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Asbestos in Schools

School caretaker exposed to asbestos


North Tyneside Council has pleaded guilty to five breaches of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002 after a school caretaker was twice exposed to the substance.

The caretaker at Wallsend Jubilee Primary School swept the boiler house on two occasions, unaware that it was contaminated with asbestos and had been quarantined.

HSE inspector Stephen Britton told HSP that a survey had identified asbestos in the boiler room and specialists had been hired to remove it. When the surveyor came back to issue a clearance certificate, they found more asbestos that had been missed in the original survey, which was "botched". The surveyor informed North Tyneside Council in its report that there was still asbestos in the boiler room, but the revised report never made it to the school. The caretaker was new to the school, and the first he knew of the contamination was when asbestos removal contractors arrived to quote for the additional work and he saw them putting on protective clothing before going into the boiler room.

Britton said the caretaker had thoroughly swept the room, including the walls, and had been "completely caked in dust".

North Tyneside Council admitted breaching Regulations 4, 6, 9, 10 and 13 of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002 (since replaced by the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006), which relate to the duty to manage asbestos; assessing the risks of work that could expose employees to asbestos; providing information, instruction and training; preventing or reducing exposure; and providing and cleaning protective clothing.

On 5 September, North Tyneside magistrates fined the council £17,005 with £3911 costs.

In a separate case heard on the same day, North Tyneside Council admitted breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act over the death of Brian Kindred, a member of the public who was hit by a reversing refuse truck near his home in Camperdown in May 2006. The council will be sentenced at the crown court at a later date.