The importance of protecting people from the chance of suffering work related diseases has been highlighted after a university and a contractor were fined after two employees came into contact with asbestos.
The asbestos, which causes some of the most deadly work related diseases, was located in Aston University’s Recreation Centre and a worker and a 17-year-old trainee disturbed it when they drilled into the wall of the reception area in order to install security cameras.
Because the pair were potential exposed to asbestos, they could suffer from work related diseases in later life.
The University and the contractor, Warwickshire-based Access Fire and Security, were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive for failing to ensure the two men were probably protected against the risk of contracting work related diseases.
Birmingham Magistrates’ Court heard how Aston University had failed to follow its own procedures on managing, planning and preparing for the installation and, furthermore, the arrangements for doing so were not widely known in the institution. This was one of the reasons the two men were exposed to asbestos which causes work related diseases.
The University admitted breaching Regulation 5(1) of the Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999 and Regulation 4(9)(c) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006. It was fined £4,000 and had to pay costs of £2,000.
Access Fire and Security, which is registered at an address in Yardley Wood, pleaded guilty to breaking Regulation 5(a) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £1,000 costs.
Because of the nature of asbestos exposure, it is impossible to tell if either man will develop work related diseases because the symptoms can take years to develop.
However, the substance, which causes a range of fatal work related diseases, is the biggest single cause of work-related deaths in the UK.
Commenting afterwards, Karl Raw, the HSE’s investigating inspector, explained that employers and businesses have a duty to ensure they carry out the right surveys in order to protect workers against the risk of contracting work related diseases.
Neither the university or Access Fire and Security had done so in this case.