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

Licences blog pic sml

How do you get the right asbestos contractor?

It is so important that you get competent asbestos contractors to carry out asbestos removal works. Asbestos Contractors fall into two categories: non-licensed and licensed. Licensed contractors receive a licence from the HSE to work with licensable asbestos materials. You need a licence if you are going to work on the higher risk materials such …

Read MoreHow do you get the right asbestos contractor?

Acorn School Site 47 e1601897304536

Asbestos Reinspections

In this blog we will look at asbestos reinspections and how they differ from a survey. Usually, reinspections follow on from some sort of survey – you should have an existing asbestos register from a management survey or a refurbishment survey. Your existing asbestos information – outlining where the asbestos is and what condition it …

Read MoreAsbestos Reinspections

work 731198 1920

What you need to know about asbestos databases

Asbestos databases are sometimes called portals and are an electronic place where your asbestos information and Health & Safety information is held and stored on an online system. Lots of things are going into the Cloud and that is why we have moved in that direction. In the past, Asbestos survey reports were on paper …

Read MoreWhat you need to know about asbestos databases

Blog 4 - house Acorn Jan 2020 Low Res-96

Common asbestos materials in domestic properties

When people think about asbestos, they often associate it with larger buildings such as warehouses, schools, hospitals and factories. Often, people do not think about asbestos when it comes to homes, but asbestos was heavily used in parts of the domestic market and used on large scales within local authority homes. In this blog, we …

Read MoreCommon asbestos materials in domestic properties

hot conditions

Working with asbestos in hot conditions

You don’t normally think of the combination of asbestos and heat as a concern. Asbestos is resistant to heat – that is one of the reasons it was used in building projects. However, in this blog, we are not talking about the use of asbestos, we are talking about asbestos removal projects and how heat …

Read MoreWorking with asbestos in hot conditions

listed building

Asbestos and Listed Buildings

Buildings of historic importance, that were constructed centuries ago, were not built with asbestos. Whether you’re talking about castles or smaller old listed properties they were built before we started using asbestos in construction. What we will consider in this blog is what may have happened to those buildings after their original construction. In short, …

Read MoreAsbestos and Listed Buildings

Asbestos disposal

Asbestos disposal – New and exciting methods

In this blog, we are talking about some exciting developments with regards to the disposal of asbestos. We recently went to a conference in Birmingham which was attended by lots of people from our industry. Delegates shared new techniques, best practice and innovations and there were a lot of interesting seminars. One of the seminars, …

Read MoreAsbestos disposal – New and exciting methods

Label asbestos

Do you need to label asbestos?

As an experienced multi-disciplined asbestos consultancy we are regularly asked by clients if they need to label their asbestos. There is a misconception that asbestos has to be labelled but this is not the case. You don’t actually have to label asbestos but you do have to manage it. In my mind, it is good …

Read MoreDo you need to label asbestos?

PVA asbestos

PVA as an encapsulant

In this blog we are talking about PVA as an encapsulant of asbestos. PVA stands for Polyvinyl Acetate and is a glue-like substance, best known as a wood glue, white glue or school glue. It is a safe glue and doesn’t burn your skin. It is easily washable and is water based. It used to …

Read MorePVA as an encapsulant

Non licensed contractor

What you need to know about non-licensed asbestos contractors?

We recently had a query from one of our clients that we wanted to share with you in this blog. They are a contractor working in the commercial and retail sectors and occasionally they have to remove bolts from floors which may contain asbestos. Their query was about wearing the correct PPE (personal protective equipment) and RPE (respiratory protective equipment) to carry out the work safely. …

Read MoreWhat you need to know about non-licensed asbestos contractors?