School and construction company prosecuted for failing to remove asbestos safely…
Several people were exposed to asbestos fibres at a school in Dorset after asbestos insulation boards were removed in an unsafe manner from the school.
The HSE decided to prosecute the school and the company responsible for the asbestos removal after their investigation determined that both parties had failed to adequately deal with the threat posed by asbestos at the school and had not implemented the necessary asbestos awareness safety protocols.
Dorchester Crown Court heard that the insulation boards were not removed safely and the building contractors employed by the refurbishment company along with a teenage student who was on work experience were all exposed to asbestos fibres. They must now all be monitored on a frequent basis in the hope that they don’t develop the potentially life-threatening diseases associated with asbestos exposure.
The HSE investigation also found that from May 2008 through to June 2009 the work had not been planned appropriately nor had a full asbestos survey been carried out. This was in spite of the fact that warning signs had been noted in 2008 when a sample taken from the school building identified the presence of asbestos. Asbestos had also been previously removed from other parts of the school and an asbestos register was kept for identifying asbestos in school buildings.
The school was found guilty of breaching regulations for the control of asbestos as well as construction regulations and was fined a total of £60,000 in addition to costs of £13,000. The director of the construction company was also found guilty of breaching health and safety and construction regulations and was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,000.
HSE Inspector Joanna Teasdale commented after the hearing:
“They knew about the risks posed by the presence of asbestos in the school buildings, and yet they failed to manage the risk of exposure to asbestos fibres during the refurbishment project.
“As a result several people, including at least one teenager, were put at unnecessary risk. In being exposed to asbestos fibres they could develop a serious and potentially fatal illness.
“Although the school was the client, it still had a duty to manage the control of asbestos on its site, and to be aware of the requirements of removing asbestos safely.
“This incident and the risk to those involved could have been easily avoided if competent people had been engaged during the planning of the refurbishment project to advise the school, such as a CDM coordinator.”
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