Workers exposed to potentially lethal asbestos over five years

Workers of a furnishing company were exposed to potentially lethal asbestos for five years, the Manchester Evening News has reported.

A recent article read:


More than a dozen workers were exposed to potentially deadly asbestos after a ‘reckless’ company boss failed to spot it for FIVE years.

David Mansfield, CEO of a furnishing company, told workers they were not at risk despite not carrying out asbestos checks at his factory in Rochdale.

And once asbestos was detected, Mansfield ignored an order banning anyone from entering – going into the building with his nephew to pick up some furniture.

Mansfield, 48, employed 17 people at Mansfield Soft Furnishings, most of whom were family members or extended family, and all were exposed to asbestos which had been disturbed over the five year period.

He has now ordered to hand over £60,000 after being found guilty of health and safety breaches at Minshull Street Crown Court.

Judge Leslie Hull said: “For a period of about five years Mr Mansfield, the director behind the company, had exposed the workforce to the risk of a potentially lethal exposure to asbestos.

“It seems absolutely clear to me that Mr Mansfield was reckless in the extreme in what he did do and in what he didn’t do.

“The company should have carried out an asbestos survey at a much earlier stage.”

When Mansfield bought Meadowcroft Mill in 2007 a building survey was conducted but no asbestos inspection was carried out.

Defending Michael Lavery said that Mansfield had ‘naively’ trusted the opinion of an independent architect who, he said, had advised him that there was no asbestos in the building.

In July 2012 the Health and Safety Executive carried out a fire safety inspection and found asbestos in the coating of the ceiling of a first floor mezzanine.

Materials stored in the mezzanine were regularly moved by employees causing asbestos fibres to be released, which means it can be potentially lethal.

On July 12 HSE ordered that no one should re-enter the building until it had been cleaned of asbestos.

But Mansfield and his nephew ignored the prohibition order by picking up and delivering furniture.

Judge Hull added: “All that can be said is that there was a significant risk carried to the workforce.”

Mansfield Soft Furnishings was fined a total of £30,000. They were fined £20,000 under section two of the Health and Safety at Work Act, which states that employers should ensure the health, safety and welfare of workers.

The company was also fined £10,000 for breaching a notice from the HSE banning anyone from re-entering the building.

Mansfield himself was fined £10,000 for breaching the notice and ordered to pay £20,000 in costs to the HSE.

He admitted all the offences.

Some 4,000 people die every year from inhaling asbestos fibres. Inspector David Norton from the HSE said: “Workers at Mansfield Soft Furnishings will have to live the rest of their lives knowing they’re at risk of contracting a deadly lung disease because of the actions of their employer.”

A spokesman for Mansfield Soft Furnishings said: “Mansfield Soft Furnishings Limited deeply regret the circumstances which led to asbestos not being detected in its premises. The company has cooperated with the Health and Safety Executive throughout its investigation. The company is committed to ensuring the health, safety and welfare of its employees and the management has not, and never knowingly will, put this at risk.

“The company has learnt lessons from this regrettable position and is now in a better position to protect its employees in the future. All the remedial steps advised and required by the HSE have been followed expeditiously.”

If you would like further information regarding asbestos-related illness compensation, please click here or call 0800 107 3000.

Back to News

Request a Callback

Request a callback and our team will be back in touch as quickly as possible for a free initial consultation. We're continuing to deliver a quality service and our teams are available to take new enquiries and manage existing caseloads via calls and/or video conferencing.