Contractors were exposed to asbestos due to a north east hospital’s failure.
Over the weekend of the 24 and 25th March 2012, contractors were working at the Sutherland Eye Infirmary on Queen Alexandra Road when they drilled through door surrounds on a ward to install cables.
The following day, a member of the Trust staff raised concerns regarding the work, and it was confirmed that the door surrounds were made from asbestos insulating board.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust had and asbestos survey that showed clearly that there was asbestos in the door surrounds. But, despite several site meeting between the Trust and the contractors, no information on the location or condition of any asbestos was provided to the contractors.
Swain & Co.’s personal injury solicitors say that asbestos insulating board does not pose a health risk unless it is damaged or worked on where the asbestos fibres can be released. Drilling through the boards could cause asbestos fibres to be released into the air.
The hospital trust was fined after pleading guilty to breaching the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.
The incident was entirely preventable and shows the importance of having robust asbestos management systems in place.
The Trust had already put considerable resources into identifying where asbestos was present in the hospital, but failed to have efficient procedures in place to ensure this information was passed onto the contractors.
As a result of the hospital’s failure, contractors drilled through asbestos containing material and possible exposed themselves to asbestos, as well as hospital staff and members of the public.
Asbestos is the UK’s single greatest cause of work related deaths. It is responsible for more than 4,500 deaths each year.
Asbestos is still present in many buildings and any work likely to disturb the asbestos needs to be actively managed to prevent exposure to it.
If you have been exposed to asbestos due to health and safety failings of another, call us for a free consultation to discuss the possibility of bringing a claim.
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