Asbestos exposure leads to prosecution

Asbestos exposure leads to prosecution

Newnham College has been fined for failings that exposed employees and subcontractors to asbestos during refurbishment of a flat owned by the College. Cambridge Magistrates’ Court heard, employees of Newnham College and subcontractors were carrying out a refurbishment of a flat on Grange Road, Cambridge when asbestos insulation debris was discovered in the floor voids after work had been carried out in them.

The failure here being that no asbestos refurbishment & demolition survey was carried out prior the works being conducted. One employee, who contaminated his gloves and clothing with loose asbestos debris, did not have asbestos awareness training and compounded this incident by spreading asbestos from his clothing outside the flat which could have put other personnel at risk. There is a legal requirement within the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 that any person that is at risk of exposure to asbestos receives asbestos awareness training.

The HSE investigation

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that there was inadequate planning and management of the refurbishment work of a flat when asbestos insulation debris was discovered in the floor voids after work had been carried out in them. The main contractor and client were required to make arrangements for a refurbishment and demolition survey prior to starting the works; had this happened the incident and subsequent prosecution would not have occurred.

The fine

Newnham College pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 5 and 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. It has been fined £12,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,450.28.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Sandra Dias said:

“Asbestos surveys need to be carried out prior to refurbishment works which disturb the fabric of a building. Asbestos is still present in hidden locations in buildings and needs to be located before work starts that could potentially expose individuals. Asbestos related diseases are currently untreatable and claim the lives of an estimated 5,000 people per year in the UK.”


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