An Essex school has been fined after poorly-planned and managed refurbishment activities exposed staff and contractors to asbestos.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard that managers at the school in Chelmsford decided to convert an old boiler room at the school into a cleaning store. During the course of this work, asbestos residue on the walls was disturbed and caretakers swept contaminated debris from floors. Their exposure to risk of asbestos exposure only came to light after a later asbestos survey was completed in the area.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated this incident and learned that asbestos containing materials (ACMs) were also present in other areas throughout the school.

School caretakers and contractors have been placed at risk as asbestos would have been disturbed during works undertaken over a number of years. The school also failed to ensure that spread of asbestos was prevented or reduced.

The school pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 – Sections 2(1) & 3(1).  The trust was fined £26,000 and ordered to pay costs of £20,000.