The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has served enforcement notices on two UK laboratory supply companies who have supplied schools and potentially other users with asbestos-containing gauze mats.

An HSE spokesperson said: “Although the risk of exposure is low, we took action as soon as we were informed. HSE inspectors ensured supply of the asbestos-containing gauze mats stopped immediately. We got the message out as soon as possible and alerted schools, colleges and others to the issue, providing precautionary advice on how to check if they are affected and if so what to do next.

“Our investigation into the circumstances that led to these particular gauze mats coming into circulation is ongoing. As part of this, HSE inspectors have served enforcement notices on both companies to ensure that all affected mats are disposed of safely.”

Meanwhile, Kent County Council has been fined £200,000 after asbestos was disturbed at Lansdowne Primary School after pleading guilty at Canterbury Crown Court to breaching regulation 10(1) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

The court heard how, on 6 November 2014, an environmental health officer was carrying out a routine food inspection when they noticed what looked like asbestos rope hanging from the ceiling. An investigation found that the asbestos flue and rope were disturbed when it was under the control of the County Council 18 months beforehand.

The HSE found that the flue and gasket rope were attached to a steriliser unit that was removed by the caretaker. The investigation also found that neither the caretaker nor the Head had any asbestos management or awareness training. The council failed to effectively prevent exposure and failed to provide suitable training to those liable to be exposed to asbestos.

Last reviewed 10 September 2018