Asbestos in schools to be tackled by new Acorn campaign

Acorn campaign targets asbestos in schools.

This week we were proud to launch a hard-hitting campaign targeting the issue of asbestos in schools.

If you read our blog last week you will know that more than 20 years after the UK banned the use of asbestos here, it’s estimated that a high percentage of our schools still contain the deadly substance.

Shockingly, on average between 200 and 300 people die each year in the UK because they were exposed to asbestos in schools as children. The UK also has the world’s highest death rates for teachers dying from mesothelioma – a cancer which is caused by exposure to asbestos in 90 per cent of cases.

For years we’ve worked hard to educate the construction industry and the wider public about the dangers of asbestos.

Acorn representatives have also been involved in high level talks with fellow campaigners and politicians and have called for action to be taken to address the awful legacy of asbestos in schools.

We have met with families who have lost loved ones because they were exposed to asbestos in schools and have seen firsthand the heartbreak those families go through every day.

What are we doing about asbestos in schools?

This week  – to mark World Teachers’ Day – Acorn launched a campaign to protect teachers and children from asbestos in schools.

To begin with, the campaign will focus on the city of Birmingham where we have one of our bases and where several of our employees live and work. We are starting our campaign in Birmingham because over the past few years, the city has hit the headlines numerous times because of asbestos in schools.

A couple of years ago it emerged that more than 80 per cent of council-run schools in Birmingham could contain asbestos. The news was widely carried by the likes of the BBC and the Birmingham Mail and at the time council chiefs were quick to stress that any building constructed before 2000 has the potential to contain asbestos and it is safe if it is not disturbed or damaged.

We wouldn’t dispute this. The problem is that in a school there is a far greater chance of asbestos being disturbed or damaged. As we mentioned in our blog last week, one of the reasons why people in schools are more vulnerable to asbestos if it is present is because children are playful, boisterous and often move in groups. It’s therefore not uncommon for school buildings to be damaged and this can lead to harmful asbestos fibres being released into the air.

There are also many places in schools where teachers and children can regularly come into contact with asbestos. For example, did you know that many of the noticeboards in schools built before 2000 contain asbestos? Every time a teacher – or a pupil – puts up a new piece of work or takes down an old one they could be exposing themselves to asbestos. Sadly, we know of teachers who have died young from mesothelioma simply because they pinned work to noticeboards.

We are not trying to frighten anyone by sharing these statistics or by sharing our experiences but we are committed to doing everything we can to highlight the issue of asbestos in schools because it needs to be tackled. Let’s make this clear – no one should be contracting serious illnesses or dying because they have been exposed to asbestos. This situation is entirely preventable, and we owe it to our teachers and our children to make sure they are protected from the danger posed by asbestos.

How will our campaign about asbestos in schools work?

As we said earlier, the campaign has been launched in Birmingham this week. We’re pleased to say it has attracted lots of attention from the media, including local broadcasters and it has already begun featuring on prominent news websites including the likes of UK News Group and Business In The News and has been shared widely by the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce.

We have also reached out to Birmingham’s MPs to see if can find ways to work together to lobby for change at a government level and, as the campaign progresses further, we will be inviting other interested parties, lobby groups and charities to add their voices of support to the campaign.

Initially, our focus will be on Birmingham but as an independent asbestos consultancy offering a comprehensive suite of asbestos consultancy services from asbestos air testing and asbestos surveys to removal management, and UKATA accredited training across the UK it is our intention to roll out this campaign nationwide.

Although the spotlight has been thrown on the issue of asbestos in schools in Birmingham in recent years this is not simply a local problem. The problem of asbestos in schools spans the whole of the UK.

What is the first step to tackling asbestos in schools?

The first step to tackling the problem of asbestos in schools is to promote greater awareness about the presence of asbestos in school buildings to ensure the hazardous substance is managed safely or removed.

Many headteachers and governing bodies are not aware if their school contains asbestos. It is imperative that all headteachers – or indeed anyone who is responsible for managing a public or commercial building – know where asbestos is in their buildings and what state it is in. If you don’t know where your asbestos is and you don’t know what state it is in you are not going to be able to manage it properly. As a result, you could end up putting people’s lives at risk and you could be prosecuted for failing to comply with the law.

To help tackle this problem, Acorn is offering all headteachers in Birmingham a free asbestos audit for their school. All they have to do, is call Acorn on 0844 818 0895.

How can you help with our campaign to tackle asbestos in schools?

At Acorn, we are serious about tackling the problem of asbestos in schools. We are offering free asbestos audits to headteachers in Birmingham because we want to help them take the first steps towards getting on top of the problem.

We are committed to working with local politicians, campaign groups, charities and other interested groups to raise awareness of the issue within schools themselves but we also want to see action taken at a government level to address the issue of asbestos in schools once and for all.

Other countries around the world have made concerted efforts to tackle the problem of asbestos in schools. Here it is something that has been talked about for years, but progress is far slower than we would like. Things have got to change. Our teachers, headteachers and school staff deserve better. Our children deserve better.

If you work at a school that was built before 2000, ask your headteacher if they know whether the building contains asbestos. If they don’t know, let them know we can help them.

If you have a child or a grandchild at a school that was built before 2000, find out if the school knows whether it contains asbestos. If they don’t know, let them know we can help them.

If you know there is asbestos at a school you are connected with and the management team are unsure about how to manage it, tell them about us. Let them know we can help them.

If you feel you can help us with our campaign to tackle the problem of asbestos in schools email us today on birmingham@acornasbestos.co.uk

In the meantime, if you would like further information or advice on asbestos and asbestos training, call Acorn on 0844 818 0895 or Contact Us   

Ian Stone

I am based out of our Northampton office but regularly travel to meet with new and existing clients. I have assisted thousands of clients over the years on varying-sized projects, several have been schemes totalling over one million pounds spent purely on asbestos. Together with Neil Munro, I host our weekly podcast – Asbestos Knowledge Empire and I am Co-author of Asbestos The Dark Arts and Fear and Loathing of Health and Safety.

Need Help? Request a Call Back

Request a call back from one of our expert Asbestos Consultants who will help you identify what you need

More Asbestos Articles

Reg 1

Call For Softer Asbestos Laws – What Impact Will it Have on Safety?

When designing laws that will protect everyone on a daily basis, people welcome strict and rigid enforcement, if it ensures that they and their families can go about their lives in a safe environment. However, when someone tries to campaign to make the laws on something less harsh, it can be understandably concerning. And that … Read more

Asbestos in school image

Asbestos in Schools – It Has To Go

When you send your child to school, their safety is one of the things that you entrust to the people who work there, having faith that they are charged by the government to help your children stay safe. However, there is something, which some schools would rather hide, and that is the growth of asbestos … Read more

Asbestos surveyor during a refurbishment survey

Asbestos Removal Tax Relief- Does it Qualify?

Asbestos Removal Tax Relief – Does It Qualify? When it comes to removing materials, which contain asbestos from a property, the expenses which can occur as a result of the asbestos removal can be extremely worrying for a company. However, what most people do not realise is that they can actually get some of that … Read more

asbestos in fire

Asbestos and Fire – What Are The Risks?

Asbestos is something which is a major health risk and can cause serious damage to the lungs and the respiratory system following exposure. However, asbestos and fire can make the material pose be a greater risk when damaged in this way. In order to try and help with this, we’re taking a look at some … Read more

Acorn Lower Service 32

What should the recent death of a lady with asbestos-linked cancer teach us about asbestos?

Last year, a Northampton woman died after a short battle with cancer that could have been caused by asbestos. It was an out-of-the-blue illness that was sudden – but could it have been due to asbestos exposure at home or workplace? Asbestos has serious risks Forget what you think you know about asbestos. It’s a … Read more

An asbestos refurbishment survey in action in Northampton

The importance of an asbestos refurbishment survey

Asbestos has been dubbed as a “silent killer” for years now, although it’s an unfortunate fact that it kills more people every year – through asbestos fibres being inhaled – than people who are in road traffic accidents. It has been banned in Britain since 1999, which means any house built or refurbished prior to … Read more

IMG 0527 Small

Asbestos Causing Delays

Asbestos causing delays once again. The A21 is a busy road linking Hastings, Tunbridge Wells and south east London. Works are currently being carried out on a 2.5 mile stretch to widen the road and improve routes to the coast. Bottlenecks were a regular occurrence close to Pembury and campaigners worked for years to get … Read more

What does asbestos look like

BBC Breakfast Interview Mesothelioma Patient, Trevor Barlow

On the morning of the 20th November 2015, BBC Breakfast News published the story of Trevor Barlow a 71 year old gentleman who had been diagnosed with terminal illness due to exposure to asbestos. The interview has encouraged others to consider the effects of exposure to asbestos and highlights the current government plans to assist … Read more

Acorn Analytical Services Asbestos Solutions commecial photography 150x150 1

Asbestos Priority Risk Assessment

Recognising the potential dangers of asbestos, leads owners to responsibly address any potential concerns about the building products used in the construction of their properties. Regulation 4 Duty to manage asbestos in non-domestic premises (CAR2012) requires dutyholders to ensure that “the risk of anyone being exposed to these materials is assessed”. This type of risk assessment is … Read more

Asbestos Sample Testing 1

Unusual Uses of Asbestos

Although widely acknowledged as a hazardous building material, there has been a multitude of unusual uses of asbestos throughout its history. Some may have practical foundations, whereas others seem more sublime. This article explores the variety of uses of asbestos throughout the centuries. Beauty Asbestos has previously been used in several health and beauty products … Read more