Liverpool NHS Trust has been fined £10,000 after potentially deadly Asbestos materials were found in its offices on London Road, Liverpool in January 2013.
A basement used for storing patient records contained an old out of use lift that became damaged which exposed the asbestos inside the doors. This meant that any member of staff needing to access patient records could have come in contact with harmful Asbestos fibres.
A survey carried out in 2006 identified that an area of the basement may contain Asbestos fibres but the NHS Trust failed to act on the recommendation that the condition should be properly assessed.
The Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £696 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Around 4,000 people die each year in the UK due to Exposure to Asbestos fibres which makes it the biggest single cause of work related deaths. Asbestos was used for many years in roofing panels, floor tile, boiler seals, insulation board, pipe insulation and brake linings in cars amongst many other things. It was thought to be a “wonder” material due to its great range of physical properties. Asbestos has high sound absorption, average tensile strength and is resistance to fire, heat electrical and chemical damage – as well as being incredibly affordable.
Unfortunately the serious side effects weren’t fully discovered until the beginning of the 1900s. Inhalation of Asbestos fibres causes serious and illnesses including lung cancer, asbestosis and fatal Mesothelioma. Cases of these illnesses rose dramatically and by the 1980s and 1990s Asbestos trade and use started to become banned outright, phased out, or heavily restricted in an increasing number of countries. In the UK the use of Asbestos was banned in 1985.
The 2012 Control of Asbestos Regulations states that if existing Asbestos containing materials are in good condition and are not likely to be damaged, they may be left in place; their condition monitored and managed to ensure they are not disturbed. But if Asbestos is present its condition must be managed and anyone likely to come into contact with the material must be protected. Liverpool NHS Trust failed to protect its staff from coming into contact with Asbestos but not maintaining the lift doors or removing them altogether when the issue first arose.
A specialist Asbestos Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Liverpool said,
“It is very disappointing and concerning that an employer such as a hospital trust should fail to take sufficient precautions to protect their staff and other visitors. Given that the trust was well aware of the presence of Asbestos yet failed to act on recommendations made in an Asbestos survey there can be no excuse for their failings.”
If you or a family member has been affected by exposure to Asbestos materials please call Slater and Gordon Lawyers for a free consultation. Call us at any time 24/7 on freephone 0800 884 0275 or contact us online and we will call you.
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