The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned employers to ensure they manage asbestos properly in their buildings after a south London NHS Trust was fined £5,000.
St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust in Tooting, was fined and ordered to pay costs of £6,432 after it pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002.
An HSE investigation found that the trust did not have an effective system to manage asbestos materials at a hospital residential block, nor did it control the risk of exposure to asbestos fibre in the building, despite being repeatedly made aware of its presence over a number of years.
Materials containing asbestos were present in the building and regularly damaged by workmen and cleaned up or repaired by trust employees.
Asbestos is the single biggest cause of work-related deaths in the UK. Inhalation of airborne asbestos fibres can lead to deadly diseases such as lung cancer and mesothelioma (a cancer of the lining of the lung).
Hazel McCallum, HSE inspector, said: “It is disappointing when large organisations such as the trust put people at risk by not taking a responsible approach. The risks associated with exposure to airborne asbestos fibres are well known and the measures required to control it are easily achievable.”
Seperately, a timber manufacturer has been fined £4,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,921 after a machine operator lost parts of two fingers.
Jennor Timber, based in Enfield, north London was fined after pleading guilty of breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.