Construction Health and Safety Consultancy and CDM Adviser Services

No Excuse for Exposure to Asbestos
Posted by David Cant on January 25, 2013

A hospital trust in the North East of England has been fined after contractors were exposed to asbestos. The Sunderland Eye Infirmary was having some work done to the premises that involved drilling through the surrounds of doors to the wards. The holes were to enable cabling to be installed. Unfortunately the door surrounds were made of asbestos.

It wasn’t until a member of the staff raised concerns over the material of the door surrounds that the alarm was raised. The Health and Safety Executive investigated and discovered that an asbestos survey did inform the Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust that there was asbestos in the surroundings of the door. The Trust had conducted several meetings with the contractors hired to do the work but they failed to give any information regarding the asbestos survey or presence of the deadly material to the contractors.

Drilling Released Fibres into the Air

The surroundings of the door contained asbestos insulating board. When this board isn’t disturbed it is perfectly safe, however, once the board is disturbed the fibres are released into the air and this becomes an immediate danger for anyone who is present unless they are wearing the correct protective gear.  Drilling disturbs the board and therefore the contractors were exposed to fibres and their health was put at risk.

Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations. They were fined at Sunderland Magistrates Court and must pay £3,000 plus £4,582.40 in costs.  Due to the work that took place on the surrounds of the doors the contractors, the health workers and the public could have been exposed to the fibres.

Convey the Results of Your Asbestos Survey to Contractors

The contractors should have been informed of the findings that were recorded in the Asbestos survey. If you are undertaking any maintenance, demolition or building work it’s essential to conduct an asbestos survey. Once the survey has been completed the findings should be shared with your contractors and any sub-contractors or self-employed individuals.

Asbestos is responsible for over 4500 deaths every year. It is the largest cause of work related fatalities and exposure to the fibres has to be controlled. Your health and safety consultants can help you to learn whether you have asbestos present through the various asbestos surveys. They can also give you advice on what steps to take if asbestos is found to be present. If you require an asbestos survey or any other health and safety services contact us on: 0800 1488 677 today.


David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner extraordinaire. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the MD of Veritas Consulting. David also Blogs about Health and Safety here Health and Safety Consultants

His aim is to flavour Health and Safety with integrity, served with a side of humour You can find David on - Twitter and Google also Linkedin

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