Government issues new asbestos guidance for schools

Government issues new asbestos guidance for schools

A recent study has revealed that 1,060 schools in England are not safely managing the risks of asbestos or are not fully compliant with current legislation.

As such, the Government have stepped in and have issued schools with new safety guidelines for them to implement and follow.

The EFA (Education Funding Agency) have issued 2 different guidance documents for 2017.

They are titled ‘Managing asbestos in your school’ and ‘Where asbestos may be located’.

These new documents are to replace the old ones issued by the DFE (Department of Education).

These new guidance documents are aimed at school leaders such as head teachers.

They are also for other teachers and school staff, duty-holders and governing bodies.

The guidelines apply to local authority schools, free schools and academies.

Each of the reports offers advice on how to identify asbestos, how to assess the risks and how to manage it in schools.

Also included in the reports are relevant legislations and links to key resources, which include the ‘HSE asbestos checklist’ and ‘HSE’s priority assessment algorithm’.

Government issues new asbestos guidance for schools - pupil writes with pencil

Case studies provided in guidance documents

In the ‘Managing Asbestos in your school’ guidance, a number of real case studies are included.

For example, there is one case where unsafe removal of asbestos insulation boards meant several people being exposed to asbestos.

The school was subsequently fined £60,000 and the court ordered them to pay additional costs of £13,000.

Guidance given is broken down into a five step, day to day management of asbestos as follows:-

  1. You must have a management survey of asbestos containing materials (ACMs) in your school which should be conducted by a United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) and in accordance with HSE guidance.  This must be done for all buildings constructed before the year 2000.
  2. Assess the risks associated with ACMs in your school.  This must be done for each identified presence of asbestos and includes three parts:  material, priority and total assessments.
  3. Devise an Asbestos Management Plan (AMP) to include details of arrangements to inform all staff about the location of ACMs and the schedule for monitoring the condition of ACMs.
  4. Make sure staff, visitors and contractors know the risks and precautions they need to take, including the risks of pinning children’s work to walls.
  5. Keep the management of asbestos in your school under review with updates of damage to asbestos and work undertaken to ACMs.

In the second report, ‘Where asbestos may be located’, the different types of building and maintenance work that may disturb ACMs are covered.

Examples are also given of activities that have previously disturbed asbestos in schools, such as teachers hanging decorations from ceiling grids when the ceiling void was contaminated with asbestos debris.

Images illustrating common locations of asbestos are provided

A number of images are provided to illustrate the common locations of asbestos – walls, ceilings, window and door surrounds, pipework insulation and sprayed coatings on structural columns.

The documentation warns, “If you do not follow the steps set out in this advice, you may put the future health of your staff and pupils at risk.”

“Duty-holders could also face prosecution by failing to comply with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012“.

The new guidelines have come about after an EFA Asbestos Management in Schools Data Collection Report carried out a voluntary survey on 5,592 schools.

Of the schools surveyed, 19% have been identified as not being fully compliant or not to be safely managing asbestos risks.

Furthermore, a subset of 114 schools caused ‘significant cause for concern’ leading to DFE intervention.

In order to download a copy of the guideline reports, please follow this link:-  www.gov.uk/government/publications/asbestos-management-in-schools–2

Source of article:-  ROSPA OS&H Journal

Duty holders and employers have a legal responsibility to manage asbestos in their building so as not to put employees at risk. Contact our Armco office for asbestos management and refurbishment/ demolition surveys on 0161 763 3727 or by visiting http://www.armco.org.uk/

Alternatively, for all your asbestos training needs call 0161 761 4424 or visit http://www.armcoasbestostraining.co.uk/ for more information or to book a training course.

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Published Apr 10, 2017
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