The owner of the Burton upon Trent brewery and the site manager have been prosecuted for a series of safety failings unearthed during an HSE investigation.
Workers living in the building had been exposed to asbestos and one had contracted Legionnaire’s disease.
Burton upon Trent magistrates heard HSE received a complaint in January 2010 from a member of the public that asbestos-containing material had been removed from within the building and walled up in the basement.
Inspectors identified a significant area of the building as being contaminated and a licensed asbestos removal contractor later dealt with 27 tonnes of the dangerous materials.
HSE issued a Prohibition Notice halting all work against building owner and main contractor Optima (Cambridge) Ltd on 29 January 2010.
The court was told that on 5 November 2010, HSE was informed a workman had been diagnosed with Legionnaire’s disease and that workers had been using the building as overnight accommodation.
A site visit with Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service discovered no fire safety risk assessment had been carried out, inadequate fire alarm and detection systems, obstructed escape routes, inadequate signage of emergency routes, no emergency lighting and insufficient evacuation procedures.
Three prohibition notices were served against Optima (Cambridge) Limited and two against site manager Dominik Jaslowski preventing further use of the building as overnight accommodation and any further construction work.
A further notice was also served against the company preventing further use of the hot water system and showers.
HSE’s inspection also discovered that four large holes had been cut into the first and second floors. The voids on the first floor were not adequately protected to prevent a fall of several metres to the ground below.
Optima (Cambridge) Ltd, of Southwark, London, pleaded guilty to safety breaches and was fined a total of £63,000 and ordered to pay costs of £16,000.
Dominik Jaslowski, 32, of Newham, London,pleaded guilty to breaching two safety counts. He was given a three month prison sentence for each offence, to run concurrently, suspended for 12 months.
He was also ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid community work and pay costs of £3,500.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector David Brassington said: “Our investigations uncovered a whole catalogue of serious errors and safety failings.
“This was a shocking case of failing to plan, manage and resource this refurbishment project which led to workers being exposed to a range of significant health and safety risks.
“As site manager Mr Jaslowski should have planned, managed and monitored the construction work. He should not have left workers at risk the way he did.
“Buildings undergoing refurbishment should not be used for overnight accommodation. Dutyholders should assess the risk of legionella from hot and cold water systems within buildings undergoing refurbishment and ensure these risks are managed.”