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Asbestos in Schools

Government Proposals for Health and Safety Reforms put occupants of schools at increased risk from asbestos


Today, 21 March, the Government announced its proposals for “Reforming Britain’s health and safety regime to put common sense back.” The proposals will inevitably lead to a reduction in safety standards in schools and to occupants being at an increased risk from asbestos.

It is apparent that the proposals will mean even less inspections and regulation for schools to check whether or not they are managing their asbestos safely. In his review “Common Sense, Common Safety” Lord Young arbitrarily declared that schools are a low risk environment. That was despite the fact that the majority of schools contain asbestos, many are not managing their asbestos safely and as a result there is an ever growing death toll from asbestos related cancer amongst school teachers and support staff. The Government accepted all his proposals, denied that the teachers’ deaths were anything other than normal, and once again refused to assess the scale of the asbestos problem in schools or to assess the asbestos risks to staff and pupils. .

Lord Young undertook a consultation before he compiled his report, and the Asbestos in Schools (AiS) group responded. One of the main criticisms was the lack of regulation had allowed unsafe standards of asbestos management to pass undetected in many schools. However when his report was published it was clear that he had not heeded the recommendation of the response, and had totally failed to take into account the dangers of asbestos in schools. Because of his declaration that schools are a low risk environment he recommended that the Government would introduce a simplified risk assessment. This document trivialises the risks from asbestos, expects unqualified staff to undertake the assessment and would be dangerous if it was implemented in its present form. The AiS commented on this flawed document

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Government Press Releases. An update on progress on the implementation of Lord Young’s recommendations is at this link. The Government's press release is at this link