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Council Fined Over Asbestos Mistake

Mother And Son Exposed To Asbestos Dust


City of Lincoln Council is facing a bill of £22,000 after a mistake led to a mother and her disabled son being exposed to deadly asbestos dust for three days.

Lincoln Magistrates' Court heard that council workers had discovered the substance in Lorena Hall's home while installing modifications for her son Michael, who suffers from cerebral palsy.

Prosecutors said that a communications breakdown meant a company hired to move the substance broke it up with a hammer while still indoors, flooding the property with the dust, which can cause the fatal lung condition mesothelioma.

It took three days for the mistake for the mistake to be realised - and even then it was by a private company rather than council officers.

The council was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay in £10,000 in costs after pleading guilty to health and safety violations.

The conviction is the council's first health and safety fine since it was formed in 1974.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

Adrian Budgen, an asbestos lawyer from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "This is a very worrying situation and shows how careful you have to be before carrying out major refurbishment work in the home.

“The council owed Lorena Hall and her disabled son a duty of care and let them down badly. Children are particularly susceptible, if exposed to airborne asbestos fibres, as their lungs are not fully formed. A child with cerebral palsy may be even more vulnerable.

“The fine imposed on the council is a modest one, relatively speaking, but the conviction will hopefully lead to an improvement in communications and prevent this type of thing happening again."