A NHS Trust has been fined after contractors were unknowingly exposed to asbestos during maintenance work.
The incident happened at Sunderland Eye Infirmary in March 2012. The contractors drilled through the door surrounds of a ward to install cables. However, a member of staff at the Infirmary raised concerns that the door surrounds were made of asbestos insulating board.
Asbestos insulating board is not dangerous unless it is damaged or disturbed. This then causes the asbestos fibres to be released into the air, which is a health risk.
The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive, who found that the Control of Asbestos Regulations had been broken. This was because City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust did not inform the contractors that there was asbestos in the door surrounds. This was despite the fact that the Trust had an asbestos survey which highlighted the presence of asbestos.
City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust pleaded guilty to breaking Control of Asbestos Regulations at court last week and were fined £3,000.
Workers exposed to asbestos can go on to suffer serious health issues such as mesothelioma later in life.