Kim Frost has replied to IWGB’s questions about asbestos in University of London buildings. The full reply is below. If you’ve got any additional concerns, please get in touch with Danny.
I am sorry that absence from the office has meant my reply has come later than I would normally have hoped. You have asked a number of questions and I’ll address each in turn:
- That the University provide a full asbestos management plan
The asbestos management plan has been amended and updated. The draft will be submitted for review and approval by the Health and Safety Committee which is scheduled to meet on the 25th September 2017. Members’ comments will be incorporated and the final version of the plan will be published on the intranet once finally approved by the Committee. A copy will also be provided to relevant UoL and Bouygues staff.
- That the University (as promised in February) provide a fully accessible and up to date asbestos survey database
We have now collated all existing surveys into one location and the University’s Compliance Manager, as well as Bouygues managers are able to access this information when needed. Asbestos surveyors are currently being appointed to resurvey the entire estates to ensure accuracy of our records,. Once this work is complete a full web based data base will become available.
In the meantime, and to manage any risks of exposure, all works to any part of the estate by any contractor, which requires intervention with the fabric of any of the buildings, is being managed through the helpdesk. A protocol is in place to ensure that the Compliance Manager reviews and approves works, confirming status of asbestos surveys of the affected area before any work is carried out.
- That the University arrange for a full medical examination and scan for all employees who wish it
The University will arrange for individual referrals to Occupational Health. University of London and Bouygues staff should contact Claire Westgate and Rachel Harris (HR Department, University of London) if they would like a referral to be arranged. Where the Occupational Health report recommends a follow-up x-ray/scan, and it is not possible to obtain this within a clinically appropriate timeframe, the University will arrange for this to take place privately.
Contact details for HR:
Claire Westgate Rachel Harris
- That the University commission an independent review into the handling of this issue
The University has engaged with independent advisors and specialists since we became aware of this matter. Martin Stear BSc DipOH CFFOH (Chartered Occupational Hygienist) has attended the University on two occasions (December 2016 and July 2017) to provide briefings and 1:1 sessions with University of London and Bouygues staff. Following the briefing with Martin Stear on 20th July, the University will be setting up a Compliance sub-group. This sub-group will be responsible for the governance of compliance matters across the University, including the management of asbestos. It will report to Health and Safety Committee and its membership will include Trade Union representatives from UCU and Unison, UoL staff representatives and representatives from Bouygues and other contractors as appropriate. The terms of reference of this sub-group will be drawn up over the coming weeks and the first meeting will be arranged for the start of the academic year.
- That the University provide compensation for the stress and potential health and safety impact of this exposure produced by their negligence
University of London members of staff have access to the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) through the staff benefits portal. The EAP can provide confidential legal advice should anyone wish to discuss any individual circumstances or concerns. The University has arranged for members of staff from Bouygues to also be able to contact the University’s EAP helpline. Contact details will be provided through Greg Hayman. The University does not accept that it has been negligent in respect of the management of University buildings.
- That the University contact ALL potentially affected ex-employees as soon as possible
The University has received advice that it is reasonable for the University to focus contact on current employees and contractors at this time. However, the University’s records include all those who we know are likely to have been exposed and should we be contacted by ex-employees in relation to this matter then we will share the information and advice that we have received.
- That the University immediately close and seal off the Student Central pool area
The pool area is closed and sealed off. Where access is still permitted, the University can confirm that this is because it is safe to do so. No members of staff are being asked to work in any unsafe areas; a review of the estate has been carried out and any unsafe areas have been locked down with access only permitted to those who have had the appropriate training.