Waltham Forest Council is awaiting sentencing for allowing workers to be exposed to asbestos in the basement of their town hall building.
The case has been set for March 30th at the Crown Court after the judge decided the case was too serious a matter for the magistrate’s court, which could only fine a maximum of £62,000 which would not reflect the severity of the matter.
The council has pleaded guilty to four counts of failing staff and contractors by ignoring asbestos warnings.
Although it is not known when the asbestos was first disturbed, the council was first made aware in 2002 after being warned by an asbestos specialist that asbestos was present in the building. In 2012 a fresh survey was taken out discovering all 3 types of asbestos in the basement. Asbestos dust was also found to be present all over the building including in the print room, behind skirting boards and in corridors, all areas which employees frequently worked.
The council have admitted that they could have done more to manage the asbestos.
The issue was discovered when a local resident was refused access to files held by the council due to the risk of asbestos dust and contamination. The member of the public then contacted the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for the investigation to be carried out.
The union working for the council employees said that the council failed to protect staff and contractors from the asbestos dust and exposure. There was a lack of concern by council leaders for staff, which led to the Chief Executive of Waltham Council being called on to resign by the union.
The council accept responsibility for neglecting to manage the asbestos and are working with the HSE to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Waltham Forest Council are taking the matter seriously with no expense being spared in putting the matter right.
A council employee who worked in repo-graphics department located in the basement of the town hall building for 3 years between 2009-2012 feels as though his life has been put at risk in a bid to get the job done. He believes that the council showed no regard to him or his colleagues and will always be concerned about asbestos exposure
All duty holders and those responsible for employees are required by legislation to manage the asbestos in their building, especially if it was built before 2000. Contact our Armco office for asbestos management and refurbishment/ demolition surveys on 0161 763 3727 or by visiting https://www.armco.org.uk/.
We also offer comprehensive training courses in asbestos awareness, works with non-licensed asbestos and face fit testing and training at our dedicated training facility in Bury, Manchester or a location convenient to you. Call 0161 761 4424 or visit https://www.armcoasbestostraining.co.uk/ for enquires or to book a training course.
Published Feb 17, 2015