Schools warned about asbestos management

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An asbestos inspection programme resulted in 20 schools being issued with improvement notices, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has revealed.

HSE inspectors visited a random sample of 153 non-local authority schools between April 2013 and January 2014 to check they were using the correct asbestos management procedures.

While 71% of the schools were required to take no further action following the inspections, 29% were issued with written advice. Among them were 20 schools that were subject to enforcement action.

Problems identified by HSE officials included a lack of proper asbestos awareness training for staff and poor quality asbestos management plans.

Despite this, inspectors concluded there had been an overall improvement in the way schools manage asbestos risks since the last time a similar programme was undertaken in 2010/11.

Geoff Cox, head of the HSE’s Public Services Sector, welcomed the “encouraging” news, but warned that there was still work to do.

“Schools should not be under any illusion,” he said. “Managing asbestos requires ongoing attention. Schools now have access to a wealth of guidance setting out clear and straightforward steps to achieve and maintain compliance.

“Where dutyholders fall below acceptable standards, HSE has taken, and will continue to take, enforcement action.”

Asbestos is known to be an issue in educational establishments after a Parliamentary report warned the substance is present in 75% of schools and concluded that more than 140 teachers had died in the past decade as a result of exposure to asbestos fibres.

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Published: 24th June 2014