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    HOSPITAL TRUST FINE FOLLOWS ASBESTOS EXPOSURE

    Client failed to pass on critical information to contractor

    City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust has been fined after contractors were exposed to asbestos fibres at Sunderland Eye Infirmary.

    Sunderland Magistrates’ Court heard that over the weekend of 24-25 March 2012 contractors at the infirmary drilled through door surrounds on a ward to install cables.

    The following day concerns were raised and it was confirmed that the door surrounds comprised asbestos insulating board (AIB). Drilling the board could cause fibres to be released into the air.

    HSE investigators found that a Trust asbestos survey showed asbestos in the door surrounds. However, despite several site meetings between the Trust and the contractors no information on the location or condition of any asbestos was provided to the contractors.

    Robust asbestos management system must be in place

    City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, Kayll Road, Sunderland was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay £4,582.40 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 4 (9)(c)(i) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.

    After the hearing, HSE inspector Shuna Rank, said:

    “This incident was entirely preventable and highlights the importance of having a robust asbestos management system in place. City Hospitals Sunderland had put considerable resources into identifying where asbestos was in the hospital buildings but failed to have efficient procedures in place to ensure the information was passed to the contractors.

    As a result workers drilled through the asbestos-containing material, potentially exposing themselves, hospital staff and members of the public to dangerous fibres.

    There need to be systems in place to ensure that all workers are aware of where asbestos is if their work is likely to bring them into contact with asbestos-containing materials.”

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