Belfast grammar school fined £7,500 over asbestos find

20th May 2014

Bloomfield Collegiate, an East Belfast grammar school, has been fined £7,500 after asbestos was discovered in parts of its building.

According to bbc.co.uk, the school’s board of governors pleaded guilty to three breaches of health and safety. Bloomfield’s failed to protect non-employees and did not provide an asbestos plan on dates between June 1, 2011 and May 21, 2012. As well as paying the fine, the school will also have to cover legal costs amounting to £1,750. 

The asbestos was found in a smaller building on the school’s campus, which was being used as a nursery and has previously been used as a primary school. This means that children as young as four could have been exposed to asbestos. Judge David McFarland notes that although regulations were not breached on purpose, it is concerning that children of such a young age were put at risk, reports u.tv.

Concerns over the presence of asbestos were first raised in October 2011 by the school’s new principal, as it was discovered that the building in question had not been surveyed in 2004. Finally, a survey was carried out in May 2012 and asbestos was found to be present in the hallway, cupboards, shelves and behind the blackboard. After the discovery, the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) was notified straight away.

Judge McFarland concluded: “It is clear that the individuals concerned and the members of the board have shown remorse and that it is obvious from the actions that were taken once this material was discovered.”