NHS Trust sentenced following employee and contractor asbestos exposure during refurbishment work

An NHS trust has been fined £16,000 over failures surrounding the discovery of asbestos at one of its hospitals.

The case focused on builders’ renovations for Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Hospitals Trust (SaTH) in 2012.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said workers’ exposure to asbestos was a “potentially lethal risk” SaTH failed to control.

The Trust pleaded guilty to health and safety breaches on Wednesday and said “nobody came to harm”.

At Telford Magistrates Court, SaTH was also ordered to pay costs of more than £18,000.

The HSE says asbestos-related diseases are linked to 5,000 deaths a year in the UK. Exposure is commonly linked to lung disease and also to mesothelioma, according to Cancer Research.

Fears of asbestos exposure at SaTH were first raised by Les Small, a project manager in the estates department.

His concerns regarded renovation work in nursing accommodation at The Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

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He lost his job after raising his fears, but later won £50,000 damages after a tribunal found he was unlawfully fired.

Following the ruling, the HSE said SaTH had “failed to take adequate measures to deal with the initial release of asbestos, exposing other contractors who later worked in the flat”.

The watchdog also found materials containing asbestos were not properly recorded by SaTH, and once it was discovered, the trust’s actions were “inadequate”.

A SaTH spokesperson said that although asbestos-related policies were in place, “they were not always being followed”.

She said there was now a “much more robust approach to asbestos management across the trust”.