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NHS Workers Potentially Exposed to Asbestos

An NHS Trust has been fined after it was found likely to have exposed workers to potentially fatal asbestos material for more than a decade at its three hospitals in Hertfordshire.

The estates team, whose work is to carry out small repairs and maintenance projects where external contractors are not needed, were not made aware that asbestos was present and were not trained on how to identify and control exposure. They could have disturbed asbestos fibres in the course of a job, but would have had no way of knowing or of protecting themselves.

St Albans Crown Court was told that over the 11-year period, the Trust had identified some of the asbestos materials at their sites, but did not have a management or monitoring plan in place to control the risks associated with the deadly fibre.

It was only when additional surveys were carried out in December 2011 that the Trust realised more asbestos was present at all three hospitals than initially identified. Neither the newly identified asbestos nor the material that had originally been identified were being managed. The Trust alerted the Health and Safety Executive, which investigated and brought a prosecution for health and safety breaches against the Trust.

It was fined £55,000 and ordered to pay £34,078 in costs after pleading guilty to four breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and a single breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Around 4,500 people die every year as a result of breathing in asbestos fibres, making it the biggest single cause of work-related deaths in the UK. Airborne fibres can become lodged in the lungs and digestive tract, and can lead to lung cancer or other diseases, but symptoms may not appear for several decades.

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For advice on claims for asbestos related conditions, contact our solicitors today on 0141 333 6750 or click here to make an online enquiry.

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