A court date has finally been given for the prosecution of Waltham Forest council, on account of an alleged breach of asbestos health and safety regulations.
A government watchdog launched an investigation in 2012 after it was revealed that the local authority was aware of the presence of the potentially deadly substance within Waltham Forest Town Hall, but continued to send staff into the contaminated rooms, which were used to store thousands of documents. Many staff members may have spent protracted amounts of time around the substance, with the affected areas being used from 1984 all the way up to 2012 – a total of almost 30 years.
The council admitted to knowing that three types of asbestos were present in the building, including blue asbestos – the most dangerous variety. It insisted that levels were within government guidelines, but locals remained concerned when it was reported that around 5000 bags of paperwork were going to be destroyed due to their potential contamination.
This was not the first time the authority allegedly failed to protect its citizens from asbestos. In 2010, another investigation indicated that the council had not properly managed or monitored the levels of asbestos in local schools.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will now bring the reportedly responsible council members to prosecution on January 19 at Westminster Magistrates Court.
Asbestos related health complications can take years to develop, but often prove fatal. Many workers exposed to the substance decades ago are now developing mesothelioma, lung cancer or asbestosis, with many companies being ordered to pay substantial amounts of compensation to them or their families.
The unreported existence of the deadly substance in a government building serves to highlight the continued presence of asbestos across the country. Similarly, the upcoming prosecution of council members should act as a sharp reminder of the legal consequences involved in failing to make sure that all premises are fully compliant with appropriate regulations.
If you believe that your home or building may contain asbestos, don’t ignore the problem. Instead, contact Trident Surveying today. We offer professional asbestos surveys in Birmingham and elsewhere in the United Kingdom, and could save you from the moral, financial and legal costs associated with exposure to this often deadly material.