WORKERS were exposed to asbestos as they refurbished an office block in Poole, a court was told.

The 18 workers were put “at risk” as they worked at Sentinel House on the Nuffield Industrial Estate and the company they were working for has admitted three breaches of control of asbestos regulations.

Dale Collins, prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive, told Bournemouth Magistrates’ Court that employers MJC Decorating and Refurbishing Ltd were given the results of a survey indicating asbestos was present.

An asbestos specialist noticed “widespread” contamination where the staff were working and in July 2009 the site was closed, the court heard.

Mr Collins said one worker described how it had been “difficult to breathe” and they had not been wearing suitable safety masks.

James Ageros, in mitigation, said the company owners, the couple Witold and Agnieszka Gamski, had not health and safety breaches in the history of the firm, based at North Cheam in Sutton, Surrey.

Mr Ageros said having to pay the fine would affect the company but Mr Collins responded that the company accounts show the ownership of a £200,000 car “for no other reason than its prestigious.”

The three charges related to breaches of the identification of asbestos, the prevention or reduction of exposure to asbestos and the duty to prevent or reduce the spread of asbestos.

District Judge Roger House ordered the case to be sentenced at crown court.