In 2016 we ask our customers to support a petition to improved local authority budgets to speed up the removal of hazardous Asbestos Containing Materials from schools and colleges across the UK. In 2017 the progress still appears to be slow with a recent report stating that nearly one in five schools are failing to manage asbestos properly.
Whilst it should be made clear that certain types of asbestos can be managed or encapsulated, there are still forms of asbestos remaining in schools which is hazardous if disturbed including asbestos insulating board and pipe insulation such a flock. Simply rubbing against these materials can release fibres which a known to lead to life limiting illnesses such a mesothelioma and asbestosis. This is especially the case where asbestos containing materials have been allowed to degrade or have been damaged.
A report from the National Union of Teachers (NUT) stated that at least 319 teachers have died from mesothelioma since 1980, and 205 of those deaths have occurred since 2001. The report also goes on to say that real numbers are likely to be much higher because these figures do not include anyone over the age of 75. In addition, the report does not take into consideration children or maintenance staff who may have been exposed to asbestos.
Reduced productivity & Fines
There have been a number cases recently where schools have had to either close completely or partially due to issues surrounding asbestos. In July 2017 alone Thurstable School in Essex was closed when a kitchen fire revealed previously unmanaged asbestos containing materials and in the same month Balfour Beatty was fined a total of £1.2m for exposing workers to asbestos in a school ceiling in North East London. Both of these cases could have been avoided if proper asbestos surveys had been conducted.