It has been reported last week that the reopening of the Tyne Pedestrian and Cyclist Tunnels has been delayed due to the previously unknown presence of asbestos. Due to re-open in August 2014 the tunnels are now due to open in February 2015. There was previously thought work around could take place around this but following the fear from contractors that this could be disturbed special contractors have been brought in.
The failure to previously identify asbestos in the workplace is of concern for not only the workers within the vicinity of the asbestos but the public in general.
A local Newcastle Lawyer from Slater and Gordon’s Chest & Asbestos Disease Group, reiterates these concerns.
“The presence of asbestos in any work environment should be paramount concern for those who are tasked to manage it. Most workplaces should have an asbestos audit or assessment and as a result a register should be made available whenever works are undertaken to refurbish the area. This is even more important when we are talking about public spaces. It is essential that the asbestos is properly identified, managed and where necessary removed as soon as practicable to reduce any potential exposure.
Paul Fenwick, project director for the tunnels' owners, the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority, said: "We were aware of the existence of asbestos and were originally advised that it would be possible to work around it.
"However, our main contractor was concerned that the works themselves and the need to manoeuvre equipment and materials in such a confined space could damage the ceiling and disturb the asbestos.
Anyone exposed to asbestos should register this potential exposure as soon as possible. Slater and Gordon maintain a National Asbestos Register and you should contact Dominic Smith on 0161 383 3527 to register your name.”