Lincoln University has been fined for putting staff, students and contractors at risk of exposure to asbestos.
The failings came to light on 24 February 2010 when a lecturer became trapped in a room after a door lock broke. She enlisted the help of a colleague to release her and once freed, they noticed debris around the door handle.
They notified the university’s health and safety department which examined the door and others in the area, and discovered most were lined with asbestos insulating board (AIB), and that some were damaged.
The university notified the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which carried out its own investigation. It was found that a number of areas across the university’s estate had been subject to asbestos surveys over a number of years and many areas were found to contain asbestos-containing materials or even asbestos debris, yet no remedial action had been taken.
Lincoln University Higher Education Corporation, of Brayford Pool, Lincoln, pleaded guilty to two counts of breaching Regulation 5(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court today. The university was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £12,759 costs.
After the hearing at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court HSE inspector Edward Walker said:
“Exposure to asbestos fibres is a well known health hazard that results in approximately 4,000 deaths a year.
“The university had an asbestos management plan but had failed to follow it and failed to take appropriate steps to manage the risks associated with asbestos over a number of years, putting staff, students and contractors at risk of potential exposure.”