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Alert For Schools After HSE Asbestos Inspection

A TOTAL of 64 schools were found to be wanting in the 2013/2014 Health and Safety Executive (HSE) asbestos inspection.
HSE inspected 153 non-local authority schools between April 2013 and January 2014, including independent, voluntary aided and foundation schools, free schools and academies.
In the results just announced, 71% schools needed either no further action or were given straightforward advice. However, 29% (44 schools) received written advice from HSE, and 13% (20) were subject to enforcement action.
Improvement notices required named schools to improve how they manage asbestos. Failures included training staff and not having written management plans.
Compliance with the Control of Asbestos Regulations in England, Scotland and Wales showed an overall improvement compared with that found in a similar survey and inspection programme of 164 schools outside local authority control in 2010/11 where 41 improvement notices were served on 28 schools.
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 encouraging to see increased awareness of the requirements since our previous inspection.
‘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.
‘Where duty holders fall below acceptable standards, HSE has taken, and will continue to take, enforcement action.’
The inspections revealed several common themes in cases where schools were falling short of the requirements. HSE has published its findings to help share more widely what can be learned from.
All schools must ensure they have up to date records of asbestos containing materials in their school – this is to make sure that they know the location of asbestos containing materials that could be damaged or disturbed by normal activities, by foreseeable maintenance, or when installing new equipment.
Training is vital for maintenance staff whose work could foreseeably expose them to asbestos and every school needs a robust system to alert anyone who may disturb asbestos at the school.
Trades people are particularly at risk from asbestos, particularly those undertaking refurbishment, including floorlaying.
It is vital that schools ensure that anyone who may disturb asbestos is made aware of its location and condition.
Asbestos in good condition and which remains undamaged and undisturbed does not pose any significant risk to health if it is managed in compliance with the legal requirements and according to HSE’s published guidance.
A full list of schools inspected and the results of the inspection is available online at: www.hse.gov.uk/services/education/asbestos-schools-inspections-13-14-visited.pdf

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal. You can find them at www.contractflooringjournal.co.uk.