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

Mesothelioma day 2022

Mesothelioma Day: Shining a light on the work of Mesothelioma UK

TODAY, September 26, marks Mesothelioma Day in the US, an important day to raise awareness of the disease and of the dangers of asbestos worldwide. Even though asbestos was banned from new buildings in the UK more than 20 years ago, it is a problem we all still live with. Many buildings, including factories, schools … Read more

Behind the scenes of our laboratories

The science bit: Putting the important work of our laboratories under the microscope

AMONG the experts at Acorn Analytical Services is a dedicated team of laboratory analysts who work in our in-house laboratories in Northampton and Cleckheaton. Their work involves supporting our consultants, and our clients, by analysing samples of materials which are found on-site or sent to us to be investigated. Here we take a more detailed … Read more

Time to tackle asbestos in our schools

Taking action against asbestos – a hidden danger in our schools

AS children headed back into the classroom this week asbestos continues to be a problem in schools right across for the UK. Unbelievably, more than 80% of schools still contain the material, potentially putting children and teachers at risk of serious health problems in the years to come. As one of the country’s leading asbestos … Read more

Air testing is an important tool in the fight against asbestos

Air testing: Why nothing is more important than the air you breathe

AIR testing is an important way to protect yourself from the dangers of asbestos. Using state-of-the-art analytical equipment, Acorn Analytical Services can monitor the levels of asbestos fibres present in the air around you, making it even easier to make informed decisions when it comes to keeping yourself, and the people, around you safe. Here, … Read more

Asbestos training tutor, Daniel Crask

Asbestos training has never been more critical for your workforce

DESPITE being banned from new buildings in 1999, asbestos is still all around us which is why Acorn Analytical Services takes its commitment to education and asbestos training so seriously. By raising awareness of the potential dangers of asbestos through our UKATA-accredited asbestos awareness training courses, we aim to protect your workforce from the dangers … Read more

Cutting corners with asbestos could be costly

Tempted to save money with asbestos management? It could prove to be a costly mistake

WITH talk of a looming financial crisis everywhere at the moment you might be tempted to cut come corners in a bid to save yourself some money. But when it comes to managing asbestos, or anything to do with health and safety, not doing things by the book also comes at a price. Ian Stone, … Read more

Asbestos is common in many older buildings

It’s been banned for over 20 years, but we’re still living with asbestos

LOOK up at any old building in any town or city near you and it’s highly likely it will contain asbestos. First used more than 4,000 years ago, asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral used by early settlers in Finland to strengthen earthenware and cooking utensils. It came to Britain from Canada in the 1860s … Read more

Asbestos kills 20 tradespeople in the UK every day

Asbestos kills 20 tradespeople every day. Make sure you aren’t one of them

There is no room for complacency when it comes to handling asbestos as the latest figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show. Despite being banned in the use of new buildings since 1999, the building material, which was hugely popular in the 1950s and 1960s, is still a huge problem in older … Read more

Steve McQueen died from mesothelioma

Two cultural icons, one silent killer – mesothelioma

HOLLYWOOD actor and ‘King of Cool’ Steve McQueen and former manager of the Sex Pistols Malcolm McClaren – both global, cultural icons but, tragically, also victims of asbestos-related mesothelioma. Each year in the UK, 2,400 people – that’s six people every day – die from mesothelioma, a cancer which is caused by exposure to asbestos … Read more

Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma: How much do you really know about the disease which kills 2,400 people every year?

If you’ve heard of asbestos, chances are you’ve almost certainly heard of mesothelioma. But do you really know what it is and would you know how to protect yourself, your colleagues, and your loved ones from developing this silent killer in the future? What is mesothelioma? According to charity campaign ActionMeso which is run by … Read more