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Asbestos in Schools

Joint Union Asbestos Committee


The Joint Union Asbestos Committee looks to all political parties to support the asbestos in schools campaign 

The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) has been campaigning for many years to improve the way in which the asbestos in the majority of UK schools is managed to keep children and staff safe.

JUAC believe that it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that children and staff in schools are not harmed just by being there and are therefore disappointed by the outcome of the government’s recent review of the management of asbestos in schools.

Julie Winn, Chair of JUAC said: “It’s good to see that the government are finally going to test the level of asbestos fibres in the air in schools, and that they are updating their guidance to schools but it is just not going far enough.”

“The recent report by the Committee on Carcinogenicity showed that children are at greater risk of developing asbestos-related diseases if they are exposed to asbestos fibres. We have been calling for years for a step change to the management of asbestos in schools."

It was reassuring to hear David Laws’ acknowledgement in the debate this week on this issue. With the general election coming up, it is important that there is cross-party support for this campaign.

A number of key areas need urgent attention now.

  • There needs to be a proper assessment of the national picture on the level and condition of asbestos in the nation’s schools so that plans can be drawn up to remove the worst as it continues to deteriorate
  •  We also want to see the return of inspections to assess how well the asbestos is being managed and spot where children are being exposed to risk – it’s simply not good enough to leave it to chance, especially as a recent trial survey by the Health and Safety Executive led to a number of enforcement notices
  • There must also be proper recognition that the problem of asbestos in schools is crucially different to its presence in other publicly-owned or frequented places. In schools, children may be exposed merely by being in the same classroom for several hours each day. JUAC is arguing for a regulatory framework which is specific to schools and sets an appropriate environmental level for children and school staff. We would like to see systematic air sampling and a mandatory 40 year standard for recording and keeping data on asbestos.

JUAC will continue to push the government to honour their responsibility to ensure that adults and children are not harmed by asbestos in schools. Whilst the Review is a step in the right direction, there is still a long way to go and all political parties have an obligation to support this campaign.

For more information please contact:-
JUAC – Julie Winn: Julie.winn68@btinternet.com 07920 514254

*JUAC is a trade union campaigning committee comprising the six main education unions: Association of School and College Leaders; Association of Teachers and Lecturers; National Association of Head Teachers; NASUWT; National Union of Teachers; Voice; plus the education sections of Unite, UNISON,UCATT and the GMB: www.juac.org.uk.

The Group has the objective of making all UK schools and colleges safe from the dangers of asbestos. All the unions in JUAC are members of the Asbestos in Schools (AIS) campaign.