Figures announced yesterday (April 6 2015) at the National Union of Teachers’ conference in Harrogate revealed that the UK now has more teachers dying from exposure to asbestos than any other country in the world.
Whilst only three UK teachers died of mesothelioma in 1980, that amount has risen to 22 deaths a year in 2015, a number that’s expected to continue rising over the coming years, independent.co.uk reports. Almost half (44 per cent) of teachers surveyed by the union said they had not been told whether or not the school they worked at contained asbestos.
Sarah Lyons, the union’s asbestos expert, told conference attendees that a Freedom of Information request to local authorities had indicated 86 per cent of existing schools contained asbestos. Those built between 1945 and 1975 were said to be the most likely affected.
Ms Lyons suggested parents should take action and seek to find out if their child’s school contains asbestos.
“We wouldn’t want to cause pain or anything but it is a question that should be asked. We’re equally concerned about teachers and support staff but the dangers for children can be more acute because they’ve got more life ahead of them,” she said.
Last week, the union confirmed that a retired teacher who had spent 11 years teaching in classrooms containing asbestos had secured a personal injury claim for £210,000 after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, schoolsweek.co.uk notes.
You may also be interested in: How to deal with asbestos in schools.