• Robert Spicer

Asbestos exposure in Newmarket school

Asbestos exposure: £22,400 fine

Health and Safety Executive v Labform Ltd (2015) Ipswich magistrates’ court, May 12

Labform Ltd, a specialist laboratory design and installation company, has been fined following the exposure to asbestos of workers, pupils and teachers.

Significant points of the case

• In July 2012 Labform was managing the refurbishment of parts of a science block at Newmarket College School. Sub contractors disturbed asbestos as they were removing a wall and channelling the floor.

• The company had not arranged for a detailed refurbishment and demolition asbestos survey to be undertaken.

The company was fined £22,400 plus £11.700 costs for four breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

An HSE inspector is reported to have commented after the case that exposure to asbestos was a serious and well-known health risk, so it was essential that duty-holders took suitable and sufficient measures to prevent the disturbance, spread and exposure to asbestos. Failing to take action to identify asbestos while planning work, and to ensure that any contractors who may disturb asbestos are aware of the location and type of asbestos present, and not taking appropriate measures to protect the health of others, is totally inexcusable.

Approximately 4500 people die each year as a result of breathing in asbestos fibres. This makes it the biggest single cause of work-related deaths in the UK. Airborne fibres can become lodged in the lungs and digestive tract and can lead to lung cancer or other diseases. Symptoms may not appear for several decades.

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