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Unite urges wider cladding checks

BRITAIN'S biggest union demanded yesterday that all workplaces with cladding undergo thorough checks after it was revealed that an unfinished hospital was encased in flammable materials.

Unite made the call for across-the-board checks at workplace buildings following findings that Royal Liverpool Hospital, which was being built on a £335 million contract by Carillion, had "unsafe" cladding.

Work on the hospital has stalled since the contractor's collapse earlier this year.

The hospital trust had sought assurances from Carillion that the cladding on the new hospital met fire safety standards, and were told it did.

However, an independent review of the hospital found that at least some of the cladding did not meet safety standards and exposed structural deficits regarding the concrete beams.

This is not the first time that a new hospital has been found to be fitted with flammable cladding.

In July, it was revealed that the Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, being built by Skanska, had to be delayed, as the cladding did not pass safety standards.

“It is now clear that company assurances from employers and construction companies about the safety of cladding could be in question,” Unite national health and safety adviser Rob Miguel said.
 
“Workers who were concerned last year will now be highly alarmed about safety at their workplace. Rather than assurances they need clear evidence that cladding is safe. Until then employers need to introduce additional safety measures.”

After last year's Grenfell Tower fire, as a result of which 72 people died, the government ordered safety checks of cladding on residential buildings, NHS properties and schools.
 
Royal Liverpool Hospital Trust chief executive Aiden Kehoe said the cladding must be replaced "at additional cost."

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