Asbestos risk to public during cinema refurb

10th December 2015

A St Albans cinema boss has been fined after he put workers and members of the public at risk of exposure to asbestos.

James Hannaway, 68, from Berkhamstead, the sole director of The Alpha Cinema (St Albans) Limited was prosecuted by the HSE after he allowed refurbishment of the derelict multiscreen cinema to begin in 2010 without proper checks for asbestos. Stevenage Magistrates’ Court heard that in April 2012, Hannaway went on to engage around 30 members of the public to remove the debris from the demolition work over the course of two days. An asbestos survey was eventually carried out in early October 2012, which identified the presence of asbestos in the building (after the debris removal), and recommended that no-one entered the affected areas.

Despite this, the court was told Hannaway was seen taking people into the building to view the ongoing work. Hannaway of Waterside, Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire pleaded guilty to safety breaches and was fined £11,660 and ordered to pay £7,000 in costs.

HSE Inspector Paul Hoskins stated: “HSE takes these potential disturbances very seriously.
“This is another example of a company failing to carry out the required asbestos checks before refurbishment work starts. A survey is required to ensure asbestos is identified and removed to prevent inadvertent disturbance.” Asbestos had been previously identified in a survey of the building carried out before it was purchased. But it is not known whether or not asbestos materials were actually disturbed during the refurbishment.