Expert Calls For Lessons To Be Learned
An asbestos-related illness expert at Irwin Mitchell has welcomed the £22,000 fine handed down to the University of Lincoln after it failed to keep staff, students and contractors safe from exposure to the deadly material.
The organisation was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £12,760 after pleading guilty to two counts of breaching regulations in relation to failings which came to light in February 2010 when a lecturer was trapped in a room when a door lock broke.
After being freed, both the lecturer and a colleague noticed debris on a door handle. Following further investigations it was revealed that doors and other areas were lined with asbestos insulating board, including some which were damaged.
The Health and Safety Executive then discovered that while asbestos surveys were carried out on the university’s estate and areas were found to contain materials, no remedial action was taken.
Adrian Budgen, national head of asbestos litigation at Irwin Mitchell, said the fine handed down to the university should be an example to other organisations of the importance of proper asbestos management.
He said: “Universities have a huge footfall and it is extremely worrying that many students, staff and other visitors could potentially have been exposed to asbestos as a result of Lincoln University’s failure to properly manage the potential risks.
“The dangers of exposure to the hazardous material, which can cause mesothelioma and other terrible illnesses, have been known for over a hundred years and organisations including learning institutions have a duty to ensure they meet the required safety guidelines.
“Many of the cases we handle show the devastating consequences that a failure to consider safety can have on so many victims and their families.
“This fine sends a clear message that employers and other bodies, including schools and universities, need to ensure they carefully monitor the presence of asbestos in buildings in a way which ensures people are not exposed to the harmful fibres. This issue is terribly important and simply cannot be ignored.”
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