Belfast school pleads guilty to asbestos breaches

By Gillian Crotty

A grammar school in Belfast has pleaded guilty to two breaches of health and safety regulations in respect of asbestos management.

The Belfast Crown Court heard that Bloomfield Collegiate only carried out an asbestos survey on the school premises on 21st May 2012, despite the duty to carry out such inspections being introduced 8 years earlier via the Control of Asbestos Regulations (Northern Ireland) Order. Asbestos material was discovered at the preparatory school within the Belfast premises, and a follow up inspection by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found high levels of asbestos fibres in the air and asbestos debris in cupboards.

The preparatory school was used by students from the main school as well as employees of the school. The HSE survey concluded that those who used the building were at risk of asbestos exposure. An appointed representative of the school board of governors of Bloomfield Collegiate, Jill Keery, admitted the two health and safety breaches at Belfast Crown Court. No plea was entered in respect of a third charge of failing to ensure the health and safety of all employees, but is expected next week. Sentencing will take place after that plea has been entered.

Exposure to asbestos can result in serious illnesses such as mesothelioma, though diagnosis can occur many years after the actual contact with asbestos. If you believe you have been exposed to the material at work or in a public place you should request medical advice from your GP in respect of the symptoms to look out for. If you require legal representation to make an asbestos compensation claim in Northern Ireland contact Wilson Nesbitt solicitors in Belfast by calling 0800 840 9289.