School asbestos exposure leads to £200k fine for council
Kent County Council (KCC) has been fined £200,000 after asbestos was disturbed at Lansdowne Primary School in Sittingbourne.
Canterbury Crown Court was told how, on 6 November 2014, an environmental health officer was carrying out a routine food inspection when they noticed what looked like 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 HSE found that the flue and gasket rope were attached to a steriliser unit that was removed by the caretaker. The investigation also revealed that neither the caretaker nor the head teacher had any asbestos management or awareness training. The council failed to effectively prevent exposure and failed to provide suitable training to those liable to be exposed to asbestos.
Kent County Council pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 10 (1) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and was fined £200,000 with 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.”
Last week, SHP reported that HSE is investigating school gauze mats for asbestos.
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