We have an ‘unstoppable momentum’ in the fight against asbestos in schools ….. We now know, because of the Committee on Carcinogenicity (CoC), for example, that children are far more vulnerable than was originally thought and it is acknowledged that schools need to be viewed differently to other places of work. That is because of the pressure that has been put to bear in the last few years…“We are now talking about this in a way we weren’t two decades ago. The debate is based around knowledge and information, and we have that evidence on our side. That in itself gives me great hope for the future… The figures speak for themselves. Between 1980 and 1985 there were 15 recorded mesothelioma deaths among school teachers – just three per year. In 2012 alone, there were 22. The numbers are set to continue to rise as the links have become more evident. Around 75 per cent of UK state schools contain asbestos and there is now further research estimating that as many as 300 former pupils could be dying every year from exposure while they were at school. These pupils are dying in their 40s and 50s because of the long latency period. In recent years, Mr Lees has been a member of the Department for Education’s Asbestos Steering Group, which advises ministers, and he was a founder of the campaigning organisation, Asbestos in Schools. He also sits on the Joint Union Asbestos Committee, which comprises membership from 10 teaching and related trade unions. Those groups encouraged the creation of the CoC, adding medical expertise to the debate.
Sec Ed, 9 Sep