There’s a legal requirement to manage asbestos to ensure people’s safety, but what is being done about asbestos still present in our UK schools?
It is a topic that Paul Beaumont, CEO of the Independent Asbestos Training Providers (IATP) is keen to address.
IATP wrote an article back in 2016 that was featured in the Education Business magazine.
It highlighted the dangers of asbestos in our schools in the UK.
It’s 4 years on now and has anything significantly changed?
Well even though there has been some progress, asbestos in schools is still a huge problem in the UK that is going to take some time to rectify.
85 percent of schools in the UK still contain asbestos – the asbestos can be found in building materials such as panelling, doors, ceilings, and roofs.
Some of these materials are classed as low risk as there is no danger of staff or pupils coming into contact with them, but others are high risk.
It’s these high risk materials that need to be dealt with urgently for the sake of the well being of all staff and pupils.
Doors are often still lined with asbestos, ceilings are often made with asbestos panels and walls are constructed of Asbestos Insulating Board (AIB).
As these asbestos containing materials age they become more dangerous and there’s more chance of them being damaged or tampered with.
Many schools are simply still not managing the risk of asbestos properly despite the concerns.
Since 1980, figures show that a total of 319 teachers have died from Mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure.
Asbestos has a long latency period before any symptoms develop, so children who are exposed are at great risk of developing mesothelioma or associated diseases in later life, hence we need to protect them now!
Which leads us to ask, what is being done about asbestos in our UK schools?
Parliament responded to the discovery of asbestos in Westminster buildings in 2017, concluding that they needed to take immediate action to protect MP’s.
So why aren’t they doing the same when it comes to our schools as well?
We need more funding from the UK government to tackle the issue.
Especially relevant; The JUAC released a report recently that said that we could still have deadly asbestos in our UK schools by the year 2050.
A further report in the Sunderland Echo in March 2017 detailed an incident that took place at a local school.
Children were hosed down because of a potential release of asbestos, thought to have been caused by high winds affecting the structure of the school. Surely this kind of thing shouldn’t be happening in this day and age?
Therefore, it’s very worrying indeed. The Government has ruled that all asbestos be stripped from schools and public buildings by 2028, but is this realistic?
It’s a huge undertaking and will probably be easier just to knock the buildings down and rebuild. Therefore, this all costs a lot of money which the government probably won’t have allocated enough for.
The IATP in conjunction with the JUAC and the Modern Governor have created a free online information course for schools www.moderngovernor.com/asbestos.
Furthermore, the information provided is for school staff to be able to correctly identify and manage asbestos danger in their school environment. Since the risks and dangers of asbestos, particularly in our schools, are also becoming more widely publicised. Thus the more we publicise it’s dangers, the more we become aware and it means the quicker things will be done.
Source of article:- https://www.educationbusinessuk.net/features/asbestos-unseen-hazard
Most of all duty holders and employers have a legal responsibility to manage asbestos, carrying out an asbestos survey 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 https://www.armco.org.uk/
Finally for all your asbestos survey and training needs call 0161 761 4424 or visit https://www.armcoasbestostraining.co.uk/to book a training course.