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MANAGEMENT OF ASBESTOS IN SCHOOL BUILDINGS

HSE report finds action needed on ‘system build’ asbestos by 20% of councils

Many schools in England have ‘system buildings’. In some cases the structural frame is fire-proofed with asbestos materials. HSE guidance sets out simple solutions that have been shown to manage the risks from these buildings.

An HSE survey report found that of the 152 councils in England with responsibility for providing education 110 satisfied HSE (via online survey) that they had systems in place to meet their duties under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.

Enforcement notices served on 6% of councils

Visits were then paid to the remaining 42 authorities to check on the management of risks. HSE inspectors had to provide advice on practical improvements to 32 councils and no formal enforcement action was taken.

However, in the case of 10 authorities enforcement notices were served requiring improvements in asbestos management standards. These covered issues such as training and the need to provide information for tradespeople carrying out work at the schools.

Rosalind Roberts, the head of HSE’s public services sector, said:

“We are satisfied that most local authorities were taking their responsibilities seriously when it comes to managing asbestos in system build schools.

Where local authorities had fallen below acceptable standards, we took action to secure improvements. There are key lessons for the whole education sector. Those responsible for managing asbestos must be properly trained and management plans which set out the measures to be taken to manage the risks must be in place and readily available.

If asbestos is properly managed, remains undamaged and undisturbed then its presence alone should not be a cause for concern. However, there is no room for complacency; managing asbestos in buildings needs effective and ongoing attention. Those most likely to be exposed are tradesmen who may disturb it through their work – so it is essential that their work is carefully planned and managed.”

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