'We expect our children to be safe when we send them to school. We do not expect the Council to poison their air'
Cllr John Duffy has written the following email to Brent councillors:
Since I wrote my last email, I have received fresh photographic evidence from a resident that is most disconcerting. On the 1st of December 2017, the council employed a firm to remove approx 15 tonnes of contaminated soil from the graveyard. This procurement seems to have been done in haste as the company employed are not, as far as I can research, experts in the removal of contaminated and waste and their employment followed no proper procurement rules - as if often the case for Brent. I also do not know whether they are licensed to carry the contaminated waste.
The company removed the soil by mechanical shovel, which is totally the wrong way to proceed. The way the operation was carried out raised a considerable amount of contaminated dust. The council did not supervise the operation or ensure a risk assessment took place. The operation failed to fulfil the basic H+S standards when dealing with Hazardous /Contaminated waste. The use of the shovel and the removal should be carried out in a more controlled fashion to try and limit making airborne dust. The area was fully open to public while the operation took place ,the waste was then placed in an open lorry rather than a locked skip which is required in guidelines on the Control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH).
However the worst aspect of the operation was that it took place just feet from the children's playground/garden of Salusbury Road Primary School. No risk assessment was done and no effort was made to inform the school to keep the children safe inside during the operation. Furthermore no effort was made to contain the dust clouds.
The CEO, the Leader of the Council and Lead Member for the Environment must now stop trying to impede an Independent Investigation establishing the full facts of how the waste arrived at Paddington Cemetery and the question of whether workers were instructed to work without protection.
However, the first thing we must do as a priority is to contact the school and find were children and staff present during the operation. This can be done by comparing class timetables against the work schedule.(I have copied in the head of the school) and establish why the school was not informed that the operation was going on.
I am concerned that the Leader and Cabinet’s decision not to insist on an independent investigation and their failure to ensure the workforce be interviewed has brought the council into disrepute and undermined the workforce human rights.
I will be moving at tonight's meeting that we set up an independent investigation, as set out in my previous email, to reassure, the workers, residents grave owners and the school we have nothing to hide and there will be no more cover-ups.
Cllr Duffy adds:
Cllr Duffy adds:
I would like to thank Baroness Jones for adding her support to the Friends of Paddington Cemetery. Hopefully, we will now see the commission of an Independent Investigation, where all the individuals who were exposed to asbestos will be interviewed.I believe it is the duty of the CEO and the Leader of the Council, along with the Lead Member for the Environment, to cease the prevarication and answer the questions Baroness Jones has raised.
(1) Did Council officers knowingly send waste contaminated with asbestos to Paddington cemetery in August 2015 in spite of the fact that they understood it would be disturbed during the burial and gardening process and this would lead to the work-force being exposed to the asbestos?
(2) On the 24th June 2017, did Council officers instruct workmen to work on the mound without protective overalls and masks and training? I believe this to be a very serious matter that put both the workmen and public at risk .
(3) Why are the CEO, Leader and Lead member for the Environment unwilling to contemplate interviewing the workforce who have been exposed to asbestos since August 2015 and including those exposed to the contaminated dust on June 24th 2017?
On Friday I spoke to ACAS and they told me it is the responsibility of the CEO as the senior officer to ensure the council fulfils its duty of care to the council’s employees. This means they should take all steps, which are reasonably possible, to ensure their health, safety and wellbeing. Demonstrating concern for the physical and mental health of your workers shouldn’t just be seen as a legal duty. Legally, employers must abide by relevant health & safety and employment law, as well as the common law duty of care, but they also have a moral and ethical duty not to cause, or fail to prevent, physical or psychological injury, and must fulfil their responsibilities. I am sure everybody is aware that this would include knowingly instructing workers employees to work in an area contaminated by asbestos without protection.