Is your school using the summer holidays to get to grips with asbestos?

Acorn_School_Site-6 (Medium)

When you think of where asbestos might be lurking in the UK you might picture prefab houses or garages or possibly post-wartime office blocks and factories.

The last place any of us would ever want to picture asbestos are the places where we send millions of our children every day – our schools. Is your school using the summer holidays to get to grips with asbestos?

The terrifying truth is more than 75% of our schools contain asbestos – all of that asbestos is old and much of it is deteriorating.

Why should your school get to grips with asbestos?

Between 1945 and 1975 alone – when the use of asbestos was at its height – more than 14,000 schools were built and many of these contain asbestos insulating board products.

As a result, between 2009 and 2019 more than 200 UK teachers died from the effects of being exposed to asbestos and it is estimated that for every teacher fatality, nine ex-pupils can also expect to fall victim to the deadly substance.

The reason for this is that children are particularly vulnerable to developing the cancer mesothelioma – which is caused by asbestos in 90% of cases.

A five-year-old who is exposed to asbestos is reported to be five times more likely to contract mesothelioma than an adult in their 30s. It is estimated that between 200 and 300 people die in the UK every year as a result of being exposed to asbestos as school children.

Teachers’ unions have labelled the situation scandalous and have argued that such figures prove the Government’s policy of leaving asbestos in situ has failed.

So, why does the legacy of asbestos continue to haunt our school buildings?

Well, the current guidance from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that as long as asbestos is in good condition and is not likely to be disturbed it is better to manage it for the remaining life of the school rather than to remove it. Consequently, most of the asbestos remains in our schools and will have to be managed for a long time into the future.

get to grips with asbestos

How should your school get to grips with asbestos?

The key thing here is management. Some schools have effective systems of asbestos management in place but many do not. Many may have some form of an asbestos register, however many are not kept up to date and accurate.

This needs to be done because asbestos was widely used in schools so you are likely to find it throughout a school’s estate.

It is most commonly found in asbestos spray coatings which were applied on concrete walls, ceiling and steelwork for fire protection or acoustic insulation. In asbestos insulation lagging particularly around pipework, boilers and ducts. Also in asbestos insulating boards heavily used for ceiling tiles, walls, boxing and fire breaks. You will also find it in asbestos cement products such as wall and ceiling panels, corrugated roof panels, tiles, gutters, pipes and decorate plaster-type finishes.

The presence of asbestos in schools is such an important topic that earlier this year it formed a major feature in the Education Executive – or EdExec – publication which is targeted at key decision makers in the UK’s schools and academies.

The feature highlighted the dangers of asbestos and urged schools to make sure they were up to date with the latest guidance.

At Acorn Analytical Services we realise how daunting it can be for schools to get to grips with dealing with the asbestos on their premises even with the Department for Education’s guidance for schools on where asbestos may be located.

This is why we have put together an easy to download checklist to help you check if your school is compliant with asbestos law.

To make things even easier we also offer a complimentary asbestos audit for schools which is undertaken by one of our qualified asbestos consultants.

With the summer holidays fast approaching now is one of the best times to get to grips with asbestos issues in educational establishments.

On the whole, asbestos management surveys tend to be only minorly intrusive but if any further work is required it is far better for this to be scheduled during the holidays when hundreds of staff and students aren’t on the premises.

So, if you want further information about how we can help your school click here today.

Acorn is a professional asbestos consultancy helping organisations deal with asbestos compliance using asbestos surveysasbestos air testing, and asbestos removal management. 

Please call one of the team, or use the online form to obtain your free quotation. If you would like further information or advice on asbestos and asbestos training, contact the team 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

Acorn Lower Service 55

What happens when asbestos goes wrong?

Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, has been a staple in the construction industry for decades due to its heat-resistant properties. However, when mishandled, it can lead to severe health risks, including lung cancer and mesothelioma. Unfortunately, cases of asbestos mismanagement are still prevalent today, despite the wealth of information and regulations available to prevent such … Read more

asbestos an issue

Unmasking the Truth: Is Asbestos An Issue for UK Employers in 2023?

Is asbestos an issue for employers today, even a decade after regulations tightened? The answer, shockingly, remains a resounding yes. It’s easy to dismiss asbestos as a problem of the past, but the reality is that the spectre of asbestos still haunts many workplaces in the UK in 2023. Asbestos – A Lingering Threat Even … Read more

Asbestos removal 2

Acorn Help Raise Money for Help The Heroes

Saturday 4th May 2013 saw the second Tough Mudder event at Boughton House, Kettering. Taking part and helping to raise money for Help The Heroes was Acorn Analytical Services Director – Neil Munro. Tough Mudder® events are hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by Special Forces to test all around strength, stamina, determination, and camaraderie. … Read more

Acorn Lower Service 39

Firms fined for asbestos exposure risk at scrap yard and naval training base

A number of workers and Royal Navy personnel were exposed to asbestos after pipes lined with the dangerous material were left on a roadside before being put in an open skip and transferred to a salvage yard, a court has heard. The pipes, lined with asbestos insulation, were removed from HMS Sultan naval training base … Read more

DSCF0003 1024x764 1

Council in court for ignoring asbestos threat in school

Thurrock Council has been fined after admitting to failures in how it managed asbestos across its schools. Basildon Crown Court heard today (1 March 2013) that despite being made aware of asbestos concerns in a boiler room at Stifford Clays Junior School, no action was taken. A specialist contractor tasked with carrying out an asbestos … Read more

Asbestos demolition 3

Building owner fined for asbestos exposure

An industrial property owner has been prosecuted for exposing untrained workers to dangerous asbestos fibres following a series of failings at a building in Newport. In a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Abergavenny Magistrates’ Court heard today (21 February) that Mr Nasimul Karbani, from Middlesex, employed two workers and then helped … Read more

Management survey 1

Hospital trust in court for asbestos failures

A North East hospital trust has been fined after contractors were unwittingly exposed to asbestos fibres at Sunderland Eye Infirmary. Sunderland Magistrates’ Court heard today that over the weekend of 24/25 March 2012, contractors at the infirmary on Queen Alexandra Road drilled through door surrounds on a ward to install cables. The following day concerns … Read more

Acorn Banners 23

Swansea engineering firm and building contractor fined for asbestos exposure

Workers were exposed to dangerous asbestos fibres following a catalogue of errors by an engineering company and a building firm during a demolition and refurbishment project in Swansea, a court has heard. The project was badly managed, with untrained staff put in charge of the operation, and was underpinned by inadequate surveys for the presence … Read more