warning for schools as large fine handed out due to asbestos
Schools were reminded again of the need to have adequate
management plans for the control of asbestos and for the need to
carry out appropriate asbestos surveys when undertaking maintenance
work as a school found itself receiving a large fine in Dorchester
Crown Court recently.
Sherborne School, a large independent boys school in the town of
Sherborne, were undertaking a refurbishment project of a boarding
house. Although there was an asbestos register kept for the school
buildings the school failed to obtain a full asbestos survey for
the building being renovated and therefore were found in breach of
their duty to manage the control of asbestos on its site. During
the refurbishment project asbestos behind wall panels was removed
and broken up by contractors, including a teenager on work
experience and these workers were therefore put at unnecessary risk
of exposure to asbestos fibres.
Although the school had appointed a designer neither the
designer nor the school had appointed a Construction, Design and
Management (CDM) co-ordinator for the refurbishment project who
would have ensured that a full refurbishment and demolition
asbestos survey was completed in advance of the construction works.
Licensed asbestos contractors could then have been appointed to
Sherborne School was fined a total of £60,000 and were ordered
to pay £13,000 in costs. The designer, Peter Eldridge, was found
guilty of failing to avoid foreseeable risks in his design and
commencing work before a CDM co-ordinator had been appointed. He
was fined £10,000 with costs of £6,000.
It is well known that school buildings, particularly those built
in the 50s, 60s and 70s are likely to contain asbestos and schools
are therefore reminded of the need to ensure that they comply with
their duty to manage the control of asbestos on their sites and be
aware of the requirements of removing asbestos safely.