A popular watersports centre in Southend has been closed after bosses discovered an asbestos issue that needs to be resolved before the building is safe to use once again.
Staff at Southend Marine Activities Centre are said to have broken an asbestos insulation board last week, leading to the decision to shut the doors to members of the public, reports the Essex Enquirer. The facility is located on the Eastern Esplanade and offers tuition in sports such as canoeing, windsurfing, sailing and jetskiing to local people and school groups.
Southend Council's group manager for tourism and promotion Scott Dolling has offered an update on the issue, noting that the board was broken during an internal redecoration project. Two members of staff are said to have accidently snapped it, meaning bosses were forced to carry out air monitoring tests.
"These tests indicated that the level of asbestos fibres in the atmosphere were below the control action levels. However, as a precaution the council is arranging for the classroom to be environmentally cleaned and for all remaining asbestos insulation boards to be safely removed," Mr Dolling stated.
The Health and Safety Executive has previously named asbestos as the most common cause of work-related deaths in the UK, so acting quickly to protect both members of the public and employees is always the first priority.
Calling in professionals, kitted out with respiratory equipment, is the only way to tackle asbestos in a building. Allowing anybody to come dangerously close to the substance can have serious long-term implications for their health.
While it remains to be seen how long it will take to clear Southend Marine Activities Centre of asbestos, its closure could serve as a reminder of the importance of taking safety first when dealing with the potentially fatal material in any environment.