HEAD OFFICE

Hall Wood Business Park
North Dane Way
Chatham Kent ME5 8YE

t: 01634 864550

Council exposes contractors to asbestos

Waltham Forest borough council has been fined £66,000 after it exposed members of staff and visiting contractors to the potentially lethal dangers of asbestos, which it knew to be present in the Town Hall basement.

Asbestos was identified in a survey commissioned by the council in 2002, yet it failed to take adequate action to act on the findings and put effective controls in place.

As a result employees and visiting contractors were allowed to carry on working in the basement regardless of the dangers for the next ten years.

Westminster Magistrates heard that the issue only became public by chance in mid-2012 when a local resident put in a request to the council to see some election expenses documentation.

The authority denied the request with the reason that the paperwork was contaminated with asbestos.

As a result, the resident approached the Health and Safety Executive's 'Mythbuster Challenge Panel', which in turn referred the concern to HSE inspectors in north east London to investigate further.

The court heard that Waltham Forest had no plan in place for managing the well-known risks of asbestos and there was an inadequate system in place for inspecting asbestos at the Town Hall.

Waltham Forest Borough Council was fined a total of £66,000 and ordered to pay £16,862 in costs after pleading guilty to safety breaches.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Chris Tilley said: "Waltham Forest was aware of the asbestos in the basement as far back as 1984. It was also aware of the risks from asbestos exposure and of its duty to manage those risks.

"Asbestos-related disease has a long latency and it is impossible to ascertain what injury may have been caused in this case.

"But asbestos is a known and powerful carcinogen and owners or managers of non-domestic premises, such as councils, have a legal duty to manage the material in their buildings and have measures and controls in place to protect workers and the public from being exposed."

For the full story click here

Back to news