An independent school in Dorset has recently been prosecuted and fined £60,000 with a further £13,000 in legal costs resulting from improper practices during the removal of asbestos insulation boards (AIB). The investigation revealed that from the initial design stages of the project in May 2008 to carrying out the removal works in July 2009 there was inadequate planning for the work which included the failure to carry out a full asbestos survey.

An HSE inspector involved in the action against the school said following the prosecution: “This incident and the risk to those involved could have been easily avoided if competent people had been engaged during the planning of the refurbishment project to advise the school such as a principal designer”

A prosecution such as this shows the seriousness of not being aware of your legal duties. With many schools and academies now taking on the responsibility for all aspects of their schools development it cannot be emphasised enough that ignoring or dismissing the need to appoint appropriately qualified advisers at the appropriate time can lead to catastrophic results. The Royal Institute of Architects (RIBA) suggest that it is advisable to appoint a principal designer under the 2015 Construction Design and Management regulations (CDM 2015) to advise clients as soon as possible after a project’s inception and definitely no later than stage C of the RIBA outline plan of work.