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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’.
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:-
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.
A number of images are provided to illustrate the common locations of asbestos exposure – 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
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