Asbestos in Waltham Forest Town Hall: a new LBWF disgrace? Part Two

I have sent the letter pasted below to LBWF Chief Executive, Martin Esom, and will post his response when received.

24 June 2022

Dear Mr. Esom,

I note that in a submission about an ex-employee’s asbestosis that was part of legal proceedings in 2019, LBWF’s defence team ‘specifically denied that members of the public who visited Walthamstow Town Hall for ordinary civic functions were inevitably (or at all) exposed to the risk of fatal asbestos injury’, and later in the same document asserted ‘The Defendant believes that the facts in this defence are true’.

However, having looked at the available evidence, I am unclear as to how LBWF can be so certain of these propositions.

Please note the following.

Looking, first, at the HSE’s prosecution of LBWF in 2014-15, you will remember that LBWF pleaded guilty to offences under para 2.1, and para 3.1 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, but also will be aware that neither explicitly either includes or excludes ‘members of the public’, with the exact text being as follows:

‘2.1 It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.

3.1 It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety’.

Second, turning to the remarks made by District Judge Grant when sentencing in 2015, I can find no reference to him mentioning ‘members of the public’, let alone excluding them from danger.

Third, though successive asbestos surveys of the Town Hall to 2020 identify many instances where dangerous asbestos was present in the Basement, they also note similar instances in other areas of the Town Hall complex where ‘members of the public’ unarguably circulated.

For example, the 2012 GBNS report shows asbestos present in multiple locations (shown in red) on the Town Hall ground floor:

And it is germane that cross-checking reveals five of these to be ‘high hazard’.

In similar vein, the 2019 GBNS survey of the Assembly Hall detected the following:

Given these latter pieces of evidence, in particular, many will conclude that the likelihood of ‘members of the public’ being ‘exposed to the risk of fatal asbestos injury’ at the very least cannot be discounted.

So please will you explain how LBWF can categorically reject such a possibility, especially, of course, when engaged in claiming to tell the truth during legal proceedings?

Yours 

Nick Tiratsoo

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