Employees And Workers At Children’s Hospital Potentially Exposed To Deadly Material
By Suzanne Rutter
Expert industrial disease lawyers have warned that valuable lessons need to be learned by other employers after a health board was fined following an incident in which workers at a children’s hospital were potentially exposed to deadly asbestos.
The material was found in the basement of the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Yorkhill in February 2009. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde was instructed to survey the materials containing asbestos, which were then in a good condition and they were considered to be a low risk of causing harm to others.
However, since the asbestos was discovered, the material had been damaged and in January 2011 a survey of the room found that the asbestos material then posed a much higher risk. The Health and Safety Executive took air and swab samples for asbestos that came back positive.
The health board has since been fined £6,000 at Glasgow Sherriff Court for breaching regulations which control asbestos.
According to the Scottish Government agency, employees and outside contractors had access to the plant room and could potentially have been exposed to the harmful asbestos when they carried out maintenance work.
Specialist industrial disease lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, who represent thousands of people affected by debilitating asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer every year, said lessons must be learnt from this case about the dangers of asbestos.
Elaine Russell, a partner at Irwin Mitchell’s Glasgow office, said: “Guidelines and regulations are in place regarding the removal and management of asbestos for the simple reason of keeping workers and members of the public safe.
“We act for people who have been exposed to asbestos as a result of safety failings as well as the families of victims who have died as a result of the asbestos-related illnesses, so we have seen first-hand the terrible consequences that exposure to the deadly material can have.
“We have also campaigned for a number of years for decisions to be made on this issue and have recommended measures including the introduction of a full register of all asbestos in public buildings such as hospitals and schools, as well as regular inspections to ensure such a database is kept up to date.
“There is no safe limit for asbestos and it can take decades for the debilitating symptoms to show. We hope this case involving NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is a stark reminder to other employers that asbestos exposure should be taken seriously to ensure exposure to the deadly dust is minimised.”
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