Management of Asbestos in Schools: A Comprehensive Analysis

Management of asbestos in schools

Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, has been a significant concern in the UK, especially in schools. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recently conducted a study on the management of asbestos in schools, and the findings were quite revealing. However, it’s essential to note that the study only examined 421 schools out of the 32,163 schools across the UK, representing a mere 1.3% of the total. This percentage is quite small to draw a general indication of conditions across a variety of schools.

The Department for Education (DfE), the Scottish and Welsh governments provided HSE with lists of schools known to have buildings containing Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs). This approach raises questions about the randomness of the study as the schools were not randomly selected but were working from a provided list of schools.

The HSE Report on Management of asbestos in school buildings 2022/23

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report on asbestos management in school buildings for the year 2022/23 is a comprehensive document that outlines the findings of 421 inspections conducted across schools in Great Britain. The report aims to assess how schools are fulfilling their legal obligations to manage asbestos effectively.

The inspections revealed that most schools were in compliance with their legal duties and had effective systems in place to manage and monitor the condition of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). However, a small percentage of schools (7%) had significant failings in their systems, necessitating enforcement notices to rectify them. Most of these failings were related to improvements needed in their management plans or surveys.

A single visit identified a risk of exposure to asbestos, requiring prohibition notices to be served, which prevented access until the asbestos was safely removed from the area. These were in boiler rooms, which pupils and teaching staff do not have access to.

The report also identified common areas for improvement, which included schools not having an up-to-date survey on site that clearly shows the location of asbestos throughout the estate, registers not clearly indicating if remedial action identified during a survey has been completed and records updated, and schools not having a clear and easily understandable asbestos management plan in place that is specific to their site.

The report further discusses the methodology of the inspections, demographics of the schools visited, enforcement actions taken, asbestos management measures, roles and responsibilities of school staff members, training and support for in-house staff, and management of contractors.

The HSE report concludes that while most schools are following the relevant guidance and complying with the requirements of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, there are areas where improvements can be made. Schools are encouraged to reflect on the findings of this report and ensure their systems are suitably robust and regularly reviewed.

Management of Asbestos in Schools Opinions To Consider

The HSE report, titled “Asbestos Management in Schools Inspection Initiative 2019/2020,” revealed that 20% of the schools inspected had failed to provide evidence of having a comprehensive asbestos management plan. This finding is concerning, considering the potential health risks associated with asbestos exposure.

The report also highlighted that 90% of the schools had asbestos materials in good condition, and 98% of the schools had taken appropriate measures to prevent accidental damage to asbestos. However, these figures contradict the recent “Damage Report” issued by Start Software, which examined 3.5 million asbestos samples across more than 600,000 surveys in 700,000 buildings. The Damage Report found that 55% of asbestos in schools had damage, i.e., not in a good condition.

The Importance of Management of Asbestos in Schools

The importance of asbestos management in schools cannot be overstated. Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, was widely used in the construction of buildings, including schools, until the late 20th century due to its heat-resistant properties and durability. However, when disturbed, asbestos fibres can become airborne and, if inhaled, can lead to serious health conditions such as lung cancer, and mesothelioma.

Children, due to their developing bodies and longer life expectancy, are at a significantly higher risk if exposed to asbestos. A study by the UK’s Committee on Carcinogenicity (CoC) found that a five-year-old child exposed to asbestos is five times more likely to contract mesothelioma than someone exposed to asbestos in their 30s. This stark statistic underscores the critical need for effective asbestos management in schools.

However, managing asbestos in schools presents unique challenges. Unlike adult environments such as offices or industrial sites, schools are dynamic, bustling places filled with curious children who may unknowingly disturb asbestos-containing materials. Furthermore, the nature of school buildings, many of which are ageing and subject to wear and tear, can make the task of managing asbestos even more complex.

Schools often have a variety of different buildings, from modern structures to older ones, some dating back to the Victorian era. These older buildings are more likely to contain asbestos, and their age and condition can make the management of asbestos more difficult. Regular maintenance and refurbishment activities can also disturb asbestos, increasing the risk of exposure.

Therefore, it is crucial that schools have robust asbestos management plans in place. These should include regular surveys to identify and monitor the condition of asbestos-containing materials, clear procedures for managing asbestos safely, and training for staff to ensure they understand the risks and know what to do if they suspect they have found asbestos.

The Role of Acorn Analytical Services & Management of Asbestos in Schools

At Acorn Analytical Services, we understand the critical role we play in managing asbestos in schools. As a UKAS accredited asbestos consultancy, we are dedicated to ensuring the safety of your school environment. Our team of experienced and certified professionals is committed to providing comprehensive asbestos management services.

We offer a range of services, including asbestos surveys, asbestos sample testing, asbestos air testing and asbestos removal management, all designed to help schools effectively manage their asbestos risks. Our expertise and experience in asbestos management are second to none, and we take pride in our ability to provide solutions that ensure schools are safe environments for learning and teaching.

Compliance with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 is not just a legal requirement but a moral obligation to protect the health and safety of our children, teachers, and other school staff. These regulations require duty holders, including school managers, to manage asbestos in non-domestic premises effectively.

At Acorn, we’re here to help you meet these requirements. We work closely with you to understand your specific needs and provide tailored solutions that ensure you’re not only compliant with the law but also doing everything possible to protect your students and staff from the risks associated with asbestos.

Remember, managing asbestos is not a one-time task but an ongoing responsibility. With Acorn by your side, you can be confident that you’re taking the right steps to manage asbestos effectively in your school. We’re here to provide the support, expertise, and services you need to make your school a safe place for everyone.

A Call to Action: Ensuring Safe Learning Environments through Effective Asbestos Management

The management of asbestos in schools is a multifaceted issue that demands a comprehensive and strategic approach. The recent HSE report offers some insights into the current state of asbestos management in schools, but it’s evident that there’s more work to be done. The fact that the study wasn’t a true random spot check, coupled with the contradiction between the HSE report and the Damage Report issued by Start Software, underscores the need for more comprehensive and unbiased studies on asbestos management in schools.

As a UKAS accredited asbestos consultancy, we at Acorn Analytical Services are dedicated to helping schools manage asbestos effectively and safely. By offering comprehensive asbestos management services, we’re playing a pivotal role in ensuring that schools are safe environments for learning and teaching.

The management of asbestos in schools isn’t just a legal requirement—it’s a moral obligation. We have a duty to protect the health and safety of our children, teachers, and other school staff. This task requires the collective efforts of all stakeholders, including schools, asbestos management companies like us at Acorn, and regulatory bodies such as the HSE.

Together, we can ensure that our schools are not only places of learning but also safe havens for our children.

If you’re concerned about asbestos in your school or need help managing it effectively, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Acorn Analytical Services. Contact us today for a consultation or request a quote.

Neil Munro

I work in a dual role at Acorn Analytical Services focused primarily on growing and leading the business from our Northampton office base. My focus is on overseeing all sales, marketing and financial activities from Northampton. I assist clients with high-level asbestos management strategies and training. Together with Ian Stone I host our weekly podcast – Asbestos Knowledge Empire and I'm 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

Asbestos consultancy, Acorn Analytical Services, will be raising money for Mesothelioma UK

Asbestos consultancy gears up for 24-hour fundraising challenge

FOR many years the team at Acorn Analytical Services has been an avid supporter of Mesothelioma UK, the only charity in the UK dedicated to supporting people affected by this deadly disease. Mesothelioma is a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos fibres and shockingly still kills around 5,000 people each year in the UK – … Read more

Asbestos Surveyors

The Ultimate Guide to Asbestos Surveyors: Why Your Safety Depends on It

Asbestos, once a ‘miracle material’, now poses severe health risks. Uncover the significance of asbestos surveys in the UK and why your safety depends on it.

Asbestos: Having the right consultancy in your corner has never been more important

‘Having the right consultancy to help you manage asbestos has never been more important’

A REPORT written by asbestos expert and director of Acorn Analytical Services, Ian Stone, has highlighted the worrying state of asbestos in the UK. The Annual Asbestos Industry Review provides a unique insight into the industry and a snapshot of the work being done by Acorn Analytical Services – one of the largest independent consultancies … Read more

Management of asbestos in schools

Management of Asbestos in Schools: A Comprehensive Analysis

In this blog post, we delve into the critical issue of asbestos management in UK schools, the recent HSE report, and the role of Acorn Analytical Services in ensuring safe learning environments.

Asbestos: Dispelling 3 common myths

Is your business fully compliant with the latest asbestos regulations?

HOW much do you really know about asbestos? If your building was built before 1999, have you ever had it checked? If you know it’s there, do you know for sure that you’re compliant with the latest rules and regulations around asbestos management? If the answer to either of these questions is ‘no’ it’s time … Read more

Asbestos in fire

Act Now: Uncover the Silent Perils of Asbestos in Fire-Damaged Buildings – A Deep Dive into the Brighton Hotel Incident

Asbestos in fire situations poses significant health risks. Understand the dangers, especially in textured coatings, and the need for expert remediation.

Acorn Analytical Services director Ian Stone has worked in the asbestos industry for 20 years.

#ActNowOnAsbestos: How our FREE training sessions will help raise awareness

ASBESTOS is firmly in the headlines once again and we’re delighted to see an open and very frank discussion finally taking place about the material itself, the risks around mesothelioma and the steps we should all be taking to protect ourselves. At Acorn Analytical Services it’s something we’ve been talking about for years and as … Read more

Asbestos: Having the right consultancy in your corner has never been more important

‘Supporting #ActNowOnAsbestos is the right thing for us to do’

Last weekend The Sunday Times launched #ActNowOnAsbestos, a hard-hitting campaign which urges the Government to take urgent action to protect people from the UK’s asbestos epidemic. The campaign makes important recommendations to help protect members of the public from the hidden dangers of asbestos, which poses a serious threat to our health and wellbeing more … Read more

Ian Stone, director of asbestos management consultancy, Acorn Analytical Services

‘We finally have hope – hope that those in authority will take notice, take action and save lives’

Media statement in response to the launch of the Sunday Times Campaign, Act Now on Asbestos: Ian Stone, Director of Acorn Analytical Services, said: “For ten years Acorn Analytical Services has been on the front line of the UK’s battle with asbestos, banging the drum for change and fighting to raise awareness of the sheer … Read more

Using our success to highlight the dangers of asbestos

How we’re using our success to drive home the dangers of asbestos

The whole team at asbestos consultancy Acorn Analytical Services was over the moon to walk away with not one, but two awards at the prestigious Northamptonshire SME Awards earlier this month. Directors Neil Munro, Paul Knights and Sam Savage were in Daventry for the event which celebrates the work of businesses across Northamptonshire and their … Read more