It has been widely reported on the BBC and various papers that asbestos in schools is putting children and staff at risk.
Following a report by The Asbestos Training & Consultancy Association, (ACTA), it was found that none of the 16 schools surveyed are meeting their legal duties. Analysts found that too few head teachers managed asbestos properly: many rely on containment plans more than a decade old.
The report was commissioned following MP’s, union leaders and families urging the association to undertake the report. The Government refused to fund the venture.
The audit found that some schools had asbestos particles in the air and others allowed workmen to disturb the material and were not taking steps to manage the potential threat. ACTA said that the asbestos had been damaged in more than half of the schools visited leaving it potentially dangerous.
Many schools built between the 1940’s and the 1980’s used asbestos as insulation or fire protection. This is estimated to cover 75% of all schools in the UK. It is also estimated that 178 teachers have already died of mesothelioma and this is prompting Teaching Unions such as the NUT to call for more stringent measures to ensure that asbestos is dealt with properly in schools.
The Governments policy is for schools to leave asbestos in place and it should be managed rather than removed. This contradicts the ATCA report, which states that schools lack the skill or resources to deal with this problem.
Clearly the cost of removing asbestos from all schools would be hugely expensive but when weighed against the health and lives of staff and pupils the cost becomes irrelevant.
WE Solicitors are currently representing a former pupil who contracted mesothlioma and sadly passed away. WE believe the asbestos came from the school she attended and we are currently obtaining evidence from former pupils to confirm that fire doors made of asbestos and pipework lagged in asbestos were all damaged.