Asbestos Management in Schools: Protecting Your Children!

This is a huge bone of contention with me and many others in the industry at the moment.


We’re seeing so many reports and media stories about past and present asbestos exposures taking place in schools. We’re hearing it in this country amongst others. This is a bad sign as we seem to be pretty good (in some respects) at managing asbestos in the UK- so who knows how bad the other countries have it!


We have the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 to adhere to within the UK- which are relatively ‘strict’ compared with our European counterparts and also the fact we have the regulations in place when some countries and continents not only don’t have controls in place, they also still work with asbestos!


I mean, thinking outside the box here, the words ASBESTOS and SCHOOL should NOT be in the same sentence. The last place we want any asbestos exposure at all, is in the presence of small children with developing lungs.


The nature of asbestos and the millions (yes millions) of fibres contained in such small areas is they absolutely love to get buried and stuck in the lining of our lungs when inhaled.


Friable asbestos is the devil.


Asbestos in schools is absolutely terrible yes, but come on, I’m a realist. I understand the boom in the UK between 1950-1970. Post war Britain had some huge money to spend- probably not ours to begin with but that’s another story!


So older buildings, including schools, should have an asbestos management plan in place. Do they all? Probably not, given we are still seeing asbestos exposures and asbestos ‘incidents’ in our educational system today!


My advice then moving forward for any responsible party within schools (head, chair, board etc);

  1. Find out the age of your buildings, only if they were built pre-2000 then;
  2. Employ a third party asbestos consultant;
  3. They will prepare an Asbestos Management Plan (we’ll be writing a piece on this);
  4. Set up an asbestos ‘action plan’;
  5. Employ third party (accredited and competent) asbestos surveyors;
  6. Undertake a series of Asbestos Management Surveys to get the ball rolling;
  7. Review what Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) you have;
  8. Put a plan in place to manage, remediate or remove these items;
  9. Regularly review and update this information (documents, procedures and register).


One of the crucial elements, which WE understand entirely, is the above information will depend entirely on your annual budgets- presumably building/facilities maintenance or similar.


Well, working with an asbestos consultant (such as ourselves) will enable those discussions to take place. We understand the costs of the work required and also the inherent risk of asbestos, so we are probably in the best position to advise on these such situations.


Random fact about asbestos in schools: ‘back in the day’ (1960’s and 1970’s) we manufactured notice boards out of Asbestos Insulating Board (AIB)- full of Amosite Asbestos and extremely dangerous! It was so wide spread and common, by the 1990’s there was a study conducted on how much asbestos ‘fibre release’ would occur if multiple drawing pins were stuck into an AIB notice board! Go on, Google it- ‘AIB and drawing pins’. I kid you not there is an article titled ‘How drawing pins are killing off teachers’!


To summarise, staying compliant with Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 is the main goal here. But simply outsourcing the work to a professional can alleviate the headache of actually ‘managing’ your asbestos. Why not delegate the responsibility to someone else?


If you want to find out more information on how to achieve this realistically and with complete transparency- click the link to get started