Proud to be celebrating 170 years in business

Company fined after exposing employees to asbestos

A furniture manufacturing company, Godfrey-Syrett Limited (in administration), has been sentenced for failing to prevent exposure to asbestos at its factory in Killingworth, Newcastle upon Tyne.

North Tyneside Magistrates heard how during a 14-year period, following an asbestos survey carried out in 2003 which identified the presence of asbestos containing materials, the company failed to introduce an adequate management plan or carry out remedial work to prevent potential exposure to asbestos fibres. In 2017 an employee raised a concern to the Health and Safety Executive.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company had failed to take measures necessary to protect employees from exposure to asbestos. It also failed to ensure that maintenance workers were made aware of the location of the asbestos to ensure they didn’t disturb it.

Godfrey-Syrett Limited (in administration) was found guilty in its absence of breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and regulation 4(8) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. The District Judge said the fine would have been £800,000 but that this was reduced to £1 due to the company being in administration.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Ashfaq Ali said, “Asbestos remains in many buildings where people work. If it is managed and in good condition, there is nothing to worry about. Unfortunately, the company didn’t do what the law required and the asbestos in the building was not managed or maintained. This is a real risk and a clear breach of the law which required HSE to prosecute even though the company is in administration.”

Asbestos is a general term used for a group of fibrous minerals known for their thermal resistance, strength and acoustic insulation. Several types of asbestos were commonly used commercially such as blue asbestos (crocidolite), brown asbestos (amosite) and white asbestos (chrysotile).

Asbestos is known to cause mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and pleural thickening. Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive form of cancer and a patient’s prognosis is often measured in months. Lung cancer can develop slowly and in most cases, by the time a patient presents with symptoms of lung cancer, it is has already advanced to an incurable disease. Asbestosis and pleural thickening are extremely debilitating and can also be fatal.

The symptoms most commonly associated with asbestos related conditions are: a persistent cough, breathlessness, wheezing, chest pain and weight loss. These conditions are most commonly diagnosed on chest xrays, CT scans and with biopsies.

It is suggested that the time from exposure to development of asbestos related disease can be as little as 10 years.


Johnathan Steventon-Kiy, specialist industrial disease lawyer, says:

“Claims where a Claimant develops an asbestos related disease are very difficult cases to pursue. It is important that an experienced specialist asbestos disease solicitor assists the Claimant to ensure that the correct amount of compensation is received. The specialist solicitors in Biscoes Industrial Disease team have many years of experience pursuing these sorts of cases.”

Contact our specialist personal injury, medical negligence and industrial disease solicitors on 0800 413 463 or visit for more information. You can also follow us on twitter using the handle @biscoesmedneg



For further information or to speak to one of our experts, please get in touch

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.