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Council fined for failing to prevent exposure to asbestos

​Kent County Council has been fined £200,000 after workers were exposed to asbestos in a school formerly run by the council.

School sign

7 September 2018

In 2014 a routine food inspection was carried out by an environmental health officer when they noticed what they suspected to be asbestos rope hanging from the ceiling at Lansdowne Primary School in Sittingbourne.
 
An investigation was carried out which found that the rope and flue had been disturbed when the now independent school was under the control of the county council.
 
The caretaker had removed a steriliser unit which was attached the flue and gasket rope. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that neither the caretaker nor the head teacher of the school had any training on asbestos management.

As a result the Health and Safety Executive prosecuted Kent County Council for failing to effectively to prevent exposure and failing to provide suitable training to those liable to be exposed to asbestos.
 
The council pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay a fine of £200,000 and £21,500 in costs.
 
Vijay Ganapathy, partner in Leigh Day’s asbestos team, said:
 
“I am pleased to see that the HSE have taken action in this matter which shows a woeful lack of awareness by the council. Asbestos is a deadly substance and it must be treated accordingly. We can only hope that this is the first time that the asbestos has been disturbed.
 
“Anyone who suffers from an asbestos-related disease which they believe to be caused by exposure to asbestos due to negligence from their employer can consider making a civil claim.”

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