Kent Council County (KCC) has been fined £200,000 after asbestos was disturbed in a primary school in Sittingbourne

Lansdowne Primary School, now the Stour Academy Trust, was under the control of Kent Country Council in 2013 when work was allowed to proceed which disturbed asbestos and resulted in exposure to a member of staff and possibly others.

Asbestos warning sign

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the school’s caretaker had disturbed an asbestos flue pipe and an asbestos rope gasket during the removal of an air steriliser in May 2013. HSE served a prohibition notice on the primary school.  The notice said: “You have failed to prevent the exposure of employees to asbestos so far as reasonably practicable, in particular the partial steriliser flue and sealant in the school kitchen.”

HSE also said that neither the caretaker nor the headteacher were trained in asbestos management or awareness.

Kent Country Council (KCC) pleaded guilty to breaching reg 10(1) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations, which covers the provision of adequate information, instruction and training to employees, and was ordered to pay the fine plus costs of £21,500 within one month.

During the sentencing hearing judge Heather Norton said the dangers of asbestos had been highlighted in reports from 2010 and 2012 as the housing around the flue pipe contained amosite and the flue itself comprised chrysotile, Kent Online reported.

She went on to question why the headteacher had ticked boxes stating that the caretaker had received asbestos training in 2012 and 2013 when he said that he hadn’t been given any. “The headteacher’s explanation as to why she did this, if it was not correct, is at the very least extremely vague,” judge Norton was reported as saying.

What should have happended?

The site asbestos management plan should have ensured there was a robust process in place to check the asbestos register before any work started. This should have triggered a process to bring in an asbestos contractor to deal with the asbestos properly before allowing any subsequent work to proceed safely.  The caretaker would have been trained properly so that they were aware of the policy and processes for working safely and the content of the existing register. At the end of the work the asbestos register would have been updated.

This case illustrates several things:-

  • How lack of control over a relatively simple job can result exposure to asbestos and have significant financial and legal consequences – if this school had already become an academy when the offence was committed, it would have been the school and the head teacher as the main duty holder, who would have been defending the prosecution and not as in this case KCC.
  • Training is not a ‘box ticking’ exercise – it should be properly delivered, recorded and must also include your own local procedures
  • A suitable asbestos management plan is a legal requirement and it is the responsibility of the Head Teacher to ensure that one is properly written and there is sufficient oversight to ensure that it is effectively implemented.

Envex/RSA have extensive experience in producing clear and comprehensive asbestos management plans and delivering bespoke asbestos training to all levels of staff from Headteachers/Governers/School Business Managers/Bursars as well as the site maintenance and caretaking teams.

ALS achieves ISO 14001 accreditation

ALS are proud to announce that we recently achieved ISO 14001 accreditation and today were awarded with our certificate. 14001 edited 2

This achievement is part of our ongoing efforts to make ALS a better company and reduce our impact on the environment to as low as reasonably practicable.

Well done to both Paul Bridger and Wayne Wiggins who worked hard on the certification project.

When do you need an Asbestos Refurbishment Survey?

Managing asbestos risk properly is a statutory requirement and an important tool in managing project delivery.  This post discusses when you need to programme in an ‘R&D asbestos survey’.

For any site or structure which falls under the ‘at-risk’ category for asbestos (constructed prior to 2000( you should already have completed an asbestos management survey or have good evidence to support an assessment of the structure being free from asbestos.  All duty holders need to be aware of statutory requirements for asbestos risk management and the consequences of failing to manage that risk effectively.

A management survey is designed to intrude far enough to allow safe normal occupancy and foreseeable maintenance activities to proceed (in accordance with an effective management plan). However, depending on the complexity of the structure, that level of survey will rarely provide enough detail to allow ‘major’ refurbishment activities to proceed and/or demolition.

The key question in deciding whether an intrusive asbestos survey is required is whether the planned scope of works will reveal part of the structure not yet inspected. This will include sealed voids, cavity walls, risers, live plant & equipment and encased structural elements (to name but a few). There may also have been areas that were not fully accessible for the original management survey.

A good desk top study of what information is available and where the gaps are – married up to a very detailed scope of works for the proposed project, will allow a decision to be reached on whether an R&D survey is required. This needs to be done early enough in the project to allow sufficient time for the survey to be planned and implemented. What that involves is for another day!

Contact one of our experienced Project Managers to run through your project –

Hospital trust fined for legionella control failings

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Fouals-envex-2asbestosndation Trust has been fined £50,000 for failing to control legionella.

The Trust, which runs the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, was sentenced on 11 June at Lewis Crown Court after a joint investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Sussex Police identified a history of failing to manage the deadly waterborne bug.

It follows the death of vulnerable cancer patient Joan Rayment, 78, from Rottingdean at the Royal Sussex on 9 November 2011 – eight days after a urine tested positive for the legionella bacteria antigen.

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Government must ‘tackle the scourge of asbestos in schools’ to prevent ‘unnecessary deaths’ of teachers and pupils, says teachers’ union

According to the Independent, NUT General Secretary, Christine Blower said the number of teachers dying of the disease is on the rise – with 22 recorded in 2012. …. She said: “Successive governments have failed to address the legacy of asbestos in schools, leading to unnecessary deaths of staff and former pupils. Children are more at risk than adults from exposure to asbestos fibres, due to the long latency period for mesothelioma. It is estimated that around 200 – 300 adults are dying every year as a consequence of exposure to asbestos when they were at school.”The review of asbestos in schools policy by the previous Government was a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done.  There is still no recognition that asbestos is a serious problem for schools. Shamefully, the Government’s most recent survey of school buildings deliberately excluded asbestos.”

BBC speaks to teachers dying of Mesothelioma

BBC News Channel Victoria Derbyshire speaks to teachers dying from mesothelioma having been in contact with asbestos in school. The video is available for 29 days from today. Teachers must be protected from the “scourge of asbestos” in UK schools, the National Union of Teachers has said. Two former teachers tell how they have been affected. “I think it was in the ceilings, and I presume it was in the walls,” said Jenny Darby, 71, a science teacher between 1969 and 1996. “So when the [ceiling] tiles came off, the asbestos would come down. I used to stick them back up almost every day.” She does not know where she was exposed to the asbestos that caused her mesothelioma – a rare form of cancer almost always caused by exposure to the substance – but thinks it might have been in one of her classrooms. Asbestos was also in her lab equipment.

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Construction workers exposed to asbestos

As reported by Construction Enquirer online a house builder has been fined £50,000 after exposing workers to potentially deadly asbestos fibres during the conversion of an office block into residential flats in Witham, Essex.

ALS-Envex for Asbestos management and monitoring

In July 2012, Marden Homes Ltd was commissioned to convert an office block into residential flats which involved removing a disused boiler and its pipes from the building’s former Plant Room.

During the refurbishment work, employees of Marden Homes Ltd disturbed pipe lagging which contained asbestos fibres.

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Teachers raise funds to remove asbestos….

PAY-Ash-Lea-special-school-mainAccording to the Mirror, teachers at a run-down school have launched a charity website to raise £1million after the Government refused funding to improve facilities.

Children at Ash Lea school in Cotgrave, Notts, are taught in asbestos-riddled classrooms which should have been demolished a decade ago.

The special school is still rated as “good” by education inspectors despite not having wheelchair access or toilets fit for purpose.

Teachers have complained there are also no cooking rooms, IT facilities or science labs for pupils.

The school hall does not have doors wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and some lessons are taught in the corridors.

Spending plans to upgrade the site were rejected after the Ministry of Education said the school is in a “reasonable state of repair”.

Staffs and parents have now launched a fundraising drive to save their school – which they say has been abandoned by the Government.

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Parents should be seeking to find out whether their children’s school contains asbestos now deaths from the disease are rising, teachers claim

Classroom-Desks-300x244Parents should be seeking to find out whether their children’s school contains asbestos now deaths from the disease are rising, teachers claim.

As reported on the Independent online figures show the number of UK teachers dying from mesothelioma has risen to 22 a year – the highest rate in the world.  This is up from just three in 1980.

In addition, expert advice given to the Commons select committee on education estimate up to 300 former pupils a year die of the disease through contact with asbestos at school.

This Monday delegates at the National Union of Teachers’ conference in Harrogate debated a motion expressing concern that the UK has the highest and still rising incidence of mesothelioma in the world.

Sarah Lyons, the union’s expert on asbestos, said a Freedom of Information request to local authorities had indicated 86 per cent of existing schools contained asbestos.  Those most likely to be affected would have been built post 1945 and before 1975 – but its use was only phased out in 1999.

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Compensation to teachers soars in 2014

According to the Chronicle Live, the NASUWT, Britain’s largest teaching union, is reporting that pay outs in 2014 soared to a new high following a surge in the number of injury and employment claims.

The largest personal injury claim reported was for £210,000 for a retired 70 year old female member from the East Midlands who was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2013. 

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