The school decided to convert an old boiler room into a cleaning store. During the course of this work, asbestos residue on the walls was disturbed and caretakers swept contaminated debris from floors. Their exposure to risk only came to light after a later asbestos survey was completed in the area.

A subsequent investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered that asbestos containing materials (ACM’s) were also present in other areas. This means that school caretaking staff and contractors who may have disturbed the fabric of school buildings over many years would not have been alerted to the presences, this in itself may have a lasting legacy. The Boswells Academy Trust, of Burnham Road, Chelmsford, Essex, pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 – Sections 2(1) & 3(1).  The trust was fined £26,000 and ordered to pay costs of £20,000.

Glyn Davies, the HSE inspector involved in the case said that the school should have taken steps to identify and manage the risk from asbestos containing materials, taken precautions to avoid disturbance and also taken steps to ensure that the information was shared with staff, contractors and others who may need to be made aware. Additionally, he stated that, “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.”

You can read more about the story here, in our workplace compliance news article.

 
Steve Mills