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  • Fearghal Harrington

School and contractor fined for unsafe removal of asbestos

A school and its maintenance contractor have been fined after workers disturbed asbestos at the school while installing a new heating system.


Peterlee Magistrates’ Court heard that, in February 2019, the contractor had been contracted by Park View Academy, to install a new heating system in the school building at Park View School, Chester Le Street.


In the course of the work, ceiling tiles containing asbestos were disturbed, potentially exposing several people to asbestos fibers.


An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the contractor and the school both failed to refer to existing asbestos registers and management plans to identify the presence of asbestos within the school building.


The school pleaded guilty to breaching sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974 and was fined £3000 with £4785.37 costs.


The contractor pleaded guilty to breaching sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £2,000 with £4,710.37 costs.


Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Ashfaq Ali commented, “The dangers associated with asbestos are well known and advice and guidance are freely available from HSE and other organizations. Those in charge of premises have a duty to inform contractors of the presence of asbestos-containing materials, ensuring that works are carried out safely.


“Those undertaking work which is likely to disturb asbestos or asbestos-containing materials should ensure that building occupants and operatives are not exposed to asbestos. Those undertaking the work should also provide suitable information, instruction, and training to their employees.


“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”


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