Last updated: 28.01.14

Luton Borough Council faces legal threat over asbestos

Legal action could be taken against Luton Borough Council after a teacher at Denbigh Primary School died from asbestos-related cancer.

Hazel Macdonald of Harpenden passed away after being exposed to asbestos fibres, and her husband Ian is now threatening to take the local authority to court for failing to get rid of the harmful minerals, the BBC reports.

According to Ms Macdonald's inquest, she died after inhaling airborne fibres - her widower said she had been complaining of chest pains for more than two years.

Mr Macdonald stated he wants to take the matter to court to reverse the council's decision to leave asbestos in place in schools. 

"For the sake of children the fibres should be covered by a plasticiser to keep them bonded," he added.

Out of the 63 council-owned schools in Luton, 59 contain asbestos. Luton Borough Council claimed it is continuing to investigate the matter with Denbigh Primary School in order to come up with a response to the legal threat.

A spokesman from the organisation told the BBC: "All asbestos-based products are safe unless they are damaged or liable to damage, and in many instances it is safer to leave asbestos in place and not remove it."

The incident with Ms Macdonald serves as a warning to other businesses that may not have taken adequate measures to protect their employees from asbestos.

Awareness of the group of poisonous minerals, which is thought to cause around 4,000 deaths each year, is crucial, and companies employing tradespeople must ensure their staff know how to recognise it.

This could be achieved by turning to the services of Virtual College, an e-learning provider that offers an online module in Asbestos Awareness.

The training is classed as Category A, and is designed to equip individuals with all the knowledge they need to identify the different types of asbestos and their primary risks, as well as an understanding of the procedures to follow if they come into contact with asbestos.