Nine out of 10 NHS trusts ‘have hospitals containing asbestos’

About 90% of NHS trusts have said that asbestos is present in their hospital buildings, according to a BBC News report, in response to Freedom of Information requests sent to all 243 NHS trusts in Britain.

211 trusts responded to the BBC’s inquiry, of which 198 said they operated hospitals with the potentially lethal material inside. The use of asbestos in construction was banned in the 1980s and the material is considered safe if it is left undisturbed. However, building work can cause fibres to be released and inhaled, thereby putting human health at risk.

NHS Improvement said that experts are brought in to safely remove asbestos when construction work is undertaken in its hospitals, adding that strict regulations ensured the safe registration and containment of the material.

However, an MP has said there should be an audit to determine the extent of the problem of asbestos within NHS buildings.

Worries about the risks of disturbed or deteriorated asbestos

Chair of the All Parliamentary Group for Occupational Health and Safety, Jo Stevens MP, urged the government to undertake an audit to “ensure every trust knows the extent of asbestos on their premises and has a plan for dealing with it.”

She added: “If it’s there, it will at some point become dangerous if it’s disturbed or if it deteriorates, so I’d like to see long-term plans and long-term strategies in place for its removal from all buildings.

“I appreciate that you have to prioritise what you do and so that’s why there should be an audit of buildings so that the dangerous areas are dealt with first as a priority.”

 

The BBC also learned that the five-year period from January 2013 and December 2017 saw 352 claims made against health trusts by people who had developed asbestos-related diseases in NHS buildings.

The trusts said that approximately £6.8 million in payouts had been made in response to these claims. However, three legal firms told the BBC that they had won compensation claims amounting to more than £16.4 million during the same period.

Don’t overlook the importance of the most comprehensive asbestos management approach

With such services as asbestos awareness training, asbestos management surveys, asbestos air monitoring and – of course – asbestos removal all available from Trident Asbestos Solutions, you shouldn’t hesitate to contact us if you are concerned about the potential presence of such harmful material on your own premises.

You can request your competitive quotation now by calling 03333 441555, or fill in and submit our short online contact form to quickly start making the most of our asbestos expertise.

Concerns expressed over possible asbestos from demolished Bradford lodge

Calls have been made by Bradford residents to tackle a potential asbestos threat from a suddenly demolished historic lodge in the city.

As reported by the Telegraph & Argus, those living close to the largely levelled Wibsey Park Lodge have said they fear the site could be contaminated with the lethal substance. They include Gordon Peel, who lives opposite the park and recently attended a meeting of the Friends of Wibsey Park group, where concerns were raised about the building possibly containing asbestos.

He told the newspaper: “When I heard about the potential for asbestos in the building, I wanted to make sure that something would be done about it.”

“We don’t want dangerous particles to be released into the air”

 Mr Peel continued: “There was talk at the meeting about the asbestos now being buried under the rubble, and that there had been fires on the site to burn some wood.

“We don’t want dangerous particles to be released into the air. When they come to clear the bricks and rubble from the site, if there is any asbestos, it will end up being dug up again. It’s particularly worrying given the way the building has been demolished without the right paperwork in place.”

Also present at the meeting was Labour Wibsey councillor David Green, who has got in touch with the council about the asbestos fears. He said that the local authority had not been notified beforehand that the lodge would be demolished, which meant there wasn’t time for asbestos checks to be undertaken in advance.

He commented: “A number of people at the meeting expressed concerns that they believed they had seen asbestos being covered over and buried within the rubble.

“So I contacted the council’s environmental health department and have asked them to liaise with the Environment Agency so they can inspect the site and see whether asbestos isn’t being disposed of properly and take the appropriate action.”

Contact Trident Asbestos Solutions about your own asbestos removal needs

 A spokesman for Bradford Council said that while the building was not listed, demolition was not permitted without prior approval from the council. He added that the owner had been contacted about the matter and was attempting to remedy the planning-control breach by making a retrospective planning application.

The three-bedroom property was judged surplus to operational requirements by corporate trustees and sold at auction in September. Proceeds are set to be reinvested in the park.

Could your own premises benefit from the close attention, diligence and skill of our highly professional asbestos consulatnts to assist with asbestos removal? If so, you can receive a competitive quote from Trident Asbestos Solutions now, by calling 03333 441555.

Findings of government’s schools asbestos survey won’t be published until the spring

The Department for Education (DfE) has reopened its schools asbestos survey to responses until next February, with minister Nick Gibb admitting that almost a quarter of schools had not yet participated in its “asbestos management assurance process”.

It means the findings from the survey will not be published until the spring of 2019, giving rise to concerns that the arrival of the report could be too late to influence long-term expenditure plans.

An eagerly anticipated report

Many have been waiting with bated breath for the publication of the results of the survey, which originally closed at the end of May this year. The “asbestos management assurance process” asks schools to declare whether or not they are compliant with their legal duty to manage asbestos on their premises.

Gibb told MPs during education questions on the afternoon of Monday 12th November that while 77% of schools had already responded, “we expect all state-funded schools and academies to participate, so we have reopened the assurance process from today until February 2019, to give them a further opportunity to do so.”

He also revealed: “The results of the asbestos management assurance process will be published in the spring next year.”

Fears of knock-on effects for school asbestos funding

The extension of the survey has led to fears that the results won’t be released early enough to influence next year’s comprehensive spending review, which will determine the amount of money to be received by schools from 2020.

Labour MP and chair of the parliamentary public accounts committee, Meg Hillier, has repeatedly voiced concerns about the prevalence of schools-based asbestos.

On Monday, she urged ministers to make more funding available to address the issue, commenting: “The problem with publishing this long-awaited information in the spring is that this is likely to be too late to properly influence the spending review.

“Given that 85% of schools have asbestos and the risks are getting greater as those buildings age, will the minister make a serious commitment to providing the funding to schools to tackle that asbestos, otherwise there’s no real incentive for them to come up with a plan, given the pinch on their budgets?”

Gibb replied by referring to existing capital funding pots that schools could use for maintenance, including tackling asbestos in their buildings. He added that 68% of the 17,000 schools that had responded to the survey so far were found to be “assured by the appropriate responsible body”.

The complete consultancy for your asbestos needs

Could your organisation stand to benefit from such independent and respected services of ours as asbestos awareness training, asbestos management surveys or asbestos compliance checks?

If so, it couldn’t be easier to get in touch with the Trident Asbestos Solutions team to request a competitive quotation, by calling 03333 441555.

Manchester landlord narrowly avoids prison after asbestos breaches

The owner of a commercial property in the Northern Quarter in Manchester has been handed a six-month jail sentence suspended for two years, in another indication of the potential consequences for those who fail to take measures to minimise the risk of asbestos exposure in their buildings.

A signal of the continued importance of safe asbestos removals

As reported by the Manchester Evening News, Whaid Ahmed was hauled before Manchester Magistrates’ Court after a routine Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspection at 1-3 Stevenson Square, where the eateries Slice Pizzeria and Chai Latte occupy the ground floor.

The developer was prosecuted in relation to health and safety breaches that occurred during refurbishment work at the property, which began more than five years ago.

The court heard that action was taken against him on the basis of his failure to check whether asbestos was present in the well-known building prior to the commencement of work in April 2012.

Large quantities of the potentially lethal substance were discovered in the building by an HSE inspector, some of it in very poor condition.

HSE said this indicated the possibility of previous asbestos removals without any controls in place from already-renovated areas of the building.

The body’s investigation found that Ahmed did not identify the risks involved in dealing with such potentially harmful fibres, and failed to implement appropriate measures to prevent workers coming into contact with it.

It added that with enforcement action having previously been taken against Ahmed in relation to a similar issue, he should have been “well aware of his duties under the law”.

What consequences did the offender face?

 Ahmed, of Hale Barns, Altrincham, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 5(a), 11(1)(a) and 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

His six-month prison sentence was suspended for two years, and he was also ordered by magistrates to complete 250 hours’ unpaid work and pay £5,742.14 in costs.

HSE inspector Matt Greenly commented after the hearing: “This case highlights the importance of surveying a property for asbestos to prevent risk to anyone occupying or working in that building and to reduce the risk of exposure to asbestos and contracting incurable diseases as a result of that exposure.”

If you are concerned about the dangers that the sometimes fatal material could pose to people using your own organisation’s premises, you can learn more about our widely trusted asbestos removals, surveying and other services by calling the Trident Asbestos Solutions team now, on 03333 441555.

We have offices across the UK – including in Edinburgh, Sunderland, Durham, Leeds, Birmingham and London – and the sooner you contact us, the sooner we can get back to you with a competitive quotation for any of our acclaimed and comprehensive services.

“Fit and well” 33-year-old Oxford woman dies of asbestos-related cancer

In a very tragic case, a medical researcher recently died of mesothelioma at the age of 33, despite having no obvious history of exposure to asbestos, the usual cause of this form of cancer. However, it has been suggested that even brief exposure could have been responsible.

Rose Wharton, a Cambridge-born medical statistician, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in September 2017 and died of the disease at her Oxford residence on 20th May. Coroner Darren Salter said the case was “very unusual” and that he had never seen another like it.

A “very different” instance of death from mesothelioma

The peculiarity of this case stems from the fact that, as reported by the NHS, mesothelioma is typically only diagnosed in people between the ages of 60 and 80. The illness tends to only develop in people with a decades-long history of working with asbestos.

However, given the lack of obvious signs that Ms Wharton was ever exposed to asbestos, Mr Salter commented to Oxford Coroner’s Court: “Mesothelioma normally affects men working as plumbers or heating engineers for 30 or 40 years, but this is very different from that.”

Uncertainty lingers about the cause of the disease

In a statement to the hearing, Ms Wharton’s family said that the otherwise “fit and healthy” young woman could only possibly have been exposed to asbestos when she built a school in Argentina 15 years ago, as an 18-year-old student on her gap year.

However, with the definite source of the asbestos exposure unconfirmed, Mr Salter recorded a narrative verdict, stating that the cancer’s cause was unknown. Ms Wharton, who worked at the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Oxford, was said to have been “fit and well” before the diagnosis, with asthma her only medical problem.

For your reassurance, we can test for signs of asbestos

In this instance, the materials with which Ms Wharton built the school in Argentina could have contained asbestos and, therefore, eventually led the cancer to develop. The microscopic fibres of asbestos can become lodged in the lungs and so damage them over time.

In the UK, the use of asbestos was entirely banned in 1999. However, the tragic story of this potentially asbestos-related death highlights the importance of asbestos air testing and similar services, as we can provide safely and efficiently here at Trident Asbestos Solutions.

Simply call our team now, on 03333 441555, for your competitive quotation.

‘400 Britons die each year’ due to asbestos in schools

Any research pointing to the continued pressing need for asbestos awareness training and removal services is always greatly saddening, but also necessary, given persistent perceptions in some quarters that asbestos-related disease ‘only’ affects those who have worked in construction or industrial environments.

The truth is that even seemingly ‘low-risk’ workplaces can still pose a danger of breathing in or other direct contact with the lethal fibres that could later develop into a deadly condition.

This has been demonstrated most recently by figures indicating that almost 400 people die of lung cancer in the UK each year as a consequence of exposure to asbestos at school – whether as a former pupil or teacher.

How have these numbers been determined?

 Figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that 40 teachers or support staff die from the asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma, each year, with cases having increased by a third between 2015 and 2016.

Meanwhile, a study undertaken by the American Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that for every school staff member who dies, nine ex-pupils can also be expected to pass away.

This means that there could be about 360 people a year losing their lives due to asbestos they encountered as a pupil at a British school.

As reported by the Daily Express, due to the several decades that it typically requires for asbestos-related disease to develop after the sufferer’s initial contact with the harmful fibres, most cases – albeit not all – do not become apparent and diagnosed until teachers and pupils have left the school.

It is largely because of this that mesothelioma remains responsible for about 2,400 deaths in the UK annually, despite the substance having been banned on these shores in 1999.

Concerns expressed about the lingering risk in educational buildings

Despite such haunting figures, there is no obligation for schools to inform parents of the potential presence of asbestos in their child’s school. The law in this regard differs from the situation for employers, who do have to tell their employees if there is any risk of exposure to asbestos, in addition to being required to protect their workers from coming into contact with the material.

As said by one parent to the BBC’s regional Inside Out programme, in reference to their child’s school in Cumbria being temporarily closed due to the discovery of asbestos: “You expect to send your children to school for them to be safe in the building they’re in.

“You assume everything is managed correctly and if an asbestos disturbance has taken place, it’s acted on immediately – which in this instance, it doesn’t seem to be the case. It could have been there for months.”

Official HSE advice describes schools as “low-risk” for asbestos contact, adding that the substance is safe provided that it is contained, properly managed and left undisturbed.

Nonetheless, for many parents, former pupils, teachers, support staff and their loved ones, such figures as the above point to asbestos awareness training, surveys, air monitoring and related services continuing to play a vital role in ensuring the safety of school building users for many more years to come.

Contact the Trident Asbestos Solutions team today, on 03333 441555, to receive a competitive quote for any of our acclaimed asbestos services.

Asbestos-exposed builder who once worked at the BBC’s Lime Grove Studios dies

It greatly saddened our asbestos removals team here at Trident Asbestos Solutions to learn of the passing of another victim of contact with this lethal substance – this time Cyril Augustine, an erstwhile builder who at one point worked at the BBC’s now-defunct Lime Grove Studios.

As reported by the Croydon Advertiser, the 82-year-old was admitted to Croydon University Hospital on 5th March this year with “a shortness of breath and a heavy cough”, receiving care there for six weeks before dying of metastatic mesothelioma, so-named due to cancer cells having travelled through his body from large tumours in his left lung.

Mr Augustine’s death is just the latest in a long line of tragedies reminding us of the continued pressing importance of asbestos removals in the UK. However, he was also able to reflect with pride on a distinguished career in Britain since arriving here from the Caribbean island of Dominica in 1960.

A high level of contact with asbestos over almost 30 years

 Mr Augustine worked as a builder on a largely self-employed basis over nearly three decades, and closely encountered asbestos on many occasions during his career – including at the famous BBC TV and film studios, where he was required to cut through and fit asbestos sheets.

As explained in a written statement by his daughter Christina at South London Coroner’s Court, “he did this also while working for housing associations doing repairs and maintenance throughout the 1970s and 1980s, working with asbestos with no health and safety.

“He would work with asbestos in old chimney places, floors, partitioned walls and also worked for the Clapham Road Housing Association carrying out repairs, maintenance and general building work which had some exposure to asbestos on these jobs as well.”

Even in his first job in the UK for Robert Hart & Sons in 1960, Mr Augustine was required to cut asbestos sheets and attach them to doors to make them fireproof.

“No doubt in the evidence”

 The husband and father – latterly of Marlow Road, Penge – was diagnosed with the disease in August 2015, and also received treatment at the Princess Royal University Hospital in Orpington in 2017.

Recording the death as industrial disease, Dr William Dolman, assistant coroner, commented: “The post-mortem indicated a wider spread of cancer in the form of metastatic mesothelioma. He had clear contact with asbestos as most cases like this do.

“There is no doubt in the evidence with his daughter’s statement and his employment he was exposed when carrying out building work.

“The date of the contact was in the 1960s and latterly in the 1970s and 1980s, that’s still a 30-year period where the malignant developed which killed him before it was identified and diagnosed.”

 

The BBC purchased Lime Grove Studios in 1949 as a “temporary measure” until Television Centre – now also disposed of by the corporation – was ready. The broadcaster continued to use the buildings until 1991, and they were demolished in 1993.

Call 03333 441555 today for an in-depth discussion about our asbestos removals consultancy and other services that could be instrumental in keeping the users and occupants of your buildings safe from the potentially toxic effects of asbestos.

Asbestos removal required at historic former Birmingham bank

A key historic building in Birmingham – a city where Trident Asbestos Solutions also has an office – has been revealed to be riddled with asbestos, which will need to be removed before intended redevelopment of the site can take place.

As reported by the BirminghamLive website, the Grade II-listed former headquarters of the Birmingham Municipal Bank was purchased by the University of Birmingham in 2016, amid plans for the landmark building to be transformed into a city-centre exhibition venue.

However, it has now become known that the university has filed a planning application with the city council for internal works to the Broad Street building, stating that the structure contains “extensive asbestos”.

Reflecting on a rich and fascinating past 

When the bank’s headquarters was constructed in the 1930s to a design by renowned Midlands architect Thomas Cecil Howitt of Nottingham, it formed part of a grander masterplan for Centenary Square that entailed the removal of homes, factories and canal wharves to free up room for a purpose-built open public space.

The area is now being reinvigorated once more, and there are hopes that the former bank building will play a major role as a cafe, gallery, seminar rooms and research spaces for the university.

Having been opened by the late brother-in-law of Prince Philip – Prince George William of Hanover – in November 1933, the building was occupied until 1998. Along the way, the bank had ceased to be a department of the local authority in 1976, and was privatised in 1995.

A planning document submitted by London-based Make Architects emphasised the bank’s importance, stating that it was “fondly remembered in Birmingham as a symbol of the strong municipal self-sufficiency that has defined the city historically.”

A vital development at a momentous time

The university has previously stated about its plans for the building: “Our aim is to reopen the much-loved banking hall and vaults to the public, with a programme of exhibitions, events and learning activities created with the community and bringing our research to life for the city’s residents and visitors.

“We are also looking to develop a series of meeting and work spaces on the upper floors to host student entrepreneurs, research groups and training courses.”

As local specialists in asbestos awareness training, air testing, management surveys and related services, here at Trident Asbestos Solutions, we are excited about the bank building’s impending new lease of life, and can’t wait to see how development proceeds over the coming years.

In the meantime, if your organisation requires the assurance of working with the most reputable experts in asbestos management and removal, you are welcome to contact us for a quote, by calling 03333 441 555.

Asbestos removal to at Redcar’s iconic Regent Cinema

With one of our regional offices here at Trident Asbestos Solutions being based in the North East, we always take a keen interest in any local developments affirming the continued importance of services like ours, which range from asbestos removal contractor audits to asbestos surveys, air monitoring, project management and advice.

One announcement that greatly saddened us earlier this year was that of the sudden closure of the Regent Cinema on the seafront of the North Yorkshire town of Redcar. The manager of one of Teesside’s oldest and most-loved cinemas confirmed in April that the decision had been made to shut the venue “for the foreseeable future” due to structural problems.

Since then, work has been underway to save the building, amid hopes that the closure will not be a permanent one – and the sensitive removal of asbestos is a key focus.

Playing a distinguished role in local history

Generations of residents of the North East town have grown up with the Regent Cinema as a familiar landmark. Built as the New Pavilion over the entrance of the now-defunct Coatham Pier in 1928, it was for many years a successful music hall and repertory theatre, hosting such acts as “Britain’s first boy band”, the Dallas Boys, and Billy Breen – an early stage-name of comedy legend Larry Grayson.

Indeed, it is thought that Grayson’s catchphrase, “shut that door!”, originated in the town when he uttered it in response to wind from the sea blowing across the stage due to a side door having been left open.

It later became a cinema, and has been run by Neil Bates since the early 1990s. In 2007, ‘The Regent’ – as it is locally known – even became a movie star in its own right, appearing in Atonement, which also starred Keira Knightley and James McAvoy.

Manager still committed amid “frustrating situation”

Local newspaper The Northern Echo reported on Tuesday that work to remove asbestos from the cinema had now been commissioned, and was expected to start in the coming weeks.

Cabinet member at Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council for culture, tourism and communications, Carl Quartermain, said professionals were being engaged “to remove the asbestos in a secure way. Care has been taken to ensure the boards at The Regent don’t take away from the look and feel of our fantastic seafront.”

Bates commented: “It’s a frustrating situation but I remain committed to cinema in our borough. We’re hoping that temporary alternative venues to show films might be found while the required ongoing work is carried out at The Regent.”

We certainly hope here at Trident Asbestos Solutions that this vital asbestos removal work will be successful, and that this beloved landmark can return to use as a cinema in the near future. In the meantime, if your own organisation is in need of the most dependable asbestos removal contractor audits or related services, you are welcome to seek a quote from us by calling 03333 441555.

Discovery of asbestos adds £1.5m to the cost of work on Tamar Bridge

Critical maintenance on a major southwest England road bridge has just become even more expensive, with the news of an “unexpected discovery” of asbestos necessitating expenditure of £1.5m to put right.

The harmful material was found on Tamar Bridge in March, and meant a seven-week delay to work on the suspension system. Specialists have been brought in to implement safety measures at the bridge, where bolts are being replaced.

What do we know about the potentially dangerous fibres?

 According to Plymouth’s Herald newspaper, a report going to the Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry joint committee revealed: “Work was suspended while laboratory tests on the material were undertaken. The test results confirmed that the material was an asbestos containing material (ACM) and, as required under current legislation, the Health and Safety Executive were notified.

The report added that the material was found in the joints between the two halves of each cable band clamped around the main cable and supporting each vertical hanger cable. While the reasons for the ACM’s use when the bridge was being built between 1959 and 1961 are unknown, “it is presumed to have been considered a cheap and readily available packaging material to take up any irregularities in the castings of the cable bands prior to the application of joint sealant.”

An already-hefty bill made even greater

 The report said that overall costs had increased due to the delay caused by the halt of work and the expense of the required safety measures, meaning the final bill would now be £7.5m, instead of the initial £6m.

The contractor is said to have switched to 24-hour working to accommodate the delay and get the job done, with it now being hoped that the works will be complete by October, subject to weather conditions.

Approval for the additional funding will need to be given by the Cabinets and full councils of Cornwall Council and Plymouth City Council. The money would be provided through borrowing over 25 years.

The report to the committee said that in the absence of approval for such funding, termination of the works would be necessary.

It explained: “The works are critical to ensure the resilience of the suspension system and significant costs have already been incurred developing access arrangements and working methods. The works will need to be completed in the near future. Significant abortive costs would be associated with such termination.”

Get in touch with us about site audits and asbestos removals

 With our complete range of services here at Trident Asbestos Solutions including asbestos management surveys, testing/sampling, air monitoring, site audits for asbestos removal contractors and many others, we can be your organisation’s go-to provider of asbestos expertise.

Call our team today, on 03333 441555, for a competitive quote.

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