Asbestos Campaigner and mesothelioma sufferer, Mavis Nye, is behind a new campaign where parents are urged to write to their schools to ask about asbestos.
She has posted on the social network, LinkedIn, asking if people will consider writing a letter to their child’s school to try and find out if it contains asbestos, and if so, how it is being managed.
Schools are supposed to inform parents if there is asbestos in schools, yet it would appear that parents only find out if they actually ask about it.
Here is an example letter that Mavis has drafted and shared that you could use, but obviously fill in with your own details:-
Dear<HEAD TEACHER>,<CHAIR OF TRUSTEES>,
I am writing to ask you for more information about asbestos at <INSERT NAME> School. I am asking this because I am concerned about the safety of both the children and the teaching and support staff at the school. I’m sure you are busy, with many things competing for your time but I would ask that you find time to take these questions seriously.
The latest research in the UK shows that over 86% of schools in the UK do currently contain asbestos, putting over 7 million pupils at regular risk of exposure.
A survey by the NUT in 2015 found that only 46% of teachers knew if there was asbestos in their school. This lack of knowledge puts them and their pupils directly at risk.
Mesothelioma has a very long latency meaning that many victims are diagnosed with the illness 30 to 40 years after their exposure.
The number of UK teachers dying from mesothelioma has risen to 22 a year. This is currently the highest rate in the world and is predicted by experts to continue to rise.
Children are particularly vulnerable to developing mesothelioma. A child first exposed at age 5 is five times more likely to contract mesothelioma than someone first exposed at age 30.
It is estimated that between 200 and 300 people are dying each year as a result of exposure to asbestos when they were pupils at school. 2 million asbestos fibers can fit on a pin head but mesothelioma can develop from ingesting only one or two fibers.
The fibers can pass through the smallest gap or crack.
Has an up to date asbestos survey been carried out for <INSERT NAME> School? Is there asbestos present and is there an ‘asbestos management plan’ in place?
If there is asbestos please can you tell me:
1. What type of asbestos is it? How much there is? Where is it? What condition is in it? What plans are in place for it’s management and removal?
2. Can the children knock, scrape or damage the asbestos? Can teachers or support staff disturb the asbestos?
3. Do all teachers, support staff and volunteers (including staff on temporary contracts) know where the asbestos is? Do teachers, school support staff and volunteers know what actions to take if they see any damage to the asbestos? Are staff and volunteers regularly updated on how the asbestos is being managed and the plans for it’s removal? Do all new staff and volunteers receive information about asbestos as part of their induction?
4. Will the school commit to producing an annual report for all parents and school staff reporting on the extent and condition of asbestos in the school and the plans in place for it’s management and removal?
I’d be grateful if you could respond to this request by writing to me at <INSERT ADDRESS>.
With best wishes
You may also want to sign a petition being led by Lucie Stephens, following the death of her mother who worked as a teacher in schools over many years.
Lucie’s mum died from mesothelioma last June.
Lucie is campaigning for all schools in the UK to produce an annual report informing parents and staff about any asbestos contained within their school, the types of asbestos found and how it will be managed.
She is also campaigning for the removal of asbestos from all schools by the year 2028.
The petition will be delivered in person to the Minister of Education.
Click here to read more and to sign the petition https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/protect-our-children-and-teachers-from-asbestos-exposure-in-schools
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 https://www.armco.org.uk/
Alternatively, for all your asbestos training needs call 0161 761 4424 or visit https://www.armcoasbestostraining.co.uk/ for more information or to book a training course.