Schools lack asbestos discipline
Schools are failing to comply with basic legislative requirements to manage the risks form asbestos in their buildings, according to a pilot survey by the Asbestos Testing and Consultants Association (ATaC).
The survey initially involved 12 volunteer schools with asbestos on their premises, found that not one was fully compliant with HSE guidance and only four could be described as having “an adequate standard” of asbestos management.
While all schools had asbestos surveys, the information they contained varied in quality. Surveys in nine schools did not support an effective management system, according to the ATaC auditors. Either these surveys had not attempted to identify all the accessible asbestos or they were superficial, misleading or outdated. There was evidence in six schools that the flaws could have resulted in asbestos being disturbed during maintenance work, which would have exposed contractors and contaminated the premises.
None of the schools had a site specific written asbestos management plan developed from their survey information, though some had generic plans. Two schools did not know who was in charge of asbestos management and, in most schools, staff who were expected to manage asbestos had received poor training or none.
“Although the sample is small, the flaws highlighted reflect what the NUT has found to be the case over many years – that systems of asbestos management in schools fall far short of expectations” said Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT).