Legislation Watch: Asbestos and schools: the lessons learnt (Legislation Watch 9 Feb 2015); “If children are exposed to asbestos, they have a greater risk of developing mesothelioma than if exposed in later life. In addition, there has been an increase in the number of teachers developing mesothelioma within the last 10 years… Of the 153 schools visited (by HSE), 20 (13%) were issued with an Improvement Notice… 24 other schools were given “written advice” on improving their controls…. 46% of schools did not have a comprehensive system in place to provide information to those who might disturb asbestos-containing materials… only 39% of schools in England were aware of the DfE’s guidance on managing asbestos in schools…. The competency of surveyors is critical in identifying where asbestos is and in what condition. Yet only 31% of schools could show to the HSE they had checked the competency of the surveyors they used… In relation to Asbestos Management Plans only half of the schools recorded all the details that were required, 33% had no such plans.”
Comment: This article underlines the failure of a significant number of schools to safely manage their asbestos identified in the last round of HSE inspections. It also shows how essential it is to have a system of proactive inspections to identify those schools that are not managing their asbestos safely. However there is now no system in place as HSE are no longer is allowed to carry out these essential safety inspections.