A Liverpool NHS Trust has pleaded guilty to putting its employee’s lives at risk by allowing them to become exposed to asbestos.
The Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust was fined £10,000 and must pay an extra £696 in prosecution costs. Liverpool Magistrates’ Court was told by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that the trust failed to act after a 2006 survey revealed the basement of its offices at Derwent House may contain asbestos.
The trust received a recommendation to properly assess the condition of the areas containing asbestos, but it did not. Employees continued to go down into the basement in order to access patient records on a regular basis, reports hse.gov.uk. The risk of exposure to the deadly fibres was only recognised when the doors of a goods lift in the basement, which was not being used, became damaged.
It was later discovered that the doors contained asbestos; fibres were also found in a number of other areas after a survey was carried out, reports liverpoolecho.co.uk. Imran Siddiqui, HSE inspector, said that breathing in asbestos fibres leads to the deaths of around 4,000 people every year in the UK.
“It’s therefore vital that organisations take the risks from asbestos seriously,” he added. “The trust, in line with the 2006 survey, should have assumed asbestos was present in an area of the basement and taken appropriate action to make it safe for people working there.
“Instead, workers were allowed to regularly visit the basement to access patient files increasing the risk of exposure to the potentially-deadly fibres.”