Local Council fined after workers exposed to asbestos in a Primary School

Asbestos in a Primary School – Kent County Council (KCC) has today been fined £200,000 after asbestos was disturbed at Lansdowne Primary School. Canterbury Crown Court heard how, in November 2014, an environmental health officer was carrying out a routine food inspection when they noticed what looked like an asbestos rope hanging from the ceiling.

A prohibition notice was served on the now independent educational trust. An investigation found that the asbestos flue and rope were disturbed when it was under the control of the County Council 18 months beforehand.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the flue and gasket rope were attached to a steriliser unit that had been removed by the caretaker. The investigation also found that neither the caretaker nor the head teacher had any asbestos management or awareness training. The council failed to effectively prevent exposure to asbestos and failed to provide suitable training to those liable to be exposed to asbestos. In this case (as in many others), Asbestos in a Primary School happened because people were not sufficiently knowledgeable.

Kent County Council pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 10 (1) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £21,500.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Kevin Golding said

The Council had implemented a system, but they had failed to take the simple step of checking to ensure it was being rigorously adhered to, resulting in employees not receiving the appropriate training. Organisations should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.

According to an investigation into asbestos in schools by the BBC, 32 councils in England have settled claims from 220 retired teachers, school staff and ex-pupils in the last ten years.

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