University of Lincoln fined £22k for asbestos failings

The University of Lincoln was fined £10,000 for not dealing with asbestos on its campus and ordered to pay £12,760 in costs to the Health and Safety Executive.

The failings came to light in February 2010, when a lecturer became trapped in a room after a door lock broke. Once she was freed, debris around the door handle was noticed.

It was revealed that the university didn’t act on two reports about asbestos (in 2006 and 2007) in several of its buildings, including Chad Varah House off Drury Lane.

Inspector for the HSE, Edward Walker, explained members of staff as well as students and contractors were put at risk.

“The university clearly failed to manage the risks associated with these materials, they had a plan in place but failed to implement that plan.”

At Lincoln Magistrates’ Court, the University of Lincoln pleaded guilty to counts of breaching the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 Act.

Barrister for the university, Neil Cameron, told the court he could not explain why no remedial work was carried out after the first reports.

Cameron said: “Responsibility fell between two departments, Health and Safety and Estate Managements, and two members of Estates faced a disciplinary but have since resigned.”

The HSE was happy with the university’s involvement with their investigation since it was reported to them in 2010, and agreed with new safety measures put in place.

Walker said: “The university have cooperated fully with the HSE investigation and have taken extensive remedial action since the incident.”

A Compliance Officer post has now been created at the university as a result of the investigation and all of the university’s estates have been surveyed with revised procedures put in place.

Fines of up to £25,000 could have been issued but the court took into account a prompt guilty plea, the university’s previous record and the efforts to put new measures in place.

Photo: Dominic Clark for The Lincolnite | Related Reports: BBC Lincolnshire, The Linc