There is concern that there is such a vast number of English schools with potential asbestos problems that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will not be able to cope with the demands of carrying out inspections and asbestos surveys.
It is thought that around 90% of all school buildings in England contain some form of asbestos, whether in the wall and ceiling tiles, or used as lagging around pipes and boilers. Now, after an investigation into asbestos in schools last year, nearly 700 English schools have been referred to the HSE over concerns that they have failed to safely manage asbestos, which could put pupils and staff at great risk.
The asbestos management assurance process, which the government launched last year, saw that 2,570 of the 2,952 school bodies that fully responded reported to having asbestos in at least one school building. 676 schools have now been referred by the Department for Education (DfE) to the HSE for not providing enough evidence that asbestos was being managed to the standards set.
A 2018 study found that deaths from mesothelioma were five times more likely in teachers, and three times more likely amongst nurses, when compared to the rest of the population. This goes to show how important it is for asbestos to be surveyed and managed effectively in educational establishments and medical buildings, as well as making those working in them to be made aware of asbestos and the dangers of asbestos.
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