Asbestos Advice Helpline Warn Against Complacency in Asbestos Management

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Following HSE reports of a recent fine issued to the Greater Glasgow Health Board for failing to manage asbestos risks, the Asbestos Advice Helpline warn employers against complacency when dealing with this dangerous substance in the workplace.

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it is vitally important that employers take prompt action when asbestos risks are identified in their workplace

According the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), the Greater Glasgow Health Board, known as NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, was last month fined £10,000 after pleading guilty to breaches of Regulation 4(10)(b) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 (See On the 20th December, Glasgow Sheriff Court was told that three surveys, dating back to 2004, had identified the presence of materials containing asbestos in a neurology plant and switch room in Southern General Hospital. On each occasion the board was advised that there was a high risk and removal and environmental cleaning was recommended. Despite this, the board took no action and, in March 2011, asbestos containing materials were found to be damaged, causing the room to be sealed and the matter to be reported to the HSE.

A spokesperson for the Asbestos Advice Helpline said: “The fact that the Greater Glasgow Health Board seemingly took no action over the presence of high risk asbestos for seven years is very alarming; during this time anybody who worked in this room, whether employees of the health board or outside contractors, is likely to have been exposed to asbestos fibres which could cause serious illnesses in the future. The Greater Glasgow Health Board, by failing to respond to the recommendations in these three separate surveys, quite simply failed in their duty to protect these individuals.”

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral which has been used for heat and sound insulation, amongst other purposes, for many years. However, asbestos poses a significant health risk, as the inhalation of asbestos fibres can lead to serious illnesses such as malignant lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. Its use in building materials was banned in the UK in 1999, but many buildings built or renovated before that date still retain asbestos containing materials, and therefore regulations are in place regarding its control. The Asbestos Advice Helpline spokesperson continued: “Because there is no known safe limit with regards to asbestos exposure, it is vitally important that employers take prompt action when asbestos risks are identified in their workplace. They have a duty to protect their employees from this highly dangerous substance, and complacency can lead not only to fines, as in this case, but to future claims for compensation from employees who suffer as a result of such negligence.”

The Asbestos Advice Helpline was established to help those suffering from asbestos related diseases and individuals who may be entitled to make a claim for compensation. The Asbestos Advice Helpline operates on a no win, no fee policy to help those afflicted (and their families) to deal with the legal procedures of making a claim. Asbestos was widely used before its ban and has affected many trade professionals who worked with it at the time; as well as people who may have come into contact with it since without knowing. Asbestos kills around 4,500 people a year from related diseases including asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer.

For more information on asbestos and asbestos-related diseases, to place a claim with the Asbestos Advice Helpline or to contact them about any of their professional services, visit or call the Asbestos Advice Helpline team on 0800 088 7396.

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Linda Fletcher
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