Asbestos management surveys are currently being carried out in schools nationwide.
Asbestos is present in 90% of schools in England. Despite knowing the deadly risks of asbestos exposure the authorities continue to not take action. Management reports were being carried out early 2014 and the management report should have been produced June 2014 but it has still not been published, and is not expected to be until the end of February 2015. There is concern that the report is being delayed due to the high cost of better management of asbestos in schools.
If undisturbed, asbestos should be of no harm, but firstly it needs to be identified. This is done through an asbestos management survey which locates the asbestos containing materials (ACM’s) and ensures it is not at risk of being disturbed. This is especially important in older schools where the condition of the asbestos is likely to be worse. It is important that we see these reports sooner rather than later.
Asbestos can be costly and difficult to remove so the government plan to manage it in schools instead, as long as the ACM’s are in good condition and unlikely to be disturbed. There management of asbestos is not always possible though as with time the condition of the asbestos is likely to deteriorate.
Within the surveys, it is also important to look for what is likely to disturb the asbestos. It is present in many places throughout schools for example in walls, floors, ceilings, windows and doors and many school activities such as pinning work to walls and the opening, closing and slamming of doors are known to disrupt the asbestos and release its fibres into the atmosphere.
It is important to keep the dangers of asbestos in schools publicised as it poses a health risk for teachers, staff and students. 177 teachers have died of Mesothelioma and asbestos related disease since 2001, this number does not take into account teaching assistants, caretakers and other staff members. Mesothelioma is also expected to peak between 2016 and 2020 due to the delay from exposure to diagnosis, because of this also; we cannot be sure how many people exposed to asbestos in school as children have actually been effected. It is estimated that between 200 and 300 people will die of Mesothelioma each year due to exposure as a pupil in the 60’s and 70’s.
Inspections by the HSE in 2013 and 2014 of non local authority schools showed that out of 153 schools, 20 of them had poor safety management of asbestos. It is important to manage the asbestos in school so as not to put people at risk of exposure and developing asbestos related disease.
If you manage, or are responsible for a building and any employees it is your responsibility to take out an asbestos management survey should you believe the building contains asbestos. Similarly, if you plan on making and upgrades or refurbishment to a domestic property you suspect to contain asbestos you will need to have a refurbishment/demolition survey. At Armco we offer both surveys by our professional and experienced surveyors. To book a survey or if you have any questions call 0161 763 3727 or visit http://www.armco.org.uk/.