Family-owned hotel group Brend Hotels has been fined almost £100,000 for putting the health and safety of its employees at risk by disturbing asbestos during a major renovation project at one of its Devon hotels.
Percy R Brend & Sons, which trades as Brend Hotels, pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of almost £15,000 by a district judge.
The judge found that work between October 2016 and May 2017 at Park Hotel in Barnstaple had disturbed asbestos, exposing staff to the material during a £2m renovation of the hotel’s bedrooms and bathrooms.
The charges relate to the exposure of employees to risks through asbestos. It also failed to discharge a duty to persons not in its employment were not exposed to risks to their health and safety.
Richard Brend, director of Brend Hotels said that it was ‘hugely disappointing’ that standards were not met and apologised to all staff and customers following the ruling.
Newton Abbot Magistrates’ Court heard that between October 2016 and May 2017 construction work was undertaken to refurbish the hotel on Taw Vale, parts of which dated back to the 1960s and 70s when asbestos was a popular building material.
Brend said: “For over 50 years we have taken exceptional pride in our approach to hospitality and have built our business on going that extra mile in all areas including health & safety, and so it’s hugely disappointing that on this occasion those strict standards were not met.
“We recognise we should have done more to ensure the safety of our staff and contractors during the refurbishment of the first floor bedrooms.
“We want to take this moment to apologise on behalf of the Directors of Brend Hotels.
“The health, safety and wellbeing of our guests, employees, suppliers and contractors is of the utmost importance to us and until now we have always had an exceptional health & safety record.
“We have vigorously reviewed all of our procedures to ensure the ongoing safety of everyone visiting or working in our hotels.”
Brend Hotels comprises a portfolio of three- and four-star hotels in Devon and Cornwall, including Saunton Sands Hotel in North Devon and The Devon Hotel in Exeter.