Asbestos hazards were found in 20 independent schools across the UK last year, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has revealed.
Between April 2013 and January 2014, the HSE performed inspections on 153 non-local authority schools. Asbestos was found in 13 per cent (20 schools), who were then given notice to arrange for it to be managed, reports theconstructionindex.co.uk.
Staff training has been cited as a major failure, predominantly due to a risk of exposure for unaware tradespeople such as caretakers who undertake maintenance duties.
The schools inspected included independent, voluntary aided and foundation schools, free schools and academies. A majority of 71 per cent were either given simple advice or required no further action, while the HSE provided written advice to 29 per cent (44 schools).
A similar survey was conducted in 2010-2011. Out of 164 schools inspected 28 were given improvement notices, indicating an overall improvement in England, Scotland and Wales regarding compliance with the Control of Asbestos Regulations.
Geoff Cox, the Head of HSE’s Public Services Sector, said: “Over the last few years there has been a lot of work by stakeholders across the school sector to raise awareness of the duty to manage asbestos. It is really encouraging to see that awareness of the requirements has increased since our previous inspection initiative.
“That said, schools should not be under any illusion – 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.”
According to digitaljournal.com, an increasing number of people are being affected by asbestos. Approximately 2,000 people are diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer each year, and the HSE estimates that the number of males with mesothelioma cancer will increase to an all-time high of 2,038 in 2016.