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  • Leeds

Council bosses in Leeds could be faced with a £100,000 compensation bill amid claims a former worker died after inhaling deadly asbestos while playing table tennis on her break.

The YEP understands the family of Sheila Dobson have launched the legal action after she allegedly breathed in the lethal substance while working for the authority 45 years ago.

The action could open the floodgates for more compensation battles if other staff are found to have contracted the killer lung condition, mesothelioma.

Mrs Dobson, who worked at the council’s Youth Employment Office between 1967 and 1971, died from the rare form of cancer in October 2009, aged 59.

Her family say while working at the council offices at the junction of Great George Street and Calverley Street, she would visit the canteen in the basement, where she would play table tennis with her co-workers during tea and lunch breaks.

The claim, which has been lodged with London’s Royal Courts of Justice, says: “There was a boiler and pipework which was lagged with asbestos based insulation.

“The lagging was in poor condition.

“Significant quantities of respirable asbestos fibres and dust were shed from the lagging as a result of vibration, physical contact and air movement within the basement.”

The claim, issued by relatives, who live in east Leeds, alleges Mrs Dobson was never warned about exposure to asbestos or given any protective equipment.

She first developed symptoms of the industrial lung disease in November 2007, when she developed a chest pain which gradually worsened.

In 2009, she underwent radiotherapy but died later that year.

The claim is for in excess of £50,000 in damages. The YEP understands this could rise to anything up to £100,000 depending on the court’s decision.

A spokeswoman for Leeds City Council told the YEP: “As this is an ongoing legal issue we are unable to comment at this stage.”

Source: Yorkshire Evening Post

  • Hebridean Princess

A ship management firm and a tour operator have been fined after workers were exposed to asbestos fibres during refurbishment work on board a luxury cruise ship operating in Scotland.

Andrew Weir Shipping and All Leisure Holidays were prosecuted after work was carried out on the Hebridean Princess.

Two men were hired to remove panels and fixings in a ship lounge without an asbestos survey being carried out.

 

The firms pleaded guilty to regulation breaches at Teesside Magistrates Court.

The court was told the Hebridean Princess, whose routes include the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland, was bought in April 2009 by All Leisure Holidays.

The tour operator took on Edinburgh-based Andrew Weir Shipping to manage the vessel.

Asbestos concerns

In December of that year, two labourers were instructed by Andrew Weir Shipping to begin removing the ceiling and wall panels in the Tiree Lounge while the ship was docked in Middlesbrough.

On the second day, they were told by the shipyard to stop work over concerns there was asbestos behind the ceiling panels.

Tests confirmed asbestos fibres were present.

The Health and Safety Executive found that Andrew Weir Shipping held an asbestos survey from 2008 which identified asbestos behind some ceiling panels in another part of the ship.

The court heard this should have alerted them to the potential for asbestos to be present elsewhere.

All Leisure Holidays Ltd was given a copy of the 2008 survey when they purchased the ship but failed to identify that it was incomplete and was insufficient to allow the work to be carried out.

Guilty pleas

Andrew Weir Shipping, of Atholl Crescent, Edinburgh, was fined a total of £12,000 and ordered to pay £5,829 costs after pleading guilty to breaching the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.

All Leisure Holidays Ltd, of Burgess Hill, West Sussex, also pleaded guilty and was fined a total of £6,000 and ordered to pay £5,640 costs.

After the case, HSE Inspector Victoria Wise, said: “All Leisure Holidays Ltd and Andrew Weir Shipping Ltd both failed to ensure that a suitable and sufficient assessment was made of the risk created by the presence of asbestos and therefore did not take the steps required in order to comply with the regulations.

“As a result the two men inadvertently disturbed the asbestos and spread the fibres. In doing so they were potentially exposed to a substance that is known to cause diseases such as lung cancer and mesothelioma.”

Source: BBC News 

  • Cwmcarn school asbestos

A school closed after asbestos was found has been taken over by its governors.

The 900-pupil Cwmcarn High School in Caerphilly county closed suddenly in October after a structural report identified asbestos in the main block.

Parents have expressed concern at its long term closure but the school’s foundation status means governors can assume full control of the premises.

Caerphilly council expressed its “concern and disappointment”.

The school governors have been asked to comment.

The council said a separate, independent investigation into asbestos management at the school was being carried out by the Health and Safety Executive, and would continue.

It said the governing body would now “take full responsibility and liability for the site”, and “plans by the council to commission a full and thorough asbestos survey have now been thwarted by the actions of the school governors”.

Council leader Harry Andrews said: “Our main priority has always been the health and wellbeing of pupils and staff at the school.

“We took swift and decisive action when the scale of the asbestos problem was identified and we planned to undertake further investigations to discover the full extent of the problem before agreeing a way forward.

 

“Unfortunately, the governing body have now frustrated this process by insisting that they take full responsibility of the site, as is their right as a foundation school, but we wanted to work with them to try and resolve this issue as quickly as possible.”

He added: “We will be writing to parents and staff explaining the implications of this decision.

“Our key responsibility remains the welfare and education of the pupils and we will be closely monitoring the governors’ actions at the school.

“Parents can rest assured that the council will not allow any pupils to return to a building that poses any health risk to their children.”

The school closed after a structural report identified asbestos in the main block, and students are being educated at Coleg Gwent’s Ebbw Vale campus for the rest of the school year.

The report said asbestos in the roof may have been blown by the heating system and airborne fibres were 10 times higher than the accepted levels.

The union Unison said at the time that demolition was the safest option for staff and pupils.

The survey revealed the building “poses potential serious risk to health” and should be demolished, as recommended by a previous inspection.

The school’s website carries a petition from a parent support group, which says: “This document will be used to petition Caerphilly County Council and the Welsh Assembly Government for guarantees that our school ‘Cwmcarn High’ will NOT close indefinitely.”

The Welsh government ordered all schools to report on asbestos levels.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-20618055  

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