West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust has been fined £55,000 and ordered to pay £ 34,078 in costs after it was found likely to have exposed workers to potentially fatal asbestos material for more than a decade at Watford General Hospital, Hemel Hempstead Hospital and St Albans Hospital.
During the course of an 11 year period, the Trust estates team, who would carry out small repairs and maintenance projects, could have disturbed asbestos fibres, but would have had no way of knowing or of protecting themselves due to the Trusts failure to effectively monitor and manage the risk of exposure.
West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust pleaded guilty to four breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and a single breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
“It is important to note that not everyone who is exposed to asbestos goes on to develop an illness as a result, the chance of developing an asbestos-related illness from a one-off incident of low level exposure is unlikely. Sadly, some of the Trust’s employees will now have that knowledge and fear that they may have been exposed. It often takes decades for such illness to start following exposure. For anyone who may have suffered a recent exposure to asbestos at work there are a number of steps you can take. Firstly, you should report the exposure to your employer. You should also mention any asbestos exposure to your GP so that it can be recorded on your medical records, should any related condition develop in the future.”
Further information can be obtained from the HSE at http://press.hse.gov.uk/2014/nhs-trust-in-court-after-workers-potentially-exposed-to-asbestos/