Schools trust fined £35,000 for disturbing asbestos

The Williamson Trust, which runs some schools in the Medway area of Kent, authorised construction work at The Hundred of Hoo Academy without consulting the asbestos register; the contractor was also fined

The Hundred of Hoo
The Hundred of Hoo

A charitable trust has been told to pay £35,000 by the Health and Safety Executive for disturbing asbestos and continuing construction work on a school building.

The Williamson Trust, which runs several schools in the Medway area of Kent, contracted Mark Tucker to refurbish the English, humanities and media block at The Hundred of Hoo Academy near Rochester.

According to a statement from the HSE, Chatham Magistrates’ Court heard last week that in July 2012 the trust carried out work to refurbish the building without consulting the asbestos register the charity kept.

The trust also failed to complete a refurbishment and demolition survey and failed to ensure the contractors had the asbestos information they required, the HSE said.

The Williamson Trust pleaded guilty to a breach of section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £18,000 plus costs of £17,000.

Tucker, of Chatham, Kent, pleaded guilty to breaking regulation 13 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and was fined £9,000 and ordered to pay costs of £8,000.

A spokesman for the Williamson Trust said: "We regret that this incident occurred in 2012. An expert’s report presented to the court said the risk of exposure to the small number of people on site at the time was very low to insignificant. It is also important to point out that this work was carried out during school holidays when no children and teaching staff were at school.

"We have learned from this experience and, as well as cooperating fully with the Health and Safety Executive during this case, have improved, robust and effective safety procedures in place to ensure this isolated incident is not repeated.

"The school spent a considerable sum in 2012 to ensure the affected area was cleared."

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