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Asbestos in Schools
House of Lords Written Answers
14 May 2014 : Schools: Air Quality
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash) (Con): The Department for Education does not conduct air quality testing in schools. Under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, the employer – either the local authority or the school – has clear responsibilities to manage asbestos-containing materials in schools safely. The regulations include a requirement that exposure to asbestos fibres is reduced to a level that is as low as reasonably practicable.
The condition of asbestos containing materials can be monitored by visual inspection and by checking for any signs of damage. In some cases the employer may arrange for air sampling to be done to establish the levels of asbestos fibres.
The Department for Education does not have a programme for the phased removal of all asbestos from schools in England. Under the Control of Asbestos Regulations, the employer - either the school or local authority - has clear responsibilities to manage asbestos containing materials in schools safely. The advice from the Health and Safety Executive is that it is safer to leave undisturbed or undamaged asbestos in place and to carefully manage it rather than to risk disturbing or damaging asbestos unnecessarily. If asbestos is managed effectively, as required by the regulations, the safest and most effective way to plan for its removal is when existing buildings are refurbished or replaced.
Asked by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking in relation to asbestos in schools. [HL6903]
Lord Nash: Under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, the employer - either the local authority or the school - has clear responsibilities to manage asbestos-containing materials in schools safely. We expect schools to have an asbestos management plan in place and to actively manage it in line with legal requirements.
The Department for Education takes the issue of asbestos management in schools seriously. Our policy, as in other aspects of school management, is to give schools the support that they need to fulfil their responsibilities effectively.
We have set up the Asbestos in Schools Steering Group to raise awareness and promote the effective management of asbestos in schools and published new guidance in October 2012 which is available on the gov.uk website: