Government Report on School Asbestos

In February Safeline wrote a blog piece on the School asbestos worries, since we wrote that news there has been a new Government Report on School Asbestos.  Published on 27/02/2017 the report by the Education Funding Agency (EFA), found that around 20 per cent of schools were were “not fully compliant” with asbestos procedures “in that they did not have fully documented plans, processes and procedures in place at the time of the data collection, or did not know if asbestos was present.”

This was a second hammer blow within a few weeks as the  National Audit Office (NAO) found that “asbestos is a significant, and potentially dangerous, issue in many buildings, including most schools”.

According to the National Union of Teachers, 319 teachers have died from mesothelioma since 1980. It is estimated that for every teacher’s death, nine children will die, meaning over 100 people will die every year in the UK as a result of exposure when they were at school, A voluntary survey was sent to schools by the Government between January and March last year, but only a quarter of schools responded. In a nutshell, this means that the actual number of schools that do not comply with asbestos safety procedures is completely unknown and is considered likely to be far higher based on the failure of schools to actually report back to the government, the report also highlighted that there is likely be a “selection bias” towards schools that have already identified an asbestos risk and therefore is “already managing asbestos well”.

The DfE responded to the Government Report on School Asbestos with the following statement;

“The health and safety of children and staff in our schools is vital – that’s why we are investing £23 billion in school buildings by 2021. This will help ensure asbestos is managed safely and that the amount in school buildings continues to reduce over time. We have published updated guidance for schools following the Government Report on School Asbestos on how to manage asbestos and the results of a survey which showed the majority of respondents have procedures in place. We have followed up with the schools which responded and did not have these procedures in place, and they have all provided assurances they are now compliant with Health and Safety Executive regulations.”

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