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HEALTH BOARD ERRORS PUT CONTRACTORS AT RISK

Fined over failure to label and maintain ACMs in good condition

A Scottish health board has been fined for safety failings that led to several workers and contractors being potentially exposed to asbestos fibres.

Glasgow Sheriff Court heard (20 June) that Greater Glasgow & Clyde NHS failed to properly manage the risks of asbestos in a basement plant room of the Royal Hospital for Sick Children (Yorkhill Hospital) in Glasgow.

A survey in February 2009 identified the presence of asbestos containing materials (ACMs) in various locations within the plant room and noted that they were in good condition and presented a low risk. The survey recommended the ACMs be labelled and their condition monitored so any future deterioration could be managed.

In January 2011 a survey of the plant room was carried out prior to the installation of a new MRI scanner at the hospital. This found that some of the ACMs were in a poor condition and now posed a high risk.

The survey recommended removal and environmental cleaning of the area. Air and swab samples tested positive and the plant room was sealed off and HSE notified.

HSE investigators found that no action had been taken since the 2009. Labelling of the ACMS had not taken place and nothing had been done over two years to maintain the materials in good condition. 

Employees of the health board and contractors had regularly accessed the plant room and could have been exposed to the asbestos fibres when carrying out maintenance work.

Duty to properly manage the risks of asbestos not met

Greater Glasgow Health Board, of JB Russell House, Gartnavel Royal Hospital, Great Western Road, Glasgow was fined £6,000 after pleading guilty to a breach of Regulation 4(10) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.

Regulation 4(10) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 states: “The dutyholder shall ensure that – a) the plan is reviewed and revised at regular intervals, and forthwith if – (i) there is reason to suspect that the plan is no longer valid, or (ii) there has been a significant change in the premises to which the plan relates; b) the measures specified in the plan are implemented; and c) the measures taken to implement the plan are recorded.”

Following the case, HSE Inspector Eve Macready, said:

“The dangers posed by the presence of asbestos are clear. There is no known ‘safe limit’ and it is often many years after exposure before asbestos-related diseases appear – so it is important that exposure to asbestos fibres is kept to an absolute minimum.

Glasgow Health Board failed in its duty to properly manage the risks of asbestos in its premises and as a result a number of employees and external contractors have potentially been exposed to harmful fibres.”

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