Number of employees and contractors potentially exposed to harmful fibres…
A health board in Scotland has been prosecuted after several employees and contractors were discovered to have been at risk of being exposed to dangerous asbestos fibres.
Glasgow Sheriff Court was told that the health board had failed in their legal duty to deal with the risk of asbestos contamination in a basement room in he Royal Hospital for Sick Children (Yorkhill Hospital) in Glasgow.
The court was informed that a survey that had been undertaken in February 2009 had already identified the asbestos containing materials (ACMs) in the room, and had stressed the importance of labelling the ACMs and monitoring their condition in case of further detioriation.
A further survey carried out in 2011 discovered that the ACMs had indeed detioriated and were capable of posing a significant health risk so it was recommended that they be removed.
The investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered that the health board had not reacted to the information presented in the surveys, and no labelling of the dangerous asbestos materials had occurred, nor had the condition of the ACMs been checked.
In the periond since the surveys had been completed, various employees of the health board, in addition to external contractors had had the opportunity to access the basement room, and could have been expoxed to the potentially fatal long-term effects of the asbestos material.
The health board pleaded guilty to a breach of Regulation 4(10) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and was fined £6,000.
In the aftermath of the sentencing, HSE Inspector Eve Macready commented:
“The dangers posed by the presence of asbestos are clear. There is no known ‘safe limit’ and it is often many years after exposure before asbestos-related diseases appear – so it is important that exposure to asbestos fibres is kept to an absolute minimum.
“The Health Board failed in its duty to properly manage the risks of asbestos in its premises and as a result a number of employees and external contractors have potentially been exposed to harmful fibres.”
Author: Julian Roberts
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