Asbestos in schools and colleges remains a current and relevant problem.
Did you know that out of the 20,400 primary schools and 3,400 secondary schools in the UK, 13,000 were built between 1945 and 1974. These years were significant as they were the boom years for the use of asbestos and asbestos containing materials in buildings. In addition to this many other schools would have been refurbished during or since that time also using asbestos containing materials. As such large amounts of asbestos was indeed used in the construction of our schools in the UK.
Asbestos in schools and colleges was still used right up until asbestos was finally banned in November 1999.
Britain has the highest mesothelioma incidence in the world, at more than twice that of France, Germany or the USA.
Currently in Britain there are more people dying from asbestos related diseases than there are from road accident deaths per year.
During the mid 1990’s, these figures were at parity with 3500 deaths a year in each group. Whereas road deaths have decreased by 45%, asbestos deaths have increased by 35% over the same period.
“The number of deaths from mesothelioma among school teachers is far higher than one should expect in what appears to be a low risk occupation.”
The HSE have stated in relation to teachers that:
“There are too many deaths among a group which are supposed to have had very little asbestos exposure.”
This is due in part to our widespread use of asbestos insulating board (AIB) as ceiling and wall components which contains amosite (brown) asbestos.
Amosite belongs in the amphibole group of asbestos which is the most toxic to the human body.
Schools are regarded as special places because they contain children who are more at risk from asbestos exposure than adults.
So what are the issues with asbestos in schools and colleges?
Current HSE guidelines state that, as long as the asbestos is in good condition and not likely to be disturbed, it is better to manage it for the remaining life of a school rather than to remove it. Because of this most of the asbestos remains in our schools and will have to be managed long into the future.
Although some schools have effective systems of asbestos management in place, many do not.
Many schools and colleges will have some form of an asbestos register, however many are not kept up to date and accurate. We have found that key people in schools do not know where the register is kept and that contractors are not shown the asbestos registers prior to commencing works.
To add to these issues many schools and colleges do not provide their staff with asbestos awareness training, they do not have effective asbestos management plans, there are no clear lines of stated responsibility and poor survey information is common.
How do you know if your school or college is asbestos compliant?
To check if your school is asbestos compliant, download our asbestos in schools and colleges compliance check list. Alternatively we offer a free asbestos in schools and college audit which is undertaken by one of our qualified asbestos consultants. To book a free asbestos audit contact us today.