Liverpool Magistrates’ Court has fined a Liverpool NHS Trust £10,000 after hearing that a 2006 survey revealed a possibility that asbestos material may be present in the basement of one of its properties. Despite a recommendation to further assess the situation, the trust failed to do so.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation highlighted that patient records were kept in the basement and employees regularly accessed the area to collect and return the records.
A visit in 2013 by a NHS health and safety officer found that asbestos was present in the doors of an unused goods lift. Further investigation revealed that asbestos was present in other areas of the basement. Thus, those workers visiting the area were exposed to the potentially fatal material.
After pleading guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the NHS Trust was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £696 in costs.
After the case was heard, Imran Siddiqui of the HSE said:
“Around 4,000 people die every year as a result of breathing in asbestos fibres, making it the biggest single cause of work-related deaths in the UK.”
“It’s therefore vital that organisations take the risks from asbestos seriously. The Trust, in line with the 2006 survey, should have assumed asbestos was present in an area of the basement and taken appropriate action to make it safe for people working there.”
“Instead, workers were allowed to regularly visit the basement to access patient files increasing the risk of exposure to the potentially-deadly fibres.”
“Asbestos was extensively used as a building material in the 50s, 60s and 70s but it becomes dangerous if it is broken up and fibres are released. Airborne fibres can become lodged in the lungs or digestive tract and can lead to lung cancer or other diseases, but symptoms may not appear for several decades.”
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