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Chelmsford school ordered to pay 46k for disturbing asbestos

Having decided to convert an old boiler room into a cleaning store at a school in Chelmsford, Essex, asbestos residue on the walls was disturbed. Subsequently, caretakers at the school swept the contaminated debris from the floor. This exposure risk was only revealed following an asbestos survey of the building.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard that the HSE then investigated and found that asbestos containing materials (ACMs) were also present in other areas. These ACMs in the fabric of the school buildings had been disturbed by caretakers and contractors over many years.

The school pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 – Sections 2(1) & 3(1).  It was fined £26,000 and ordered to pay costs of £20,000.

Following the hearing, HSE inspector Glyn Davies stated that: “The school should have controlled this potentially lethal risk by identifying the type, location and condition of any asbestos-containing-materials within the fabric of the school, and by implementing suitable precautions to prevent its disturbance. It should then have ensured that such information was shared with anyone liable to disturb this fabric. It may also have arranged for a licensed asbestos contractor to remove any dangerous asbestos safely before commencement of any work.

“This prosecution should act as a reminder, not just to schools but to all persons in control of the repair and maintenance of non-domestic premises, of the need to ensure that a suitable and sufficient assessment of risk from asbestos is carried out, and that correct control measures are put in place to ensure that exposure to asbestos is prevented, so far as is reasonably practicable.”

Any building that was built before 2000 has a high chance of containing asbestos. It can be found in all sorts of areas of your building and even in the soil (due to discarding of waste with asbestos). Asbestos materials in good condition can be safe but there are a number of regulations and stipulations to protect people from the dangers.

AEC is UKAS accredited for analysis and inspection of asbestos and offers: Surveying and re-inspections, sample analysis, air monitoring, project management, asbestos information management and expert witness services. To find out more, call 0161 872 7111.

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