Prosecutions

NEWS: Asbestos exposure risk during school refurb leads to fines of over £1.2m

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Three companies have been fined a total of over £1.2m after workers were potentially exposed to asbestos while refurbishing a school in east London.


Southwark Crown Court heard refurbishment and remodelling work was being undertaken at a school site in Brooke Road in Walthamstow in summer 2012 to enable local primary school, St Mary’s, to further expand the number of pupils housed on the site.

However, on 24 July 2012 a worker removed part of a suspended ceiling in one of the ground floor refurbished rooms and identified suspected asbestos containing materials. Asbestos fibres were subsequently found in numerous areas in the school.

Waltham Forest Council had a contract with NPS London Limited, a joint venture between the council and property management company NPS Group, to manage the development and refurbishment of its estate of buildings and sites. The principal contractor for the school refurbishment project was Mansell Construction Services, part of Balfour Beatty Regional Construction Limited, and the subcontractor was demolition and asbestos removal company Squibb Group Limited.

HSE’s investigation found that, although an asbestos survey had been completed, there were multiple caveats and disclaimers which were not appropriately checked.

“The principal contractor and contractors on site did not review the survey report in detail, and did not take into consideration the multitude of caveats,” said HSE inspector Sarah Robinson after the case.

“Therefore the work undertaken did not adopt the high standards of control expected for working where there was the potential to expose workers to asbestos.”

Balfour Beatty Regional Construction Limited (previously Mansell Construction Services Limited) of Canary Wharf, London, was fined £500,000 and ordered to pay costs of £32,364.84 after pleading guilty to breaching sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

NPS London Limited, of Business Park Norwich, Norfolk, was fined £370,000 and ordered to pay £32,364.84 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching section 3(1) of the HSWA 1974.

Squibb Group Limited, of Stanford Le Hope, Essex, was fined £400,000 and ordered to pay costs of £175,000 after being found guilty after a trial of a breach of section 2(1) of the HSWA 1974.

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