Newnham College fined £12,000 for asbestos failings

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Newnham College has been fined £12,000 for failings that exposed employees and subcontractors to asbestos during refurbishment works on a flat owned by the college

Cambridge Magistrates’ Court heard that in March 2018, employees of Newnham College and subcontractors were carrying out refurbishment works on a flat on Grange Road, when asbestos insulation debris was discovered in the floor voids after work had been carried out in them.

No asbestos refurbishment survey was carried out prior to insulation debris being found. One employee, who contaminated his gloves and clothing with loose asbestos debris, did not have asbestos awareness training and spread asbestos from his clothing outside the flat.

HSE investigation

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that there was inadequate planning and management of the refurbishment work of a flat on Grange Road, when asbestos insulation debris was discovered in the floor voids after work had been carried out in them.

Newnham College pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 5 and 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. It has been fined £12,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,450.28.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Sandra Dias, said: “Asbestos surveys need to be carried out prior to refurbishment works which disturbs the fabric of a building. Asbestos is still present in hidden locations in buildings and needs to be located before work starts that could potentially expose individuals.

“Asbestos-related diseases are currently untreatable and claim the lives of an estimated 5,000 people per year in the UK.”

Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 came into force on 6 April 2012, updating previous asbestos regulations to take account of the European Commission’s view that the UK had not fully implemented the EU Directive on exposure to asbestos.

Some types of non-licensed work with asbestos now have additional requirements, ie notification of work, medical surveillance and record keeping.

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