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Category Archives: Asbestos Legislation

Health trust admits to breaches of health and safety laws

Belfast trust has been in court for the second time in six months over health and safety breaches

Belfast Health and Social Care Trust has pleaded guilty to two offences relating to breaches of health and safety legislation, after admitting to failing to ensure the health and safety of employees and failing to protect non-staff on 28 February 2011.
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Illegal Site Operation fined £80,000

Two waste operators who ran an illegal site in Benfleet have been ordered to pay more than £80,000 in compensation, confiscation and fines.

A1 Bins & Waste Ltd’s director David John Tuffen and manager Nigel Lee Hickman had already been given suspended prison sentences back in February after Chelmsford Crown Court heard that the company illegally stored waste at Towerfields Business Park.
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Birmingham builder fined for illegal asbestos removal

A Birmingham builder has been prosecuted after he exposed himself and potentially young children and their parents to asbestos on the street where he lives.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Nicholas Sharpe, trading as Sharpe Builders, after he illegally removed and broke up asbestos panels from a home in Castle Bromwich. Continue reading

Two companies and contractor fined for releasing asbestos at Birmingham office

Two Worcestershire companies and a contractor have been prosecuted for releasing asbestos fibres during an office refurbishment project in Birmingham city centre.

Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) uncovered a series of failings during the refurbishment of a property on Colmore Row, work that included upgrading a lift containing asbestos insulating board.
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Government changes public liability insurance asbestos rules

The government has announced changes to the way in which compensation is to be paid out to asbestos victims and their families.

The new policy could mean an increase in the frequency of public liability insurance claims filed by the surviving family members of a deceased asbestos victim.

While campaigners welcome the change, professional liability insurance providers may not be quiet so happy when they are having to pay out for the claims.  Now those people that experienced a death in their family at the hands of asbestos-related illness will become eligible for business insurance compensation payments.

Construction companies and their insurers were informed that those who die from asbestos-related illnesses such as pleural plaques can have their families receive a compensation payout of £5,000.  The only requirement that must be met by these families is that a payout application had to have been lodged preceding the date of the asbestos victim’s death.
This new change to current law will now mean that all the long hard campaigning for a change in the current regulations that the victims of pleural plaques have endured will finally pay off.

However if a victim of asbestos-related illness dies without applying to the scheme, the government will still refuse to pay out on any claims.

Many illnesses such as pleural plaques have been linked to asbestos exposure.  Pleural plaques are related to the other highly prevalent asbestos-related medical condition known as mesothelioma.  While pleural plaques are benign lung tumours, mesothelioma is an especially virulent form of lung cancer that results in thousands of deaths every year.

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Teachers’ leaders have expressed reservation over the HSE’s ‘misplaced confidence’ with latest report findings

Teachers’ leaders have cast doubt on the severity of an official report into the management of asbestos in schools. The National Union of Teachers (NUT) said the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which carried out the study, and the Department for Education, were demonstrating a “misplaced confidence” in the findings.

The study, published last week – almost 18 months after the original deadline of April 2009 – found that only 10 local authorities were ordered to make improvements into their asbestos management arrangements.

The initial stage of the assessment involved a questionnaire to be sent out to all local authorities which they simply had to complete and return, from this the HSE then decided as to whether or not the authority needed investigating further. Basically unless local authorities actually openly admitted to the failings in their systems, the HSE would not deem it necessary to investigate further resulting in 110 schools being cleared at this early stage.

From this a further 45 required further contact, of which 42 underwent a sample visit of schools by inspectors, and 19 were contacted for verification inspections to determine compliance with the law.

The study found that “the majority of these follow-up inspections by HSE confirmed that there was general good compliance with the duty to maintain asbestos”.

In all, 32 authorities were given additional advice on how to ensure their systems remained effective in the future.
The study looked particularly at areas with system-built schools, constructed between 1945 and 1980. A common feature of these is the fire-proofing of structural columns with asbestos-containing materials, known as ACMs, and enclosed by metal casings or cladding.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, which has been campaigning for better asbestos awareness in schools following a number of deaths of teaching staff, said: “While welcoming the survey as a step in the right direction, the NUT views this (the HSE’s) confidence as misplaced.

Apart from the fact that the survey was restricted to asbestos management in system-built schools, we question how it can be claimed that the majority of local authorities meet legal requirements in terms of asbestos management when only 42 were actually visited by HSE inspectors.”

The argument put forward is that the true understanding of the nature of the problem can only be gained with a ‘full independent’ national audit of all schools.

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Around 2,400 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in the UK each year

NHS officials expect that the number of cases of mesothelioma in the UK is expected to rise sharply over the next 20 years as the people exposed to asbestos 20-40years ago are starting to experience the symptoms of the damage it has done.

It has long been known that working directly with asbestos is a great danger to your health; primary asbestos exposure is now heavily regulated as a result. However, it is only recently that public health officials have realised that the families of asbestos workers are also at risk, as secondhand asbestos exposure can prove just as lethal.

The number of cases of people developing mesothelioma cancer (a cancer whose only cause is from asbestos exposure), asbestosis, and lung cancer due to secondhand asbestos exposure is steadily increasing, with around 2,400 people being diagnosed each year. The age in which people are being diagnosed appears to be steadily decreasing.

A newspaper recently reported on the story of a 44year woman who has developed the lethal disease mesothelioma. She is one of the youngest people in Britain to be diagnosed with the rare lung disease and is convinced the reason that she got it was after inhaling microscopic asbestos fibres from her grandfather’s overalls.

He worked with asbestos at docks on the South Coast and died from mesothelioma in 2000 aged 86. The grandaughter, who lives in the city, said: “Back then they came home with asbestos on their clothes. I contracted it from the normal cuddles between a grandfather and his grandaughter.”

Doctors have now only given her nine months to live.

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