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UNIVERSITY FAILED TO MANAGE ASBESTOS RISK

Fine imposed after contractor staff exposed to asbestos during fitting CCTV

Aston University in Birmingham and a security systems firm have been fined after two workers were exposed to asbestos fibres during the fitting of CCTV cameras.

Two workmen including a 17-year-old trainee were installing cameras in the University Recreation Centre reception area in July 2009 when they drilled into asbestos containing materials.

Birmingham Magistrates heard how the university failed to follow its own procedures on managing, planning and preparing for the CCTV installation. The arrangements were “unclear and not widely known within the university”.

Aston University pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5(1) of the Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999 and Regulation 4(9)(c) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £2,000 costs.

Access Fire and Security Ltd, of Henley-in-Arden pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5(a) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £1,000 costs.

Survey details not communicated to contractor

Karl Raw, the investigating inspector at HSE, said:

“While the amount of asbestos involved in this incident was small, two people now have to live with the knowledge that they may become ill from lung disease in the future.

Aston University failed to ensure university employees and others working across the site were aware of the presence of asbestos fibres.

Surveys on the location and conditions of asbestos and materials containing asbestos had been carried out across the university but there was no procedure for communicating the details to contractors.

Access Fire and Security Ltd, a long-term contractor with the university, had never been given any information about asbestos – and had never asked for it. They also failed to assess whether asbestos was present, what type of asbestos was involved and what condition it was in, before undertaking work.”

Asbestos is the biggest single cause of work-related deaths in the UK, with an estimated 4,000 people dying every year. Information on working safely with asbestos is available at www.hse.go.uk/asbestos.

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