June 22, 2020

Asbestos management and compliance in schools.

Is your school compliant with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012?
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Is your school compliant with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012?

A large number of schools and other public buildings contain asbestos – often in the fabric of the building. Its presence alone should not cause concern, provided it is managed properly. Many schools, built before 2000, will contain asbestos, of the 29,000 schools in Britain, more than 75% contain asbestos. School buildings may contain asbestos if any part of them was built before 2000.

Nurseries, schools, colleges and universities are not obliged to tell you if their premises contain asbestos. Do you know about the buildings your children, friends and families attend contains asbestos?

Asbestos what is the risk?

Asbestos that is in good condition and unlikely to be damaged or disturbed is not a significant risk to health. The Department for Education referred nearly 700 schools in England to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as they did not provide evidence that they were managing asbestos in line with regulatory requirements.

The most likely way asbestos containing materials (ACM’s) will create a risk in schools is when they are disturbed or damaged through maintenance, repair or construction activities. Disturbance could also occur by an accidental football or a thrown bag if asbestos is not managed satisfactorily within high footfall areas.

What to look out for?

Asbestos-containing materials within schools (ACM’s) include:

  • Asbestos lagging, thermal insulation on pipes and boilers
  • Sprayed asbestos used for thermal insulation to ceilings and void spaces
  • Asbestos-insulating board (AIB) used for fire protection, thermal insulation, wall and ceiling tiles and partitioning in classrooms
  • Floor coverings such as lino’s and floor tiles
  • Cement materials used for sheeting, roofing and guttering
  • Textured coating and finishes to walls and ceilings
  • Woven materials to electrics

Who is at risk?

School caretakers are a particular group at risk due to the nature of their work, eg drilling and fixing. Other contractors may be at risk while undertaking maintenance or installation work, while at the school. If asbestos is disturbed during such work, there is a risk that fibres will be released and create risk to others in the school. This fibre release increases the risk of exposure to asbetsos of anyone using the school buildings such as staff and pupils.

This means that teachers and pupils are unlikely to be at risk in the course of their normal activities in a school where the asbestos has been identified and a safe management strategy is in place.

Who is responsible for asbestos management in schools?

Anyone who has responsibility for the maintenance and/or repair of non-domestic premises, including schools, is a ‘dutyholder’ as defined in Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

For community schools, community special schools, voluntary-controlled schools, maintained nursery schools and pupil referral units, this could be the local authority. For academies, free schools, voluntary-aided and foundation schools, it will be the school governors. For independent schools, it may be the proprietor, governors or trustees.

The dutyholder’s responsibilities?

The duty holder must assess and manage the risks from asbestos to employees and others that may be likely to disturb asbetsos. They must also ensure that anyone who is likely to work on, or disturb, asbestos is provided with information about its location and condition. This is enabled by;

  • The ‘management survey’ this will identify if any asbestos-containing materials are present within the school.
  • Assess the risks associated with ACM’s in your school. Assess the material type, condition, location and likelihood of fibre release.
  • Devise an Asbestos Management Plan (AMP’s). The asbestos management plan identifies the risks posed by the asbestos present in the property and sets out procedures to control them. The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 states that “all duty holders with known or presumed asbestos within their premises must have an effective written asbestos management plan in place.
  • Make sure staff, visitors and contractors know the risks and precautions they need to take.
  • Keep the management of asbestos in your school under review. This will include a review of the management plan, re-inspection surveys, training for staff, remediation of high risk items.

What can you do and how can Summit Environmental help?

Summit Environmental can provide:

  • Independent assessments
  • Asbestos management and refurbishment surveys
  • Asbestos re-inspection surveys
  • Asbestos exposure investigations
  • Asbestos management plans
  • Asbestos remediation management
  • Consultancy and advice

If you have concerns regarding asbestos in schools or other premises where asbestos may be present, Contact us at info@summitenvironmental.co.uk for more advice or information.

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