A Liverpool NHS Trust has been fined £10,000 after failing to protect its workers from encountering potentially-deadly asbestos fibres.

The Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust was prosecuted and fined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after asbestos fibres were found in the basement of its offices at Derwent House on London Road in January 2013.

Liverpool Magistrates’ Court heard that the organisation had failed to act on a survey carried out in 2006 which identified that an area of the basement may contain asbestos, and recommended that its condition should be properly assessed.

An investigation carried out by the Health and Safety Executive found that workers had regularly been visiting the basement to access patient records.

The risk was finally highlighted on 9 January 2013 when the NHS Trust’s health and safety manager noticed that the doors to an out-of-use goods lift in the basement were damaged. The lift doors contained asbestos, which meant there was a risk of exposure to those entering the basement.

A subsequent survey found that asbestos fibres were present in several different areas of the basement.

The Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust, of Prescot Street in Liverpool, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £696 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 on 26 February 2015.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Imran Siddiqui said:

“Around 4,000 people die every year as a result of breathing in asbestos fibres, making it the biggest single cause of work-related deaths in the UK.

“It’s therefore vital that organisations take the risks from asbestos seriously. The Trust, in line with the 2006 survey, should have assumed asbestos was present in an area of the basement and taken appropriate action to make it safe for people working there.

“Instead, workers were allowed to regularly visit the basement to access patient files increasing the risk of exposure to the potentially-deadly fibres.”

Widely used as a building material in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, asbestos becomes dangerous if disturbed and the fibres are then released. Airborne fibres can become lodged in the lungs or digestive tract and can lead to lung cancer or other diseases, but symptoms may not appear for 15-50 years.

If you or a family member have been affected by exposure to asbestos, please contact us today on Freephone 0800 294 3065 where we can help, support and advise you in the best way possible.