Asbestos testing for academy schools

26th January 2017

Around 86 per cent of school buildings contain asbestos – a figure that’s not all that surprising when you consider the material was not banned until 1999. This does, however, mean that more than seven million children attend schools which contain this potentially deadly material. For the sake of those children, the staff, maintenance teams and anyone else who visits the building, asbestos containing materials (ACMs) must be managed appropriately.

While asbestos poses no threat if undisturbed, every academy has a duty of care to manage the risks it poses and monitor the condition of ACMs, as they may deteriorate over time. Let’s take a look at who is responsible for the management of ACMs in academies and what that involves.

Who is responsible for managing asbestos in academies?

While the duty of asbestos surveys falls to the local council for schools, it’s a different story for academies, free schools, voluntary-aided schools and foundation schools. According to the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, the employer is responsible, which means the academy school’s governors must manage any asbestos risks.

Classroom in a school

What does the academy duty holder need to do?

An asbestos management plan (AMP) is essential for all academies, as this contains a record of all ACMs and allows the duty holder to monitor their condition easily. In 2013/14 the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspected 153 non-local authority schools and discovered that a shocking 29 per cent needed to be sent written advice regarding their asbestos management. Eight of the schools had no management plan at all!

An AMP should contain the following information:

  • Details of all ACMs across the property, including location, condition and quantity
  • An emergency plan, in case asbestos fibres are released unexpectedly
  • A list of key persons and their responsibilities

All information regarding the property’s ACMs must be obtained through an asbestos management survey.

What does an asbestos management survey entail?

The surveyors will look at all accessible areas – both internal and external – and identify the locations of all suspected ACMs. Photographs and samples will be taken, to show the location and condition of the ACMs; however, the type of asbestos and how much is present will not be determined until the samples are tested back at the surveyors’ lab.

Once the analysis is complete, the school will be sent an asbestos survey report, which will include all the details needed for the AMP as well as any recommendations regarding the management of ACMs.

If you’re going to be renovating the school in the near future, remember to carry out a refurbishment or pre-demolition asbestos survey beforehand. These types of surveys are more in-depth and cover the risks involved in disturbing the ACMs present during the planned building work.

Please note that an asbestos survey is not something that is carried out just once – the conditions of ACMs should be monitored on an annual basis at the very least.

For more information on managing asbestos in academies, the HSE website has lots of information. ASI is more than happy to answer any questions you may have, too, so call free on 0330 100 0881 today.