An NHS trust has been ordered to pay more than £89,000 after health inspectors found workers were potentially exposed to asbestos material at three hospitals in Hertfordshire.
Maintenance teams at West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust – which look after buildings at Watford General Hospital, Hemel Hempstead Hospital and St Albans Hospital – were not aware of asbestos being present, or trained on how to identify and control the material, St Albans Crown Court heard.
No risk controls
The potential exposure occurred over an 11-year period between April 2000 and December 2011, magistrates were told, with the possibility that asbestos fibres were unwittingly disturbed during the course of small repairs and maintenance projects carried out by the teams.
Over the period, the trust had identified some of the asbestos materials at their sites but did not have a management or monitoring plan in place.
Additional surveys in December 2011 uncovered more asbestos sites at all three hospitals than previously thought, leading to the trust contacting the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
A lack of management over all of the asbestos sites led to the HSE prosecuting the trust for health and safety breaches.
West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, was fined £55,000 and ordered to pay £34,078 in costs after pleading guilty to four breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and a single breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Following the 2011 survey, the trust enforced control measures, the court heard, but the previous lack of awareness meant the trust had failed in protecting workers from any possible exposed for more than a decade, the HSE said.
Asbestos exposure is related to a number of potentially fatal diseases, such as mesothelioma, which can take years to develop.
Those affected by such exposure in the workplace could be entitled to compensation.
Accident Advice Helpline’s asbestos claims are handled on a no-win, no-fee basis. To start the process, fill out our 30-second claim form or call us on 0800 689 0500.
Source: BBC News