A TAKEAWAY has been hit with a £20,000 punishment for putting its sleeping employees at risk of death or serious injury from fire.

Fire officers forced Naz Spice in Heworth to close immediately on safety grounds when they discovered people sleeping in a back room, said Karen Galloway, prosecuting.

The property in Saxon Place, Heworth, had no fire alarms and no fire detectors, lacked fire doors, the escape routes were obstructed and its walls not lined with fire resistant materials and the firm had not trained employees on what to do if fire broke out.

Naz Spice admitted fire breaches of fire safety regulations.

York magistrates said: “Each (breach) placed employees at risk of death or serious injury in the case of a fire. It is clear to us no thought had been given on any level to the safety of employees.”

They fined the business £18,000 and ordered it to pay £1,901 costs to North Yorkshire Fire Authority, which brought the prosecution, and a £170 statutory surcharge.

Kevin Blount, for the business, said the sleepers were employees resting between shifts and were not sleeping there overnight.

Ms Galloway said fire officers discovered the fire safety problems on a routine visit at 3.30pm on October 19, 2017.

One of the sleepers said he had been sleeping there the previous night and would sleep there the next night.

Officers allowed the business to reopen a few days later after the takeaway’s director Jabedur Rahman removed the beds, but they found a bed back in the room when they revisited four weeks later.

The employer’s liability certificate displayed inside the takeaway was five years out of date. Mr Rahman produced an up-to-date one six days later.

Mr Blount said the staff had asked Mr Rahman to put the bed back, but told the court: “There are now no beds on the premises.

“No-one sleeps in the premises at all. He has made it clear (to the staff), that isn’t going to change.”

The court heard the company operated on very tight profits making £1,000 a year on a £2,000 weekly turnover.

Watch Manager Kevin Caulfield, of North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, urged small businesses to make sure they were complying with fire safety regulations and to work with firefighters.

He said: “Sadly there are still too many occasions, like this case, where businesses are unaware or ignoring what they should be doing.

“The responsible person had not given any real thought to what might happen to the people sleeping in the building if a fire had occurred."