Hospital trust in court for asbestos failures

Commercial Photography from Pete Barnes

A North East hospital trust has been fined after contractors were unwittingly exposed to asbestos fibres at Sunderland Eye Infirmary.

Sunderland Magistrates’ Court heard today that over the weekend of 24/25 March 2012, contractors at the infirmary on Queen Alexandra Road drilled through door surrounds on a ward to install cables.

The following day concerns regarding the work were raised by a member of Trust staff and it was confirmed that the door surrounds were made of asbestos insulating board.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust had an asbestos survey that clearly showed there was asbestos in the door surrounds but, despite several site meetings between the Trust and the contractors, no information on the location or condition of any asbestos was given to the contractors.

The court heard that asbestos insulating board does not pose a risk to health unless it is damaged or worked on, when asbestos fibres can be released. Drilling the board could cause fibres to be released into the air.

City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, Kayll Road, Sunderland was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay £4,582.40 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 4 (9)(c)(i) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Shuna Rank, said:

“This incident was entirely preventable and highlights the importance of having a robust asbestos management system in place. City Hospitals Sunderland had put considerable resources into identifying where asbestos was in the hospital buildings but failed to have efficient procedures in place to ensure the information was passed to the contractors.

“As a result workers drilled through the asbestos-containing material, potentially exposing themselves, hospital staff and members of the public to dangerous fibres.

“There need to be systems in place to ensure that all workers are aware of where asbestos is if their work is likely to bring them into contact with asbestos-containing materials.”

Asbestos is the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the UK. It is responsible for more than 4,500 deaths each year. Asbestos is still present in many buildings and any work likely to disturb the asbestos needs to be positively managed to prevent exposure.

For advice on working with asbestos visit www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos[1].
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[2]
Regulation 4 (9)(c)(i) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 states: “The measures to be specified in the plan for managing the risk shall include adequate measures for ensuring that information about the location and condition of any asbestos or any such substance is provided to every person liable to disturb it.

Press enquiries

Regional reporters should call the appropriate Regional News Network press office[3].

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

What does asbestos look like

Mesothelioma in younger people: not just an occupational disease

Mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases typically affect older people who were exposed to the substance at work, often decades before their symptoms appear. This occupational setting has certainly been to blame for the majority of cases, but instances of mesothelioma in younger people are also causing increasing concern. Secondary exposure to asbestos via a parent … Read more

asbestos materials in the workplace.

Monitoring asbestos materials in the workplace

Current health and safety practices mean that asbestos materials found in the workplace are left alone if they are intact, but arguments have been made for asbestos monitoring practices to be altered. Given that asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) naturally degrade over time, and many were installed thirty years ago or more, the risk of exposure to … Read more

Asbestos diseases

Asbestos diseases: the destructive results of asbestos exposure

Asbestos diseases don’t generally show themselves until several decades after the initial exposure, which is why we’ve seen a significant rise in the number of deaths from asbestos-related disease over the last 50 years. If you’re worried that your health may have been compromised by historic asbestos exposure, or you currently work with the substance … Read more

Abestos in Hospitals.

Asbestos in hospitals: a complex situation to manage

According to the BBC, 94% of hospitals in London alone contain asbestos.¹ The prolific use of asbestos in hospitals around the UK has created a complex issue for those tasked with managing it, but crucially, it’s a problem that threatens the health of hospital staff, patients, and visitors. Extensively used in hospital boiler rooms and … Read more

disposal dump garbage

Asbestos fly tipping and the threat to public health

The dumping of rubbish in our country lanes, towns, and cities, and specifically asbestos fly tipping, has become a serious health issue in the UK and holds particularly worrying ramifications for members of the public. In fact, figures from StatsWales show that 304 cases of asbestos fly tipping in Wales alone were recorded in 2016-17 … Read more

Asbestos Awareness Training Session image

How asbestos awareness training can help you at work

Asbestos has caused severe illness and high mortality rates around the world for many decades, partly due to a lack of asbestos awareness among workers and their employers. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics show in 2016 alone, 2,595 victims died from mesothelioma, an aggressive form of lung cancer attributed to asbestos exposure. The nature … Read more

Acorn Lower Service 23

Triumph in court for UK asbestos victims

A landmark ruling in the Court of Appeal may help asbestos victims obtain compensation. Graham Dring, acting on behalf of the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum, led a challenge against one of the world’s largest manufacturers and suppliers of asbestos products, Cape Intermediate Holdings. The Appeal Court ruling is a significant step towards establishing the … Read more

Careers 1

Secondary asbestos exposure and the fight for justice

The use of asbestos was so widespread between the 1930s and the 1980s that workers in many industries were at risk of suffering severe ill health. Secondary asbestos exposure was also a significant threat for their wives and families. With little in the way of protective equipment or clothing, asbestos fibres and dust were carried … Read more

Acorn School Site 49 Medium

Safely remove asbestos: Why you need licensed contractors

Asbestos is a known human carcinogen, and as such, presents a significant danger to anyone who comes into contact with it. This is why it’s essential to hire licensed contractors to safely remove asbestos in many instances. It prioritises health and safety, and is required by law for high-risk asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). If you’re a … Read more

asbestos fire

Asbestos in a fire – is it a serious risk to public health?

If asbestos fibre and dust are released into the air during a fire, it can cause serious health issues for anyone nearby. The presence of asbestos in a fire needs to be carefully managed to minimise the risk to firefighters and the public, as once airborne, the microscopic fibres are easily inhaled. The sharp and … Read more