University fined for Health & Safety breaches
Magistrates have fined Lincoln University £10,000 and ordered it to pay costs of £12,759, following the discovery of asbestos in four University buildings. A member of staff had become locked in a room after a door handle broke. After the door was forced open to free her, debris was noticed around the door handle. This was identified by the Universitys Health & Safety department as asbestos. A subsequent investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that a number of locations across the Universitys estate had been subjected to asbestos surveys over several years. Those surveys had identified asbestos-containing materials and asbestos debris. However, no action had been taken to resolve the risks posed by this material. The HSE decided to prosecute the University for breaches of the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999. The University pleaded guilty to two offences, resulting in fines and a costs order totalling over £22,000.
Breaches of Health & Safety regulations are criminal offences which can carry fines of up to £20,000 per offence in the Magistrates Courts, along with sentences of imprisonment up to 12 months. For offences which are sent to the Crown Court for hearing, the maximum sentences are unlimited fines and up to two years imprisonment.