Fined for Asbestos Failings – Scottish Health Board – Glasgow

The largest health board in Scotland has been fined £6000 for failing to deal with asbestos at a children’s hospital for two years.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde admitted neglecting asbestos control regulations by having asbestos present in a basement room of the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow. Glasgow Sheriff Court heard it led to a number of workers and contractors being exposed to asbestos fibres.

A survey was carried out at the site in February 2009 and identified the presence of asbestos containing materials (ACM’s) in a number of locations within the plant room. The survey noted that the ACMs were in good condition and presented a low risk. It was recommended that they were labelled and their condition monitored so any future deterioration could be managed.

In January 2011, prior to the installation of a new MRI scanner at the hospital, another survey of the plant room was carried out. The 2011 survey noted that some of the ACMs had deteriorated and posed a significantly high risk. It recommended that these be removed and an environmental cleaning of the area be carried out.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the health board had not taken any action since the 2009 survey to monitor the materials. The ACMs had not been labelled and no action had been taken to keep the materials in good

Glasgow Sheriff Court heard how employees of the health board and outside contractors regularly had to access the plant room and could have potentially  been exposed to asbestos fibres when carrying out routine maintenance work.

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 exposure is kept to an absolute minimum. Glasgow Health Board failed in its duty to properly manage the risk of asbestos in its premises and as a result a number of employees and external contractors have potentially been exposed to harmful fibres.”

Peter Gray, QC, representing the health board, told the court a number of changes had been made, including a renewed policy. Mr Gray added that one of the most significant changes made was the post of an asbestos manager that bas been advertised to oversee and implement the policy.
A spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said “We accept that in this instance our robust asbestos procedures fell short of the standards we strive to maintain an the sheriff’s decision to issue a fine”

(story taken from Asbestos Insurance)