Earlier this month, 900 pupils were moved out of a High School in Wales when contractors found asbestos fibres and dust in the air. This incident together with another story of asbestos in Northern Ireland schools, has stirred campaigners to demand that airborne asbestos fibre testing be introduced into schools.
A large proportion of schools in the UK and Ireland contain asbestos, due to the age of their buildings. However, the presence of Asbestos in a building is not the main issue as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that if the asbestos is in a good condition and undisturbed, it should not be a risk. So the real issue comes back to effective management policies and protocols of working in buildings containing Asbestos.
Legislation is clear about where the responsibilities lie and what actions need to be taken when Asbestos is present. However it is frightening how many organisations, both public sector and private sector, in this day and age still use buildings where there is no knowledge about the presence of Asbestos or any duty of care by the building owners / managers to protect the building users.
Attitude is the area that needs to change and this, as always, comes down to where we started – education!