ASBESTOS MANAGEMENT IN SCHOOLS
Protect teachers and our children. No Time To Lose -Acting Now!
Exposure to asbestos fibres can cause both lung cancer and another fatal cancer of the lining of the lung called mesothelioma. Even low levels and short duration of exposure can cause mesothelioma and every year over 4,000 people die as a result of past exposure to asbestos. The disease is invariably fatal with most victims dying within 18 months of diagnosis. It often does not appear until around 10 – 40 years after the person first breathes in the dust.
However, it is not a problem that is confined to industrial workers, nor is it a problem of the past. More than 75 per cent of Britain’s state schools contain asbestos. Much of that is poorly maintained, meaning that children and staff are potentially exposed to this killer fibre. Over 140 school teachers have died from mesothelioma in the past ten years. An unknown number of cleaners, admin staff and caretakers have also died. The number of children who have died as a result of exposure to asbestos while at school is unknown but in the US it was estimated that for every teacher’s death nine children will die. That would mean that over 100 people die every year in the UK as a result of exposure when they were at school.
While we cannot change the past exposure, we can prevent any more children and teachers being exposed to asbestos.
Health and Safety professionals, asbestos experts, organisations, public sectors, schools and parents, etc.. need to work together and promote broader collaboration of health and safety and asbestos management in Great Britain in line with HSE’s Helping Great Britain work well strategy of Acting together and Tackling ill health.
How do we know that you manage asbestos risk adequately in your school? How do we manage the risks?
Key elements of an asbestos management system
1 Know where it is -asbestos survey
2 Record where it is
3 Complete a risk assessment
4 Create an asbestos management plan – managing the risks
5 Management of Change (MOC) -ensure work are authorized under a Permit to Work system, and risks associated with working on ACMs are adequately controlled
6 Inform those who are potentially exposed or who may disturb ACMs
7 Ongoing Training and Education
8 Reporting, investigating of asbestos incidents and learning from
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012
Asbestos in schools – The need for action
This report, from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health, investigates the scale of the issue and makes recommendations about stopping this time-bomb in our schools. Find more at:
HSE asbestos checklist for schools
HSE – Managing asbestos in schools
HSE – Asbestos related disease
HSE’s Questionnaire survey on asbestos management in local authority system built schools – Alphabetical list of responses – July 2010
Department for Education (DfE) – Asbestos management in schools – Guidance for school leaders, governors, local authorities and academy trusts from Education and Skills Funding Agency.
HSE’s asbestos safety management resources:
HSE’s free Beware Asbestos web app providing practical advice for working with asbestos, including images in the asbestos gallery which can be used for the purpose of promoting asbestos safety awareness in schools
HSE asbestos advice:
IOSH’s No Time to Lose(NTTL) asbestos awareness resources:
Here you’ll find a factsheet, posters, presentations and more – everything you need to engage and inform the workforce.
Asbestos in system buildings
Asbestos in schools website
Michael Lees’ wife Gina was a nursery school teacher. She was exposed to asbestos at school and died of mesothelioma at the age of 51. It soon became clear in his investigation into his wife’s death that the lack of asbestos management and the resultant exposures of staff and pupils in schools is a national problem. In the twelve years since her death he has campaigned tirelessly to make teachers and students at schools safe from the dangers of asbestos. Before dedicating to asbestos risk control, Michael was a pilot in the Royal Air Force and then a successful artist.
Asbestos Management in Schools Data Collection Report
Joint Union Asbestos Committee
United Kingdom Accreditation Service – asbestos survey
Be a supporter to IOSH’s No Time to Lose(NTTL) Campaign! Read our story: