School holidays are the perfect time for asbestos surveys

Acorn_School_Site-26

When you think of the upcoming October half-term holiday, asbestos surveys and asbestos-related works might not be the first thing that spring to mind.

Fortunately, many schools and colleges wisely choose to use their breaks to get on top of their asbestos issues by organising asbestos surveys or carrying out works which – without the proper expertise – could run the risk of disturbing asbestos.

Our professional team of consultants will be hard at work throughout the holiday working with schools to make sure their children, staff and visitors are protected from the dangers of asbestos by assisting them with such projects and carrying out asbestos surveys.

Why should schools have asbestos surveys?

Asbestos was widely used in constructing schools in the past but poor structural maintenance and vandalism make schools more vulnerable than other buildings to the risk of release of asbestos fibres.

The truth is one of the biggest risks faced by schools and colleges built before 2000 is that asbestos lurking within their buildings may be disturbed either during maintenance or construction works. Outside of these works, schools also have the added risk that children may accidentally damage parts of their buildings which could also lead to asbestos being disturbed.

As a result, it is imperative that all schools can identify the types of asbestos on their properties and where they are located so they can manage them safely and by far the best way to do this is by having an asbestos survey.

To give you an idea of the scale of the asbestos problem in UK schools we have the world’s highest death rate for teachers from mesothelioma – a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. On average between 200 and 300 people also die each year from exposure to asbestos as school children. Tragically, children are particularly vulnerable to developing mesothelioma. A five-year-old who is exposed to asbestos is five times more likely to contract mesothelioma than someone who was exposed in their thirties.

What advice are schools given about asbestos?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) offers comprehensive guidance to schools about managing asbestos.

It makes it extremely clear that it is extremely important that any asbestos present in schools or colleges must be located and managed effectively.

Failure to comply with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 is a criminal offence. The HSE will investigate incidents where dutyholders fail to manage the risks and take enforcement action where appropriate. If schools fail to manage their asbestos correctly they will put people’s lives in danger and could be prosecuted by the HSE.

The National Education Union (NEU) is also very vocal when it comes to what schools should do when it comes to asbestos.

The NEU believes that asbestos surveys should be carried out in all schools unless there is a good reason not to do so.

It says many education employers will previously have carried out some forms of survey, in particular the ‘condition surveys’ required under the asset management planning process but they  should not automatically assume that such surveys satisfy the requirements of the duty to manage asbestos.

The NEU and the Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) both have concerns about the quality of many asbestos surveys and advise that surveys should be undertaken by competent personnel.

The NEU strongly recommends that schools should only use surveyors, like Acorn, which are accredited by the UK’s national accreditation body UKAS.

The union also says that copies of asbestos surveys should be readily accessible to staff so they can monitor the condition of their work areas and report any damage to any areas that contain asbestos. The NEU believes this information should be on permanent display in the staff room.

How can Acorn help schools?

As we mentioned earlier, we provide asbestos surveys including asbestos management surveys which is usually the survey you undertake as the first step towards safely managing asbestos in your building.

A management survey is not very intrusive and includes the sampling of suspected asbestos materials. It will generally include visual inspections of ceilings, walls, floors, accessible ducts, service risers and lofts. Our experienced and qualified asbestos surveyors will inspect all areas of your building to locate any surface-level asbestos-containing materials. It is best for schools to carry out asbestos surveys and asbestos-related works during their holidays because this is when there are far fewer people on site.

We’re looking forward to working with lots of schools and colleges over the October half-term holiday. If you would like your school or college to be one of them don’t hesitate – get in touch with us 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   

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 materials in the workplace.

Monitoring asbestos materials in the workplace

Current health and safety practices mean that asbestos materials found in the workplace are left alone if they are intact, but arguments have been made for asbestos monitoring practices to be altered. Given that asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) naturally degrade over time, and many were installed thirty years ago or more, the risk of exposure to … Read more

Asbestos diseases

Asbestos diseases: the destructive results of asbestos exposure

Asbestos diseases don’t generally show themselves until several decades after the initial exposure, which is why we’ve seen a significant rise in the number of deaths from asbestos-related disease over the last 50 years. If you’re worried that your health may have been compromised by historic asbestos exposure, or you currently work with the substance … Read more

Abestos in Hospitals.

Asbestos in hospitals: a complex situation to manage

According to the BBC, 94% of hospitals in London alone contain asbestos.¹ The prolific use of asbestos in hospitals around the UK has created a complex issue for those tasked with managing it, but crucially, it’s a problem that threatens the health of hospital staff, patients, and visitors. Extensively used in hospital boiler rooms and … Read more

disposal dump garbage

Asbestos fly tipping and the threat to public health

The dumping of rubbish in our country lanes, towns, and cities, and specifically asbestos fly tipping, has become a serious health issue in the UK and holds particularly worrying ramifications for members of the public. In fact, figures from StatsWales show that 304 cases of asbestos fly tipping in Wales alone were recorded in 2016-17 … Read more

Asbestos Awareness Training Session image

How asbestos awareness training can help you at work

Asbestos has caused severe illness and high mortality rates around the world for many decades, partly due to a lack of asbestos awareness among workers and their employers. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics show in 2016 alone, 2,595 victims died from mesothelioma, an aggressive form of lung cancer attributed to asbestos exposure. The nature … Read more

Acorn Lower Service 23

Triumph in court for UK asbestos victims

A landmark ruling in the Court of Appeal may help asbestos victims obtain compensation. Graham Dring, acting on behalf of the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum, led a challenge against one of the world’s largest manufacturers and suppliers of asbestos products, Cape Intermediate Holdings. The Appeal Court ruling is a significant step towards establishing the … Read more

Careers 1

Secondary asbestos exposure and the fight for justice

The use of asbestos was so widespread between the 1930s and the 1980s that workers in many industries were at risk of suffering severe ill health. Secondary asbestos exposure was also a significant threat for their wives and families. With little in the way of protective equipment or clothing, asbestos fibres and dust were carried … Read more

Acorn School Site 49 Medium

Safely remove asbestos: Why you need licensed contractors

Asbestos is a known human carcinogen, and as such, presents a significant danger to anyone who comes into contact with it. This is why it’s essential to hire licensed contractors to safely remove asbestos in many instances. It prioritises health and safety, and is required by law for high-risk asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). If you’re a … Read more

asbestos fire

Asbestos in a fire – is it a serious risk to public health?

If asbestos fibre and dust are released into the air during a fire, it can cause serious health issues for anyone nearby. The presence of asbestos in a fire needs to be carefully managed to minimise the risk to firefighters and the public, as once airborne, the microscopic fibres are easily inhaled. The sharp and … Read more

Asbestos in schools

Is it possible to manage asbestos in schools?

The presence of asbestos in schools has long been a serious issue in the UK, and one that continues to cause huge concern for the health and welfare of our children. An estimated 75% of schools still contain the substance, and more people die from asbestos-related diseases every year than in road traffic accidents. Health … Read more