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£34k fine for company after Newmarket College pupils and staff asbestos exposure

PUBLISHED: 09:00 15 May 2015

Asbestos waste

Asbestos waste

A company has been ordered to pay more than £34,000 after “inexcusably” exposing pupils, teachers and staff at Newmarket Academy to potentially deadly asbestos.

South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court heard that in July 2012, during works on what was then called Newmarket College, contractors disturbed the carcinogenic asbestos while removing a wall.

The work on improving the school’s science block was being sub-contracted by laboratory design and installation specialist Labform.

The Cheshire firm was prosecuted after an investigation found the company had not arranged for a detailed survey to be undertaken, as required by law.

They were fined £22,400 and ordered to pay £11,741 in costs after pleading guilty to four breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

Headteacher Nick Froy, who was deputy headteacher at the time, welcomed the company admitting guilt.

He said: “It is good to have a conclusion to this after all this time. It has been many years.”

However, he stressed that Newmarket Academy, which has been state controlled since 2013, is a separate entity to the college, which no longer exists.

Suffolk County Council were responsible for the school at the time of exposure but were unable to comment yesterday.

The prosecution was brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and was heard in court on Tuesday.

HSE Inspector David King said: “Exposure to asbestos fibres is a serious and well known health risk, so it is essential that duty-holders take suitable and sufficient measures to prevent the disturbance, spread and exposure to asbestos.

“Failing to take action to identify asbestos while planning work, and to ensure that any contractors who may disturb asbestos are aware of the location and type of asbestos present, and not taking appropriate measures to protect the health of others, is totally inexcusable.”

The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to prevent death, injury and ill health.

Around 4,500 people die every year as a result of breathing in asbestos fibres, making it the biggest single cause of work-related deaths in the country.

The symptoms may not appear for several decades, with the fibres causing lung cancer among other deadly and debilitating conditions.

Companies found responsible for exposing people to asbestos are often liable for costs of future healthcare.

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