Cost of CLASP buildings containing asbestos

Nottinghamshire Post: Council offices built in the 1960s and full of asbestos could be pulled down in a bid to save up to £10 million in refurbishment costs… Nottinghamshire County Council’s CLASP building, in the centre of the County Hall site, has a maintenance backlog of £1.2 million. Surveys of the building, which is known as ‘H’ Block at County Hall, estimate that it would cost somewhere between £7 million and £10 million to bring the offices up to modern standards. But demolition costs are estimated at £1.3 million, and the council forecasts the annual running costs at £178,000.”

Comment Nottingham County Council built public buildings and schools using the CLASP system. The cost effectiveness of these options for an office block are similar to those for UK CLASP schools containing asbestos. There is a lack of strategic vision in the government’s failure to do the same and analyse the balance of costs between maintenance, removal of asbestos and demolition and properly cater for the short and long term costs of dealing with asbestos. This example illustrates the major flaw of specifically excluding asbestos in the government review of the condition of school property. Maintenance and refurbishing of an existing building can be very expensive because of the high costs of dealing with asbestos and the failure to address the issue factually means that government funding for school buildings is fundamentally flawed.

Cross and Passion College had to close doors much earlier than expected … asbestos .. detected

Ballycastle Chronicle: Cross and Passion College has had to close the doors much earlier than anticipated for the summer break after Asbestos was detected in the building..Different types of asbestos need to be dealt with in different ways as even small levels of exposure, if repeated day after day, can lead to diseases later in life…. “This week, Cross and Passion College Ballycastle has undergone intensive building survey work. As a consequence of this work, the need to undertake an asbestos removal programme has been identified. The school has applied for and been granted funding to proceed with this work which will ensure that any further improvements and updates to accommodation can proceed in a timely way, with minimum disruption to the education of our pupils…

European Union: asbestos related deaths .. double road deaths. Over 80% of schools in one country alone, UK, contain asbestos

European Committees 24 June: Asbestos related deaths predicted to double those of road deaths. .. the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Committee of the Regions (CoR) heard .. testimony from some of Europe’s top experts on asbestos… placing the total number of estimated deaths in Europe at 47,000 per year, 50% higher than previously thought and double those related to road accidents.  Children and teachers in schools, DIY enthusiasts and maintenance workers are …. increasingly at risk from asbestos infested buildings across Europe…. Asbestos was used extensively in buildings erected between 1961 and 1990, with millions of tonnes still present in buildings, not only putting building and maintenance workers at risk but potentially anybody present or occupying the property…. Over 80% of schools in one country alone, the United Kingdom, still contain asbestos… “Member States and the European Institutions need to take action now to head off this emerging public health crisis.  National Action Plans need to be implemented and the European Commission should prioritize its response to this major risk to public health across all policy areas. We are talking about a lot more than traditionally exposed factory workers, now extending our concern to the children in our schools ………Mauro D’Attis, CoR rapporteur … strongly regretted the fact that asbestos removal is not high on the EU political agenda, emphasizing the lack of political will to deal with an issue that kills thousands of people annually. “We need a rigorous analysis of existing risks and an effective model for registering asbestos presence in buildings”

Morris Ware died from mesothelioma

Local Guardian and Croydon Advertiser: Morris Ware died from mesothelioma, a cancer associated with inhaling asbestos dust, in March last year. .. Between 1961 and 1963 he worked for Croydon Corporation, now Croydon Council, in particular on a school and while decorating homes in New Addington.

… he remembered that he had to rub down asbestos roof tiles while refurbishing a school on a road in the borough then known as Scarborough Hill

HSE new committee on workplace health excludes additional risks to children exposed to asbestos in schools

HSE web site: “HSE has appointed a new committee to provide independent expert knowledge and advice on workplace health… The workplace health expert committee (WHEC) will be made up of nine members who will provide expert opinion on emerging issues and trends, new evidence relating to existing issues and, on the quality and relevance of the evidence base on workplace health issues… In particular, the WHEC will focus on chemical and physical hazards.

Comment This committee effectively takes the place of the disbanded Advisory Committee on Toxic Substances (ACTS). Their remit does not appear to cover children in school as they are not considered by HSE to be ‘workers’ in a ‘workplace’. It is of concern that the additional risks to children in school from asbestos, rather than their adult teachers who are at a lower risk, do not appear to be in their remit.

‘Now my children may have been exposed’

‘I lost my dad to this terrible disease. Now my children may have been exposed.’ Victim’s fury at asbestos alert… “My father died a terrible death,” … “He had been a big, strong man but he just wasted away in front of our eyes.
“At the very end he was praying for the pain to end…. . I’ll never forget it… So Seamus Davis was ‘absolutely stunned’ when he learned this week that asbestos was uncovered at St Joseph’s Primary School in Antrim during routine works….. his own two children had been pupils there… “If I had known that there was asbestos in that school my kids would not have been there. I’ve seen first-hand what it can do and I would never dream of putting a child at that risk.“All it takes is someone to put a nail into the wall and the fibres can be released. If they are breathed in they can lie dormant for years before they change that person’s life forever. To think that thousands of children have passed through there oblivious to the danger is truly frightening. It’s terrifying.

“This really should have come to light sooner. I’m disgusted and disappointed that it has not.”…. Now the community leader wants to see the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools and the Department of Education move quickly to ‘do what they should have done in the first place’.“No expense should be spared here. This has to be done right and it has to be done now,” he said.“What price can you put on the life of a child? Surely there can be no higher priority than that?“I also want the Minister to wake up to what is at stake here. This disturbing incident underlines why a full survey of our schools is needed now.“The Housing Executive are currently checking their stock for asbestos. Is it not too much to ask that our schools do the same?”

BBC speaks to teachers dying of mesothelioma

BBC News Channel Victoria Derbyshire speaks to teachers dying from mesothelioma having been in contact with asbestos in school. The video is available for 29 days from today. Teachers must be protected from the “scourge of asbestos” in UK schools, the National Union of Teachers has said. Two former teachers tell how they have been affected. “I think it was in the ceilings, and I presume it was in the walls,” said Jenny Darby, 71, a science teacher between 1969 and 1996. “So when the [ceiling] tiles came off, the asbestos would come down. I used to stick them back up almost every day.” She does not know where she was exposed to the asbestos that caused her mesothelioma – a rare form of cancer almost always caused by exposure to the substance – but thinks it might have been in one of her classrooms. Asbestos was also in her lab equipment.

A 2013 study from the independent Committee on Carcinogenicity estimated more than 75% of schools in England had buildings containing asbestos. The NUT puts the UK-wide figure at 86%, based on a Freedom of Information request to local authorities. Symptoms of the cancer generally take 30 to 40 years to develop. Once diagnosed, however, most people can expect to live between just 12 and 21 months.

Jenny was diagnosed in May 2013 and is hoping her chemotherapy has slowed the cancer’s progress. But her husband, Bromley, said they were “on borrowed time”. “We’re looking ahead maybe six to eight weeks, maybe more,” he said, regarding the couple’s ability to make plans for the future. … David said.. “So I never thought I was really being exposed until after being diagnosed. I wasn’t aware that by banging doors that could have disturbed some of the asbestos fibres, which I’m now told it could have done. He described asbestos in schools as “a time-bomb waiting to explode”, and his main fear is for pupils. “Children will be children,” he said. “They will knock, tap, kick balls – no matter what signs you put up,” he says.

There are no statistics to suggest how many people might have developed mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure as a pupil, but the Committee on Carcinogenicity suggests a child first exposed to asbestos aged five has a lifetime risk of developing the cancer about five times greater than that of an adult first exposed aged 30.

The government said it would continue to develop more targeted guidance on asbestos management in schools and, where appropriate, fund its removal. A Department of Education spokesperson said: “Billions has been invested to improve the condition of the school estate, with further significant investment to come over this Parliament. This funding will help to ensure asbestos is managed safely and that the amount in school buildings continues to reduce over time.”

But NUT general secretary Christine Blower said the government had no “long-term strategy” and there was “still no [government] recognition that asbestos is a serious problem for schools”.

The Government’s most recent survey of school buildings deliberately excluded asbestos

Independent: NUT General Secretary, Christine Blower said the number of teachers dying of the disease is on the rise – with 22 recorded in 2012. …. She said: “Successive governments have failed to address the legacy of asbestos in schools, leading to unnecessary deaths of staff and former pupils. Children are more at risk than adults from exposure to asbestos fibres, due to the long latency period for mesothelioma. It is estimated that around 200 – 300 adults are dying every year as a consequence of exposure to asbestos when they were at school.”The review of asbestos in schools policy by the previous Government was a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done.  There is still no recognition that asbestos is a serious problem for schools.  Shamefully, the Government’s most recent survey of school buildings deliberately excluded asbestos.”

Temporary classroom for kids shut by asbestos alert

Belfast Telegraph:  Temporary classrooms for kids at school shut by asbestos alert. “It is not anticipated that the school building will be available for use in the last weeks of the 2014/15 academic term.”However, CCMS are confident that the necessary works will be completed in time for the school to return to its premises for the beginning of the 2015/16 academic term this coming September.” Survey work to establish the scale of the asbestos problem in the buildings is already under way. A CCMS spokesman said he anticipated that remedial works at St Joseph’s would be completed in time for it to reopen a the start of the new academic year.
He added that the Department of Education would allocate emergency funds to ensure that the remedial works were completed as quickly as possible.

Antrim primary school closed

Belfast Live: An Antrim primary school has closed as an emergency measure after asbestos was found in the building. Nearly 800 primary and nursery school pupils attend St Joseph’s on Greystones Road, Stiles, which shut its doors on Monday. It may not reopen until after the summer break. A spokesperson for the Education Authority, confirmed there is asbestos in the school but it is not known yet whether it is unstable or can be safely removed. It was discovered during a routine building inspection. One dad who has two youngsters at St Joseph’s said: “We are very frightened our children have been put at terrible risk. I have one in the nursery and an other in the early school and when I look at them I’m terrified they’ve been breathing in asbestos. “We were told by the school that it had to close on Monday because of building work. But we’ve since found out from a local builder that a routine inspection uncovered asbestos and a specialist team will have to be brought in. Word has got out in the building community and that’s no way to find out …”

Government specifically exclude asbestos from their audit of the condition of school buildings

North Devon Journal The Department for Education estimates around 75% of UK schools contain asbestos and forecasts 53,000 mesothelioma deaths in the UK over the 25-year period from 2013 to 2037. However, the Government has resisted calls to carry out a national audit… Michael believes this is due to wariness of causing widespread panic among parents, and the fact the problem is so widespread that to solve it immediately would be enormously expensive. But he said people should not be kept in the dark about the dangers which exist at their schools.“An audit has never been undertaken to determine the extent, type, and condition of asbestos in UK schools,” he said.“In England, the Government even took the decision to specifically exclude asbestos from their two-year audit of the condition of school buildings which was completed in February 2015.” The Government claims the risks associated with asbestos can be kept low if it is managed correctly. Michael argues that asbestos is particularly difficult to manage in schools due to the likelihood of hazardous areas being disturbed as hundreds of children go about their day. He said the gradual removal of asbestos was the answer, adding: “As long as there is asbestos in schools, people will continue to die.”

Waltham Forest fined

UNISON Waltham Forest – Waltham Forest fined for putting employees health at risk.The London Borough of Waltham Forest was fined last Friday at Southwark Crown Court following their pleading guilty to two Charges under the Health and safety at Work Act 1974 section 2(1) and section 3(1), namely failure to protect their employees and failure to protect the public with a further two charges specifically relating to the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and 2012 Regulation 4(8) which relate to the failure to manage asbestos in the Town Hall basement.

With the massive cut backs at the HSE and reduction of their enforcement regime the only cases that are being investigated is when something goes obviously wrong, such as in this case. We need action now with a plan to safely remove all asbestos in the coming years to protect workers and especially children in our asbestos ridden schools…. “Our members will be living with the consequences of asbestos exposure for the rest of their lives and the London Borough of Waltham Forest must acknowledge this sorry state of affairs and create a central register of workers who were exposed to these deadly fibres.” Said Bill Palmer UNISON’s Health and Safety Officer.

NUT asbestos survey findings. 44% teachers not told about asbestos in school. 80% said parents not told

Summary of Findings of NUT Asbestos Survey

In March 2015 the NUT undertook a short on-line survey of a small sample of members. The responses were helpful in that they confirmed our fears about standards of asbestos management in many schools.  The findings also show that while there is a long way to go in terms of getting messages across about the risks to children and the risks to staff, there was near total agreement that there should be a long term strategy on the part of the Government for the eradication of asbestos from schools.

  • 44 per cent of respondents had not been told whether their school contains asbestos.  This is quite shocking since most schools (approximately 86 per cent) do contain asbestos.  If teachers haven’t been told, that means that not even basic awareness training will have been given.
  • Of the 46 per cent of respondents who knew that their school contains asbestos,  40 per cent had not been told where it is located, which means that they, and the children they teach, may be in danger of disturbing it
  • More than 80 per cent of respondents said that parents had not been given information about the presence of asbestos and how it is managed.  In the USA annual reports are mandatory.
  • Very few of the respondents who said that their school does contain asbestos had seen a copy of their school’s asbestos management plan (only 15%)
  • Of the respondents who knew that their school does contain asbestos, just over a third reported that there had been an incident which may have led to exposure.  A selection of comments from respondents on particular incidents is at this link
  • Over three quarters of respondents were unaware of the growing death toll among teachers linked to asbestos exposure.
  • An even greater number (nearly 95 per cent) were unaware that Britain has the highest mesothelioma rate in the world.
  • Only 20 per cent of respondents were aware that children are more at risk than adults from exposure to asbestos fibres, due to the long latency period for mesothelioma.
  • Only 13 per cent of respondents were aware that schools are not routinely inspected to check how asbestos is being managed….

College lecturer verdict ‘Death from industrial disease’

College lecturer verdict ‘Death from industrial disease.’
We are saddened to hear of the death from mesothelioma of Gwyneth Bonnet, a college lecturer.

North Wales Chronicle 30th April 2015
In a statement to lawyers Mrs Bonnet recalled how when she lectured in psychology at Coleg Menai, Llangefni, in the 1990s she operated in mobile and prefabricated classrooms which were dilapidated and whose walls and ceilings were infested with rats….Rev Tom Bonnet told the coroner that there had been a refusal by the authorities to provide evidence of what the situation had been.

Recording a conclusion that Mrs Bonnet died arising from an industrial disease Mr Gittins said evidence provided by her indicated that the exposure to asbestos would have occurred during her time at Pencraig.”

Music teacher died of mesothelioma. Local authority admit culpable exposure to asbestos

Music teacher died of mesothelioma. Local authority admitted culpable exposure to asbestos

Julia Popple died aged 54 from mesothelioma following following exposure to asbestos in her early career.

Mrs Popple worked as an assistant music teacher at a state school in Newham, East London in the 1980s when she was in her late 20s. She was only in employment there for three years but suffered what the local authority admitted was culpable exposure to respirable asbestos dust. The school contained lots of asbestos materials and some of the walls comprised asbestos insulation board. Lots of the classrooms had asbestos ceiling tiles and Julia often went into a broom cupboard to fetch a dustpan and brush when this cupboard was itself contaminated with low but, foreseeably harmful levels of asbestos dust and fibre….Stephen Glynn was prepared to take on the claim under a CFA well before the defendant admitted liability. He advised and drafted pleading which led to the settlement this week of the claim in the sum of £450,000.

Retired teacher Penny Devaney gave her life to education, literally

Asbestos: A double standard Retired teacher Penny Devaney gave her life to education, literally
SecEd 30 April: “Fire deaths, cycle deaths and school related asbestos deaths school-related asbestos deaths – while the government acts on the first two, it is scandalously slow to tackle the third, says Kevin Courtney… Perhaps it is the delayed effect – death can occur decades after first exposure. But those 200 to 300 former pupils who die each year are stolen from their families, often with dependent children, and are robbed of many years of productive life and a happy retirement.”

Daily Mirror 3th April: “Retired teacher Penny Devaney gave her life to education, literally.
Sometime during her 30 years at primary schools in Lancashire  she was exposed to asbestos, which was commonly used in public buildings after the Second World War, and now she has terminal lung cancer… Penny…won an undisclosed six-figure settlement from Lancashire County Council... Ian Toft, an expert asbestos lawyer at her solicitors Irwin Mitchell, said: “Penny, like many other teachers, was not warned of the dangers of asbestos, despite the risks of exposure being known for decades.”

Revised DfE guidance for schools

Revised DfE guidance for Schools. DfE have published their revised asbestos guidance for schools.


  • The revised guidance is aimed at school leaders, governors, local authorities and academy trusts.
  •  It is essential that guidance is also aimed at teachers and support staff. The guidance this replaces was, and we have asked DfE to ensure the secondary guidance is.
  • DfE responded “Please be assured that we do intend to make that more detailed information, with pictures and examples, available to schools by publishing a secondary reference document that will be clearly signposted and linked to in the attached document. This decision has been taken so that we can produce a brief, more approachable primary guidance document that can have the widest possible audience in schools but also includes links to where those who need more information can find it.”
  • DfE also stated that they would include a warning about warm air cabinet heaters in their revised guidance. It is not in this revised guidance and so we are seeking confirmation that it will be included in the secondary reference document.
  • As the assessment of risk is based on the ‘Risk Algorithm’, it is most disappointing that eight months later HSE have still not responded to our criticisms of the present algorithm being unsuitable for schools and our proposal for a review.
  • On page 9 there is a link to an example asbestos management plan. It is dreadful, it is not suitable for schools and will promote bad practice:

NUT – Nearly 90% of schools contain asbestos and teachers are dying in increasing numbers

NUT conference 7 April. Christine Blower, NUT general secretary, said: “The continuing presence of asbestos in our schools is a scandal.  Nearly 90% of schools still contain asbestos and teachers are dying in increasing numbers. In 2012 alone there were 22 teacher deaths from mesothelioma. .. The Coalition Government has not acknowledged that there is a serious problem with asbestos in schools and as a consequence has, despite its recent Asbestos in Schools Review, failed to provide a long term strategy to address the problem. … We want to see nothing less than a complete national audit of the extent, type and condition of asbestos in our schools. In the short to medium term asbestos must be better managed.  In the long term, however, any future government must make real steps towards the removal of asbestos in schools, so that this threat to pupils, teachers and other school staff can finally be eradicated.”

Jennifer Barnett died .. came into contact with asbestos teaching in school

Jennifer (Jen) Barnett from Painswick, died five months’ ago aged 60 after being diagnosed with the extremely aggressive cancer which affects the lining of the lungs, leaving her husband Nigel and the rest of the family devastated. ..Jen taught at Archway School between 1980 and 1997, where she was known as Miss Shonk, and rose to become head of art before she left to have her fourth child at the age of 42. Her family believes she came into contact with asbestos during her time there when she pinned pupils’ work up for display onto the ceilings and walls… Her husband Nigel said “I am hoping that former teachers or ex-pupils will come forward who may have some knowledge about the asbestos ceiling tiles at Archway School or know of any other asbestos products or materials that were used there. I know that Jen was involved in clay modelling and that the damp cupboard for storing clay items was lined with asbestos board.”She also was believed to have been exposed to asbestos when she cut up a shed as a teenager, the pathologist conducting the post mortem examination was told.

My Sandra was killed by asbestos in school

“My Sandra was killed by asbestos in school. The grieving husband of a woman who died of cancer after being exposed to asbestos during her schooldays has vowed to carry on her fight for justice. Iain Naylor’s wife Sandra passed away last August, aged 52, following a painful battle with mesothelioma…… He said: “We are angry beyond words that Sandra was exposed to asbestos years after the first warnings went out in 1967 about the dangers in schools.”

The mum-of-two blamed her diagnosis on asbestos dust from building work while she attended Caldervale High School in Airdrie, Lanarkshire, between 1974 and 1979… Sandra was just one of thousands of youngsters potentially exposed to asbestos during their schooldays. Between 1947 and 1975 around 13,000 schools were built when use of the substance was at its peak. The average time from exposure to contraction of the cancer is 35 years and lawyers believe the peak of cases will come after 2020.