Council in court for ignoring asbestos threat in school

DSCF0003-1024x764

Thurrock Council has been fined after admitting to failures in how it managed asbestos across its schools.

Basildon Crown Court heard today (1 March 2013) that despite being made aware of asbestos concerns in a boiler room at Stifford Clays Junior School, no action was taken.

A specialist contractor tasked with carrying out an asbestos survey by the council in 2004 said that dust and debris found in the boiler room containing asbestos fibres should be removed immediately under licensed conditions.

However, an HSE inspection in April 2010, as part of a national initiative to ensure that local authorities understand their duties in managing asbestos across their school estate, found that nothing had been done.

This was despite school staff and contractors alike regularly entering the boiler room in the intervening six year period.

HSE served a Prohibition Notice on 24 April 2010 barring entry to the boiler house until it was made safe.

Thurrock Council was also served with two Improvement Notices regarding the management of asbestos in its schools elsewhere in the county.

Thurrock Council, of Civic Offices, New Road, Grays, Essex, was fined a total of £35,000 and ordered to pay £15,326 in costs after pleading guilty to a Regulation 10 breach of the Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR 2006) and a breach of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 – both in relation to failings across the school estate.

The council also admitted a Regulation 11 breach of the Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR 2006) in relation to the specific incident at Stifford Clays Junior School.

After the hearing HSE inspector Samantha Thomson, said:

“This was a clear example of a local Authority failing to manage asbestos across its schools for a number of years.

“At Stifford Clays Junior School, the caretaker regularly worked in the boiler room with dust and debris over a period of six years. She will have been exposed to asbestos fibres and now faces an anxious wait to see if it results in any long-term health issues.

“This was easily preventable. Thurrock Council was informed of the potential for exposure in 2004, yet failed to act on the knowledge until HSE’s involvement some six years later.”
Notes to editors

The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk[1]
Regulation 5 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 states: “(1) Every employer shall make and give effect to such arrangements as are appropriate, having regard to the nature of his activities and the size of his undertaking, for the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of the preventive and protective measures. (2) Where the employer employs five or more employees, he shall record the arrangements referred to in paragraph (1).
Regulation 10 of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2006 states: “10 (1) Every employer must ensure that any employee employed by that employer is given adequate information, instruction and training where that employee is or is liable to be exposed to asbestos, or if that employee supervises such employees.”
Regulation 11(1) of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2006 states: “Every employer shall prevent the exposure of his employees to asbestos so far as is reasonably practicable.”

Press enquiries

Regional reporters should call the appropriate Regional News Network press office[2].

Issued on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive by the Regional News Network

Neil Munro

I work in a dual role at Acorn Analytical Services focused primarily on growing and leading the business from our Northampton office base. My focus is on overseeing all sales, marketing and financial activities from Northampton. I assist clients with high-level asbestos management strategies and training. Together with Ian Stone I host our weekly podcast – Asbestos Knowledge Empire and I'm Co-author of Asbestos The Dark Arts and Fear and Loathing of Health and Safety.

Need Help? Request a Call Back

Request a call back from one of our expert Asbestos Consultants who will help you identify what you need

More Asbestos Articles

Asbestos awareness: Education is key

Asbestos awareness: ‘Educating the public is key’

WHEN it comes to raising awareness of the dangers of asbestos, education and training are absolutely key. With so much advice out there, it can be difficult to know where to turn for information you can trust and training which is tailored to suit your individual needs. To mark national Day of Education, the team … Read more

Asbestos is a big problem on the high street

Asbestos on the high street continues to dominate the headlines

The headlines have once again been dominated this week by stories of high street premises which have been affected by asbestos. In November, Acorn Analytical Services shone a spotlight on the growing epidemic in towns and cities across the UK and urged companies and shop owners to put the safety of their staff and customers … Read more

Reducing asbestos in schools should be a clear priority

‘Reducing asbestos in schools should be our first priority’

FOR many years the team at Acorn Analytical Services has been calling for full asbestos risk assessments to be carried out in schools right across the UK. With many schools having been built during the post-war period when the use of asbestos was at its highest, we fear that many school buildings still contain the … Read more

Asbestos: Rates of mesothelioma continue to soar in women

Asbestos: Number of women affected by mesothelioma continues to soar

MORE women than ever are being affected by exposure to asbestos according to statistics published by Cancer Research UK. Between 2016 and 2018 rates of mesothelioma – the cancer caused by exposure to asbestos fibres -soared by 93% in women. Among those affected is 78-year-old Susan Ellis who recently shared her story with the Daily … Read more

Dan Crask and David Kelsey represent asbestos management consultancy, Acorn, at the NBCAs

Acorn Analytical Services – leading the way in the fight against asbestos epidemic

IT has been a busy year for the team at Acorn Analytical Services as we continue to work with new clients, grow our team and cement our place as one of the leading asbestos management companies in the UK. As we approach the end of the year, we thought we would take a moment to … Read more

Education is key to understanding asbestos

Understanding asbestos: Why educating your team is key

THE devastating effects of asbestos have been highlighted this week after a pensioner from Northamptonshire won compensation from a former employer after developing an asbestos-related illness. Patrick Collier, a former painter and decorator, received compensation in the Royal Courts of Justice after developing pleural thickening. His illness meant that he had to give up work … Read more

Remembering those who have died from asbestos exposure at work

One death from exposure to asbestos is one too many – it’s time for change

EACH year on December 12, the team at Acorn Analytical Services takes a moment to remember the lives lost in workplaces up and down the UK, either through injury or exposure to asbestos. By pausing to remember those who have died from workplace accidents, or from diseases such as lung cancer or mesothelioma, National Workplace … Read more

The UK is sitting on an asbestos timebomb

Asbestos Knowledge Empire: ‘UK is sitting on an asbestos timebomb’

RAISING awareness of the hidden dangers of asbestos is a key part of the work we do at Acorn Analytical Services. After more than 20 years in the asbestos industry, and having met people who have been directly affected by mesothelioma – the cancer caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos – it is something I … Read more

England star Stuart Pearce has helped to raise awareness of mesothelioma

Mesothelioma: How an England footballer is bringing home the dangers of this hidden killer

THIS afternoon, England’s Three Lions made a winning start to their World Cup campaign beating Iran in their first match in Qatar. But one footballing legend fears he could be in danger of developing mesothelioma after starting his career as an electrician in the 1980s. While former England legend Stuart Pearce is now undoubtedly best … Read more

Viviana, one of the newest members of Acorn's team

Team talk: Meet Viviana one of the talented new recruits at Acorn Analytical Services

WITH the UK in the grip of an asbestos epidemic, recruiting talented, experienced staff to join the award-winning team of experts at Acorn Analytical Services has never been more important. Despite being banned in new buildings more than 20 years ago, asbestos remains a huge problem for many businesses and, as a result, demand for … Read more