An asbestos scare at the Waikato Hospital in New Zealand forced emergency crews to close off a patient transfer hallway. The event also subjected four individuals to an extensive decontamination process.
Accident reports state that an electrician removed a light fitting when a significant amount of asbestos fell from the ceiling. Hamilton senior station officer Dave Gunn said that emergency crews responded quickly in two trucks, one of which contained the hazardous materials unit. The team reported to the stairwell that the electrician had been working in to begin a necessary clean-up.
Three contractors, including the electrician and one hospital employee, were sent through the hospital’s decontamination unit as a precaution.
The stairwell leads to the cafeteria in the Waiora Waikato Centre, but Waikato District Health Board communications director Mary Anne Gill maintains that the cafeteria was unaffected by the asbestos accident. She also stated that the hospital took “maximum precautions” to remedy the situation, and the “risk was extremely low”.
Emergency crews worked through the night testing for asbestos in the air in the accident area.
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