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Deadly asbestos ignored

Hospital failed to deal with substance for more than a decade
Shaun Noble, Monday, October 19th, 2015

More than 20 workers have been exposed to asbestos after the Christie Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester failed to deal with the cancer causing substance – putting staff, patients and visitors at risk.


It was revealed in a report by Asbestos Contracting Limited (ACL) in August 2015 that the hospital’s trust has known about the presence of asbestos for over 10 years. Despite this, the trust continued to issue jobs to workers in areas of the hospital known to management to be contaminated.


Concerns were raised in a second report by Unite representing the affected workers – but no action was taken by the trust.


Unite claims the trust failed to inform employees and did not put any control measures in place to provide a safe working environment. They also failed to maintain an up-to-date asbestos register, monitor the condition of the asbestos on site, and contravened other health and safety breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulation 2012.


The estate staff launched a formal grievance with the trust’s CEO Roger Spencer in February 2014. The investigation into asbestos by the Christie hospital took 18 months – but no apparent disciplinary action was taken against management responsible for breaching health and safety legislation.


Unite is calling for both the facilities manager and the technical manager, responsible for asbestos safety, in the estate department to go before a disciplinary hearing to answer the allegations.


“It is appalling that these workers have been exposed to the cancer causing substance, especially as they were exposed in the world-renowned cancer hospital,” said Unite regional officer Keith Hutson. “The knowledge that they may develop an asbestos-related disease from conducting their duties with trust and good faith has placed a huge burden of stress on the workers and their families.


“The stress is further compounded by the knowledge that they may have inadvertently contaminated patients and their own families with asbestos through the chronic negligence of the Christie Hospital NHS Foundation Trust,” he added.


“The trust’s management failed in its duty to properly manage the risks of asbestos in its premises and, as a result, workers have been exposed to asbestos,” Hutson went on to say. “Unite is calling for both the facilities manager and the technical manager of estates to go before a disciplinary hearing to answer the allegations.”



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