Westminster Magistrates’ Court has fined a London borough council a total of £66,000 and ordered to pay £16,862 in costs after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and a breach of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.
An investigation held by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that a survey performed in 2002 reported the presence of asbestos material in the basement of a town hall.
Despite this, the borough council failed to act. No safety measures or controls were carried out. The HSE told the court that the council had knowingly exposed visitors and employees to the potentially fatal material over a period of ten years, especially print room staff that were based there.
Additionally, it was highlighted that the council had an asbestos issue in the boiler room after a further survey was completed in 2012. The survey reiterated the asbestos problem in the basement but no solution was sought.
The HSE served an immediate improvement notice requiring a detailed management plan for dealing with asbestos.
After the case was heard, HSE Inspector Chris Tilley said:
“Asbestos-related disease has a long latency and it is impossible to ascertain what injury may have been caused in this case. But asbestos is a known and powerful carcinogen and owners or managers of non-domestic premises, such as councils, have a legal duty to manage the material in their buildings and have measures and controls in place to protect workers and the public from being exposed.”
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