The IWGB has notified the Health and Safety Executive of a number of breaches in the Control of Asbestos Regulations at the University of London. We will keep you informed of any further developments – if you’ve got any concerns about asbestos, please contact Danny.

In November 2016 maintenance staff were informed that asbestos had been discovered in various locations across the University of London estate which had previously been declared asbestos-free.

Over the last eight months the following breaches have become clear:

  1. No asbestos management plan

Under regulation 4 of CAR 2012 the dutyholder is required to: 

  • prepare a plan that sets out in detail how the risks from these materials will be managed
  • take the necessary steps to put the plan into action
  • periodically review and monitor the plan and the arrangements to act on it so that the plan remains relevant and up-to-date

A copy of the plan was repeatedly requested by staff and unions. Eventually in an email dated 2 June 2017 University Secretary Kim Frost stated:

The University’s Asbestos Management Plan is currently in the process of being updated.  Once updated, this version will be available on the intranet and shared with Bouygues. 

No such plan can be found on the intranet. There appears to have been no asbestos management plan since the departure of the previous asbestos manager in 2010.

  1. No records of non-licenced work

CAR 2012 states that: written records should be kept of non-licensed work, which has to be notified eg copy of the notification with a list of workers on the job, plus the level of likely exposure of those workers to asbestos.

No records of this sort exist, despite work of this sort being performed on a regular basis both up to November 2016 and subsequently.

There are examples too numerous to recount, but for instance, at Nutford House, a student hall of residence, a 2016 refurbishment discovered:

asbestos in the boiler room and various wall and roof voids.  This contamination was the result of discarded asbestos fibre pipe lagging & debris found on the floor of attic from years ago. This roof space houses all the cold water storage tanks, old heating pipes, hot & cold water pipes and before the refurbishment, the expansion tank from the old boiler system.

Over the course of the year the handymen and engineers, are required to make numerous inspections and repairs to storage tanks, pipes and valves the roof spaces.

Prior to these last works, according to the asbestos register, the last time inspection & removal had taken place in Nutford House was in 2002.

Thus non-licensed and notifiable non-licenced work had been going on here between 2002 and 2016 without records being kept, training being provided, asbestos plans being followed or staff even being aware of any risk.

  1. No surveillance by doctor

CAR 2012 states that: all workers/self employed doing notifiable non-licensed work with asbestos must be under health surveillance by a Doctor.

Notifiable non-licensed work has been performed on numerous occasions (eg involving asbestos insulation, drilling holes etc). No member of staff is under surveillance by a doctor.

  1. No mandatory training

CAR 2012 states that: Training is mandatory for anyone liable to be exposed to asbestos fibres at work

While post-November 2016 some cursory training was provided for maintenance staff, prior to this these staff had been working without training whilst exposed to asbestos fibres. IN addition non-maintenance staff have received no training at all.

  1. Information on location and condition of the materials not provided

Under regulation 4 of CAR 2012 the dutyholder is required to:

provide information on the location and condition of the materials to anyone who is liable to work on or disturb them

Prior to November 2016 this had not been done at all. Subsequent to this a series of reports have been produced, but these (despite numerous complaints) have been incomplete and have failed to cover areas which clearly contain asbestos.

One example is the Student Central building, whose most recent report in May 2017 omits a series of areas containing asbestos for which staff have provided photographic evidence (there are many other such examples).

  1. Continued use of previous failed contractor

Previous asbestos surveys by the RPS Group at the University of London had declared the site to be safe. In November 2016 it turned out that that these surveys were inaccurate.

Rather than take legal action, the University of London has re-employed RPS to carry out the current works.