NHS chiefs fined for asbestos blunder

Grant Prior 11 years ago
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A Scottish health board has been fined for safety failings that led to contractors being potentially exposed to deadly asbestos fibres.

Glasgow Sheriff Court heard that Greater Glasgow Health Board, known as Greater Glasgow & Clyde NHS, had failed to properly manage the risks of asbestos in a basement plant room of the Royal Hospital for Sick Children.

A survey in February 2009 had identified the presence of asbestos in various locations within the plant room and noted it was in good condition and presented a low risk.

The survey recommended that asbestos containing materials should 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 asbestos was in a poor condition and now posed a high risk. It recommended removal and environmental cleaning of the area.

Air and swab samples for asbestos fibres came back positive, the plant room was then sealed off.

An HSE investigation found that the health board had taken no action since the 2009 survey to monitor the plant room and no labelling of asbestos had taken place over the following two years.

The court also heard that during that period outside contractors regularly had to access the plant room and could have potentially been exposed to the harmful asbestos fibres when carrying out maintenance work.

Greater Glasgow Health Board was fined £6,000 after pleading guilty to safety breaches.

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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