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Workers potentially exposed to asbestos in girls' school in

Potentially lethal asbestos has been discovered at Willingham Girls' School, an
independent school in Caterham.
This health and safety issue led to Buton Building Contractors !td facing a prosecution
in Guildford "agistrates' Court on #anuary $%
&'$(, in )hich it admitted breaching the
*ealth and Safety at Wor+ etc ,ct $-.( and received a /ne of 01',''' )ith costs of
The court heard that the asbestos )as discovered in the school's basement. Buton
Building Contractors !td )as refurbishing the school's +itchen and dining area )hen it
commissioned a specialist asbestos survey. ,lthough asbestos )as found in the
building's under croft area 3 an area that had been missed from previous asbestos
surveys 3 the /rm failed to act on this information.
,llo)ing un4uali/ed and untrained sta5 to )or+ on areas in )hich asbestos has been
discovered is a breach of health and safety la)s, and it )as discovered that the
company had allo)ed a teenage apprentice electrician and a number of other
contractors to access the area, )ith the electrician )or+ing in the undercroft for at least
one fortnight.
, subse4uent investigation by the *S6 revealed that the company had not acted on the
asbestos survey or provided any appropriate health and safety safeguards to )or+ers
on3site. *o)ever, )hen the )or+er discovered the asbestos boards, a licensed
contractor sealed o5 the area.
Asbestos health and safety failings
7ollo)ing the hearing, *S6 8nspector "elvyn Stancli5e remar+ed on the company's
9serious failing9.
*e said it appears that although Buton Building Contractors !td commissioned an
asbestos survey, it appears that nobody read the survey, or that anyone )ho did read
the survey neglected to adhere to its contents, therefore failing to protect on3site
)or+ers from one of the construction industry's 9deadly +illers9.
Because of these health and safety failings, there is a chance that people may end up
ma+ing an industrial illness claim against the company. "r Stancli5e said that many
individuals, including the $-3year3old apprentice electrician, could have potentially
inhaled asbestos /bres, epressing his hope that this eposure does not lead to 9serious
conse4uences9 for the eposed employees in the future.
,sbestos can cause damage to the lungs, and can cause a range of health conditions,
some of )hich can be serious. These include:
3 "esothelioma
3 !ung cancer
3 ,sbestosis
3 Pleural thic+ening
3 Pleural pla4ues
These illnesses can take many years or even several decades to appear. People who wish to make a
personal injury claim against the employer that exposed them to asbestos may not be able to locate
the liable party after several decades. A range of different schemes can help people with asbestos-
related conditions claim compensation, such as the diffuse mesothelioma payments scheme.
Carol is a writer and she writes for Cash advance solicitors, healthcare issue and accident at work
compensation, she lives in London.