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School asbestos safety breaches results in fines of £1.2m

26 July 2017

Substantial fines have been awarded against three companies following health and safety failings during the refurbishment of a Waltham Forest school.

Following the removal of a suspended ceiling at St Mary's school in July 2012, a worker identified the presence of asbestos.

An investigation was completed, which then identified the presence of asbestos fibres in a number of other areas of the school.

This meant that workers involved with the refurbishment works had been exposed to the deadly fibres.

During the resulting hearing at Southwark Crown Court, it was stated that the London Borough of Waltham Forest had contracted NPS London to manage the development and refurbishment of its estate.

Mansell Construction Services (a former brand within Balfour Beatty) was the principal contractor at the time of the incident, with Squibb Group providing subcontractor services.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said its investigation revealed that an asbestos survey had been carried out, but a number of disclaimers and caveats had not been properly checked.

HSE inspector Sarah Robinson said the principal contractor and others on site had not reviewed the report in sufficient detail or considered the "multitude of caveats".

A fine of £500,000 and costs of over £32,000 were awarded against Balfour Beatty Regional Construction of Canary Wharf, London, after it pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work, etc, Act 1974.

In addition to costs of over £32,000, a fine of £370,000 was awarded against NPS London, of Business Park Norwich, Norfolk following a guilty plea to breaching Section 3(1) of the same Act.

Squibb Group received a fine of £400,000 with costs of £175,000 after it was found guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work, etc, Act 1974.

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