'No legal action' from HSE following health and safety investigation

A Health and Safety Executive investigation into the way asbestos-containing material was managed at South Kesteven District Council housing has resulted in no further action.

SKDC does take this matter extremely seriously and will continue to work with the HSE to demonstrate the improvements made to ensure a similar situation does not arise again.

The health, safety and welfare of tenants is a priority for SKDC, but on this occasion in October 2019 our service fell short of the standard required, for which we apologise.

This issue arose during work carried out by contractors to rectify historical problems with heating and hot water systems at the Riverside complex in Grantham.

The Council Officers who were involved in the project at the time are no longer employed by SKDC and a new housing team is in place who are driving forward change to ensure this does not happen again.

Lessons have been learned and changes made, and we would like to reassure tenants that an active programme is under way to manage any and all risks posed by asbestos in our housing stock.

The Council has written to all tenants and leaseholders at the Riverside complex after being informed of the Health and Safety Executive decision to take no further action following its investigation into how asbestos-containing material was managed during the heating and hot water works at Riverside during 2019.

The decision letter from the HSE states: "Whilst there was clear evidence of a material breach of health and safety law in respect of the failure to carry out a suitable and sufficient assessment of the presence of asbestos prior to refurbishment work in the Riverside complex, the case does not pass the evidential stage for further enforcement action."

SKDC fully accepts the findings of the Health and Safety Executive inspectors.  

On October 31st, 2019, during a site visit, the HSE issued a Prohibition Notice enforcing a cease and desist notice on the construction/improvement project.

The Prohibition Notice was based on the concern that construction/improvement work was being undertaken by contractors without the proper asbestos survey information having been provided by the Council as the employer responsible for the correct checks having taken place.

The Council issued a sincere apology to all residents in November 2020, following the results of an independent enquiry into the mismanagement of repairs to the heating and hot water systems.

The enquiry found that faults to the heating and hot water were reported from 2016, but co-ordinated works to replace the system did not begin until 2019.

Senior officers of the Council are shortly due to meet with HSE representatives to review the improvements taking place.