Pavers Shoe Shop fined after exposing staff to deadly asbestos
A high street shoe store in Liverpool has been fined £45,000 after exposing asbestos to staff and possibly customers at their Liverpool branch.
Environmental health officers found boxes of shoes stashed in basement alcoves among damaged ceiling tiles and pipework when they investigated Pavers Ltd. The firm were ordered that those rooms were to be locked up under the terms of a Prohibition Notice, but just months later the council discovered they “had been accessed by the store manager on the instruction of Pavers’ head office”. Head office had also instructed the shop manager to remove the exposed stock – ignoring Liverpool Council after told the rooms were to be locked up.
Town hall safety officers visited the Lord Street store in 2012 to investigate complaints staff had been exposed to asbestos. Signs warning “Danger Asbestos” and “Do Not Enter” were placed on the doors to two rooms.
Yet both were unlocked and – despite defective ceiling tiles and pipework being lagged with damaged insulation – shoes and shop equipment were stored inside.
It was also discovered the manager was not told to wear any protective clothing and had not received any asbestos awareness training from Pavers about asbestos before entering the rooms.
New visits showed that shoe boxes had been removed from the rooms and sold on from the store or returned to Pavers’ head office in York – potentially exposing people to asbestos fibres which can lead to serious disease.
Sentencing the company at Liverpool Crown Court, Judge Graham Morrow 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 Ltd was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £120 and full costs of £12,180.66 were awarded to Liverpool council.
Financial sums will never compensate for the health of an employee. Unfortunately, there are individuals like the head office workers that don’t think about the consequences of their actions before it is too late.
The appropriate training and procedures in place for these employees could have prevented them from interacting with the asbestos fibres if they had known the seriousness of the situation they were in.
Asbestos disease is not a ‘thing of the past’ and is still very much affecting the lives of people today.
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