12 March 2014
Housing Trust Fined for Exposing Staff & Residents to Asbestos
Anchor Trust, Alnwick, Express Elevators Ltd and PC Lifts were fined for exposing staff and residents to hazardous asbestos material.
The Trust which provides housing and care for the elderly contracted Express Elevators to replace the lift at St Paul’s Court sheltered housing scheme in November 2012 and PC Lifts subcontracted to remove an existing lift.
The lift shaft contained asbestos boards and no precautions, warnings or protective equipment were used in the removal of the boards which meant that asbestos fibres were airborne into the local vicinity where its most vulnerable clients and the staff that care for them would have been exposed to it.
The Trust failed to ensure that the site was secure despite Bedlington Magistrates’ Court being informed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that an asbestos survey was provided - as the survey was not sufficient or accurate for the work being carried out. As a result Anchor Trust was fined £10,000, Express Elevators fined £8,000 and PC Lifts fined £4,000. Speaking after the case HSE Inspector Natalie Wright said “Asbestos is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK and those involved in the construction and refurbishment industry have a clear duty to ensure that work is managed so as to prevent the spread of asbestos.”
Slater and Gordon Chest & Asbestos Disease Group Solicitor reiterates the 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 or when we are talking about some of the most vulnerable in our community who access such services. It is essential that the asbestos is properly identified, managed and where necessary removed as soon as practicable to reduce any potential exposure.
Anyone exposed to asbestos should register this potential exposure as soon as possible. Slater and Gordon maintain a National Asbestos Register and we advise you to contact Dominic Smith on 0161 383 3527 to register any asbestos exposure.”