Health Chiefs Criticised for Failing to Act on Asbestos; ADEQUATE PROCEDURES STILL NOT ADOPTED BY CWM TAF
HEALTH chiefs have been criticised for failing to properly protect NHS staff from exposure to asbestos in hospitals. Cwm Taf Health Board has been given until the end of February to ensure it has adequate procedures in place to protect staff and implement its own asbestos management plan.
The three improvement notices, issued by the Health and Safety Executive, are the latest developments in the longrunning problem of asbestos in hospitals run by the board, which has previously seen three senior NHS managers suspended.
It comes as another hospital - Ysbyty Glan Clwyd in North Wales - is preparing to shut down six of its operating theatres for 14 months to remove asbestos.
One of the three improvement notices states Cwm Taf Health Board is contravening the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and the Health and Safety at Work Act because it has "failed to manage the risks from asbestos in non-domestic premises where you have a responsibility for the maintenance or repair and/or control of the said premises".
And a letter to the board from Janet Viney, an inspector for health and safety, said it was "obviously disappointing" Cwm Taf Health Board still did not have adequate procedures in place to implement its asbestos management plan 18 months after an earlier visit by another inspector.
Another improvement notice - to be complied with by May - relates to ensuring managers, supervisors and others working in areas where asbestos exposure is likely are trained in the contents of the plan and its procedures.
The final notice requires the health board to monitor compliance with the asbestos management plan.
Failure to comply with these notices could result in prosecution and a maximum fine of pounds 20,000.
The notices come 18 months after the health board promised to improve protection for staff following an "asbestos incident".
And three senior managers were suspended in 2009 for allegedly taking no action to deal with the potentially lethal substance despite warnings. One, who had been suspended on full pay, was allowed to take early retirement a day before a disciplinary hearing.
Andrea Jones, Unite regional officer, said: "Unite members feel the issues they have raised have not been fully investigated and those identified by the HSE still need addressing. …