbestos before entering the stock rooms. Shoe boxes which were removed from the stock rooms were then sold on in the Lord Street store to members of the public and some were returned to Pavers head office in York.Pavers

In this case the risk was exposure to asbestos fibres which can lead to serious disease including mesothelioma and asbestosis.

On 28 January 2016 at Liverpool Magistrates Court, Pavers Ltd pleaded guilty to one offence under section 33 (1) (g) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, which makes it an offence for a person to contravene any requirement or prohibition imposed by a Prohibition Notice.

Pavers Ltd were sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court on the 22 April by Judge Graham Morrow, who in his sentencing said;:”Such a blatant disregard of that Notice makes the case more serious than the potential underlying offences. Furthermore the means of the company are such that the fine must be sufficiently substantial to have a real economic impact which will bring home to both management and shareholders for the need to comply with health and safety legislation.”

Pavers were also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £120. Full costs of £12,180.66 were awarded to Liverpool City Council.