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

Reg 1

Call For Softer Asbestos Laws – What Impact Will it Have on Safety?

When designing laws that will protect everyone on a daily basis, people welcome strict and rigid enforcement, if it ensures that they and their families can go about their lives in a safe environment. However, when someone tries to campaign to make the laws on something less harsh, it can be understandably concerning. And that … Read more

Asbestos in school image

Asbestos in Schools – It Has To Go

When you send your child to school, their safety is one of the things that you entrust to the people who work there, having faith that they are charged by the government to help your children stay safe. However, there is something, which some schools would rather hide, and that is the growth of asbestos … Read more

Asbestos surveyor during a refurbishment survey

Asbestos Removal Tax Relief- Does it Qualify?

Asbestos Removal Tax Relief – Does It Qualify? When it comes to removing materials, which contain asbestos from a property, the expenses which can occur as a result of the asbestos removal can be extremely worrying for a company. However, what most people do not realise is that they can actually get some of that … Read more

asbestos in fire

Asbestos and Fire – What Are The Risks?

Asbestos is something which is a major health risk and can cause serious damage to the lungs and the respiratory system following exposure. However, asbestos and fire can make the material pose be a greater risk when damaged in this way. In order to try and help with this, we’re taking a look at some … Read more

Acorn Lower Service 32

What should the recent death of a lady with asbestos-linked cancer teach us about asbestos?

Last year, a Northampton woman died after a short battle with cancer that could have been caused by asbestos. It was an out-of-the-blue illness that was sudden – but could it have been due to asbestos exposure at home or workplace? Asbestos has serious risks Forget what you think you know about asbestos. It’s a … Read more

An asbestos refurbishment survey in action in Northampton

The importance of an asbestos refurbishment survey

Asbestos has been dubbed as a “silent killer” for years now, although it’s an unfortunate fact that it kills more people every year – through asbestos fibres being inhaled – than people who are in road traffic accidents. It has been banned in Britain since 1999, which means any house built or refurbished prior to … Read more

IMG 0527 Small

Asbestos Causing Delays

Asbestos causing delays once again. The A21 is a busy road linking Hastings, Tunbridge Wells and south east London. Works are currently being carried out on a 2.5 mile stretch to widen the road and improve routes to the coast. Bottlenecks were a regular occurrence close to Pembury and campaigners worked for years to get … Read more

What does asbestos look like

BBC Breakfast Interview Mesothelioma Patient, Trevor Barlow

On the morning of the 20th November 2015, BBC Breakfast News published the story of Trevor Barlow a 71 year old gentleman who had been diagnosed with terminal illness due to exposure to asbestos. The interview has encouraged others to consider the effects of exposure to asbestos and highlights the current government plans to assist … Read more

Acorn Analytical Services Asbestos Solutions commecial photography 150x150 1

Asbestos Priority Risk Assessment

Recognising the potential dangers of asbestos, leads owners to responsibly address any potential concerns about the building products used in the construction of their properties. Regulation 4 Duty to manage asbestos in non-domestic premises (CAR2012) requires dutyholders to ensure that “the risk of anyone being exposed to these materials is assessed”. This type of risk assessment is … Read more

Asbestos Sample Testing 1

Unusual Uses of Asbestos

Although widely acknowledged as a hazardous building material, there has been a multitude of unusual uses of asbestos throughout its history. Some may have practical foundations, whereas others seem more sublime. This article explores the variety of uses of asbestos throughout the centuries. Beauty Asbestos has previously been used in several health and beauty products … Read more