Asbestos in our schools

10th March 2020

Asbestos in our schools

In Britain asbestos was widely used in the construction of buildings particularly post-war until its use declined and was banned in 1999. During this period the building of the majority of the country’s state primary and secondary schools took place and today they still contain significant amounts of asbestos.

In Suffolk a Freedom of Information Act (FIA) request to Suffolk County Council revealed 350 schools which could be affected by asbestos.

In 2015 the Government published a review of The Department for Education (DfE) policy on asbestos management in schools. The review acknowledged that ineffective management of asbestos in schools presents risk to children and staff.

Asbestos can occur as ceiling and wall panels which can be easily damaged allowing asbestos fibres to be released into the classroom. These fibres can then be inhaled by teachers or pupils with the possibility of later causing serious diseases such as mesothelioma, a fatal lung cancer.

This year over 5,000 premature deaths will be caused by asbestos exposure, this is more than three times the number of road accident deaths.

The latest national mesothelioma statistics for the education sector from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) show there were 22 school teachers’ deaths from mesothelioma, a year on year increase since 1980. A total of 291 school teachers have died of mesothelioma since 1980 of which 177 have died since 2001. These figures do not include other school based workers such as caretakers, cleaners or other maintenance staff who arguably might be at greater risk.

The Department of Health’s Committee on Carcinogenicity assessed the potential harm caused to children by asbestos exposure. It concluded that due to their longer life expectancy and the long latency period for asbestos related diseases, children have an increased lifetime risk of developing mesothelioma when compared to adults if similarly exposed.

The HSE is the primary regulator in the UK for the management of asbestos and is responsible for enforcing the control of asbestos regulations. It is worrying that a HSE initiative carried out in 2013/14 found that less than 40% of schools sampled in England were aware of the DfE guidance concerning asbestos in schools.

Regulations for managing asbestos in the workplace or public buildings such as schools will never protect individuals from risk so long as asbestos is found in any place where someone could be exposed. Logically the only solution is to remove asbestos from the schools completely.

Other countries are already developing asbestos eradication plans. In 2013, Australia set up an Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency with the specific goal of removing asbestos from public and commercial buildings. In Europe the European Parliament has called for the removal of asbestos from all European public buildings by 2028.

In the UK an all Party Parliamentary Group has recommended new regulations requiring the removal of all the asbestos in schools by 2028 however this is yet to become law and it will be interesting to see whether there is a divergence of approach and regulation post Brexit.

If you believe you have a claim, email james.davies@gotelee.co.uk or call 01473 298159 to discuss how we can help you on a No Win No Fee basis.

Blog Posts

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – FAQS

06/04/2020

As part of its package to support employers, businesses and employees during the COVID-19…

Read More
Upcoming Events

Supply Chain Supper Club – February 2020

05/02/2020

This event is invite only. If you would like to receive an invite, please…

Read More
News Posts

Gotelee’s Covid-19 Risk Assessment

29/07/2020

Please click here to read Gotelee’s Covid-19 Risk Assessment    

Read More

Testimonials

"Jade Shelton was absolutely fantastic!! Professional and proactive at all times."

- JH

"I don't think this house sale would have pulled together without Jo's determination and expertise. Excellent!"

- MT

"We found Rachel Dawson outstanding, polite, professional and caring."

-

"The ease that we could access and speak to Pat Smith - Thank you"

-

"Approachable, very efficient, always willing to take my calls and update me."

- SH

"Jade made the process of buying our first home quick, easy and took the stress out of a new chapter of our lives"

-

"We were very pleased to have Jade as our solicitor, the service was excellent and we felt kept in the loop which minimised stress"

- CT

"I would like to say thank you for your help, support and guidance over the last two and a half years. Obviously should I need further assistance in the future I shall not hesitate to call you guys."

-

"Prompt, helpful, polite and very professional service"

-

"“ This is the second time we have used Tracey for the conveyancing to buy our new home. She is always completely approachable, she has helped us along the way with advice and useful tips that has helped lessen the stress. We have complete confidence in her and would not hesitate to recommend her to our friends and family”.  - Peter Dawes, Cater Dawes Financial Planning "

-

Please select preferred method of contact

* We will only contact you by telephone if you select this as primary form of contact. All web enquiries will be stored on our website for 30 days.