Asbestos in Waltham Forest


Following a complaint by UNISON in Waltham Forest to the Health and Safety Executive about the lack of consultation and the withholding of information regarding asbestos in the Town Hall, Waltham Forest Council were issued an Improvement Notice by the HSE.

This Branch had continually requested information regarding the ongoing situation at the Town Hall. When no consultation or information was forthcoming the branch contacted the HSE and made them aware of the situation. The HSE then carried out a full investigation.

The Waltham Forest Guardian ran the following article in last week’s issue. Here is a section of it:-

“A safety watchdog has rapped Waltham Forest Council over its handling of asbestos at the Town Hall.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued a series of improvement orders on the authority stating it has failed to draw up legally-required plans for, and records of, managing the cancer-causing fibre at the site in Forest Road, Walthamstow.”

“Last year it emerged that all three types of asbestos – including its most dangerous blue variety – had been found in multiple rooms of the Town Hall, potentially putting dozens at risk.”

“It was then revealed that the Council had known about the issue since the 1980s but had continued to store sensitive documents in one of the rooms affected.”

“The authority then announced it would have to destroy around 5,000 of the documents amid concerns they may have been contaminated, although it pledged to electronically copy some “important” financial and legal paperwork.”

“The news comes as the HSE continues its investigation into the Council over the handling of asbestos at all its buildings in the borough. This includes the former Warwick School for Boys site in Brooke Road, Walthamstow, where pupils at St Mary’s Primary School were due to relocate until asbestos was also found there last summer.”

“And in February the HSE launched an investigation into the Council’s handling of water systems in some schools, following concerns there was a risk of the potentially deadly Legionella bacteria developing.”

“The HSE asbestos improvement order, published this week, states the Council failed to “draw up a suitable and sufficient plan to manage the asbestos or any asbestos containing substances” and had failed to “record how the plan will be implemented”.

UNISON is continuing to chase the Council over its asbestos management and has requested copies of the Management Plan and also updates of the Brook Road site.

We will keep you informed of further developments.

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