A Liverpool NHS Trust has been fined £10,000 after it was discovered its workers might have been exposed to potentially-deadly asbestos fibres.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust after the fibres were found in the basement of its London Road offices in January 2013.
Liverpool Magistrates’ Court heard that the Trust had failed to act on a 2006 survey carried out in the premises. The survey identified an area of the basement which may contain asbestos, recommending that it should be properly assessed.
An investigation by the HSE found the workers had been visiting the basement regularly in order to access patient records.
The risk of asbestos exposure came to light on 9th January 2013, when the Trust’s health and safety manager saw that doors in the basement leading to an out-of-use goods lift were damaged. The doors contained asbestos and as such those accessing the basement were being placed at risk of exposure.
A survey was conducted and found that asbestos fibres were in fact present in a number of areas in the basement.
On 26th February, the Trust was fined £10,000 as well as £696 in prosecution costs after it pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Imran Siddiqui said: “Around 4,000 people die every year as a result of breathing in asbestos fibres, making it the biggest single cause of work-related deaths in the UK.
“It’s therefore vital that organisations take the risks from asbestos seriously. The Trust, in line with the 2006 survey, should have assumed asbestos was present in an area of the basement and taken appropriate action to make it safe for people working there.
“Instead, workers were allowed to regularly visit the basement to access patient files increasing the risk of exposure to the potentially-deadly fibres.”