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

Asbestos in soil image

Brownfield sites and the danger of asbestos in soil

Our rich industrial past, and the subsequent redevelopment of land on which factories, mills and warehouses once stood, has led to a significant health and safety issue in the form of asbestos in soil. Derelict and disused areas of land, known as ‘brownfield’ sites, are being used to address the UK’s housing crisis, but with … Read more

IOSHLogo

High risk of asbestos exposure for UK construction workers

According to a survey by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), “Nearly one in four UK construction workers believe they may have been exposed to asbestos fibres.” Asbestos has only been banned in the UK since 1999, and the high number of older buildings being demolished or renovated plus the nature of the … Read more

meso uk

First Ever Asbestos Nurse Appointed

The UK’s first asbestos nurse has been appointed in a hospital in Southampton. As a specialist, the nurse, Helen Wilkes will be focusing on caring for patients suffering from asbestos-related cancers, such as mesothelioma, but also looking to raise awareness of the disease, providing a vital link between charity groups, and patients. Trained at the … Read more

Property Manager

What a Property Manager Needs To Know About Asbestos

The very word ‘asbestos’ tends to strike fear into a property manager.  Whether you manage a large portfolio of commercial properties, hold leasehold responsibilities for domestic dwellings with communal areas or assist landlords who own HMO’s, as a property manager, it is imperative that you understand both your duties to manage asbestos, and situations in … Read more

Asbestos Consultancy 2

What Do Asbestos Consultancies Do?

Asbestos Consultancies – Why Are They Needed? Most of us are aware that asbestos is a dangerous substance. Asbestos attributes to thousands of deaths each year and causes serious lung diseases. However, what perhaps may surprise many is that asbestos is likely to be found in all commercial buildings which were built prior to 2000 … Read more

asbestos testing image

Claire’s kids’ makeup found to be asbestos-free

The global retailer Claire’s Stores Inc says tests have shown its children’s makeup to be asbestos-free after it was forced to remove nine products from shelves when a news report claimed that tremolite asbestos had been found in them. Read the full article on CNN here.   Returns to be honoured Tremolite asbestos, as with … Read more

asbestos testing image

New asbestos related illness centre for Mesothelioma UK opens in Leicester

The national cancer charity Mesothelioma UK has opened new dedicated offices at The Sidings, Birstall, Leicester. The opening was conducted by Lady Gretton, the Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire. The charity was previously based at Glenfield Hospital and is a specialist resource centre for mesothelioma, which is heavily associated with asbestos. Lady Gretton said she was … Read more

mesothelioma image

What is mesothelioma (asbestos cancer), and how does it differ to other cancers?

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer commonly associated with exposure to asbestos. It typically starts in the layers of tissue that cover the lungs (pleural mesothelioma), although it occasionally begins in the tissue in the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma) surrounding the digestive system organs and in the lining of the heart (pericardial mesothelioma). Diagnosis of asbestos … Read more

asbestos through a scope

Asbestos exposure can have an effect in just 2 days

A man has died from asbestos-related disease decades after being exposed to the material for just two days. Michael Davies had helped to dismantle roofing containing the substance in 1978. Mr Davies, who was 60 and lived in Pattingham in South Staffordshire, died on 18th September from mesothelioma – a rare and aggressive cancer that … Read more

Asbestos surveyor during a refurbishment survey

Are high rises at risk of asbestos?

Asbestos has been identified in a flat in Stockbridge Village, raising concerns that hundreds of other tenants could be exposed to this harmful material. Asbestos materials were found in Mark Syme’s home on the 15th floor of the Denecliff tower block, many months after he had campaigned for the property to be inspected for the … Read more