Aug 15 2012 by Kaiya Marjoribanks, Stirling Observer Wednesday
COUNCIL caretakers were exposed to asbestos while cleaning up a boiler room in Old Viewforth .
The Health and Safety Executive is said to be carrying out an investigation after the employees were set to work on an area which had been earmarked as an asbestos risk for almost a decade.
Stirling Council’s health and safety panel will be updated on the incident later this week.
In a report due before the panel officials say: “Asbestos is present in many of the council’s buildings.
“The location of the asbestos was identified in a comprehensive survey carried out in 2003. Management surveys take place annually to confirm that the status of the asbestos is unchanged.
“A management survey of the boiler room in the basement of Old Viewforth in spring 2012 reported that the asbestos had deteriorated and that there were loose particles of asbestos. This was classed as a high-priority risk, with the asbestos having to be removed when reasonably practicable.
“Access to the boiler room and basement were forbidden but before receipt of the report the council’s caretakers had been asked to clean up the boiler room, which had been untidy, and this involved sweeping the floor.
“The employees involved have been offered occupational health appointments and arrangements have been made for the removal of the asbestos.
“However, this incident had to be reported to the Health and Safety Executive and they are currently carrying out an investigation into the incident.
“At the same time our procedures are being reviewed to ensure that the register of asbestos is available to any operative carrying out work in areas where asbestos is present and that all works in the area are recorded, including the removal of asbestos.
Past exposure to asbestos currently kills around 4000 people a year in Great Britain, with the number expected to go on rising at least until 2016. It is impossible to tell whether a material contains asbestos by sight alone and it can only be confirmed by laboratory analysis of a sample.
Blue and brown asbestos were banned in 1985.
According to advice issued by Stirling Council: “Anyone who uses our buildings, contractors or our housing maintenance employees, who disturbs asbestos that has deteriorated or been damaged and is releasing fibres is at risk.
“As long as asbestos is in good condition and is not being or going to be disturbed or damaged there is no risk.”
Stirling Council recently received a claim from a former Stirling County Council employee in respect of mesothelioma arising from exposure to asbestos while employed between 1966 and 1969.
Malignant mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is often caused by exposure to asbestos.