Category Archives: incident in school

Refurbishment work discovered more asbestos than expected

Asbestos is being stripped from a secondary school (Diocese of St Albans, Townsend CofE School) where students are being taught music…. A notice was recently sent to parents of pupils attending St Albans Music School, which earlier this year had to relocate to Townsend School from its former base at Garden Fields JMI, to make way for the latter’s expansion. … it said that the music school would not open until next Monday, September 21, as builders carrying out refurbishment work had discovered more asbestos than expected. He said that an initial survey identified the presence of asbestos mainly in floor tiles, the plant and electrical intake rooms and a ceiling panel.

Allay fears after asbestos found at primary school

CONWY County Council has moved to allay fears after asbestos was found at a Rhos on Sea primary school. The hazardous material was found at Ysgol Llandrillo-yn-Rhos during an inspection before a kitchen revamp which took place during the school holidays. The spokesperson added: “Work to refurbish the kitchen at Ysgol Llandrillo-yn-Rhos was scheduled to take place during the summer holidays…. “This involved undertaking a pre-refurbishment survey, which included an assessment to confirm the presence or otherwise of asbestos.

“As expected, in line with the Schools Asbestos Register, Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) were identified and the appropriate management processes were implemented to ensure that any risks were mitigated. As an additional safeguard the survey was extended to the whole school. The headteacher has been kept informed and air monitoring has been on-going and will continue on a regular basis to ensure air quality. .. “Further work will take place at October half-term.”.. Conwy council added that they were managing the asbestos in order to reduce risk, but did not confirm whether or not any of the materials will be moved.

Heating engineers exposed to asbestos when working at Manchester school

HSE: A Stockport heating engineering firm were sentenced after two of its engineers were exposed to asbestos while working at a Manchester school. Trafford Magistrates’ Court heard Flueclean were contracted to replace boilers in the boiler room of the school. However, two of Flueclean’s gas engineers were exposed to asbestos when they took the side panels off boilers which had asbestos insulation on the boiler casing

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…

‘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”.

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 …”

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.”

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.

Government Review of asbestos in schools published – welcomed but an analysis of the flaws linked to a copy

At this link is a welcome for the review and an analysis of the flaws in the review that need rectifying. The analysis is linked to a copy of the review.