The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published the results of its latest asbestos in schools inspection initiative, which took place in 2013/14.
HSE inspected a random sample of 153 non-local authority schools between April 2013 and January 2014, which included voluntary aided, independent and foundation schools, free schools and academies.
The subsequent results were:
The improvement notices set out a requirement for recipient schools to improve arrangements for managing asbestos. Enforcement action was taken over failures such as training staff and producing written management plans – not because staff or pupils were considered at significant risk of exposure, but because these are vital elements of the required control measures.
Compliance with the Control of Asbestos Regulations in England, Scotland and Wales showed an overall improvement compared with that found in a similar survey and inspection programme of 164 schools outside local authority control in 2010/11 where 41 improvement notices were served on 28 schools.
Over the last few years there has been a lot of work by stakeholders across the school sector to raise awareness of the duty to manage asbestos. It is really encouraging to see that awareness of the requirements has increased since the HSE inspection initiative.
Schools should not be under any illusion – managing asbestos requires ongoing attention. There is now access to a wealth of guidance setting out clear and straightforward steps to achieve and maintain compliance.
“Where duty holders fall below acceptable standards, HSE has taken, and will continue to take, enforcement action”
All schools must ensure they have up to date records of asbestos containing materials in their school – this is to make sure that the school knows the location of any asbestos containing materials that could be damaged or disturbed by normal activities, by foreseeable maintenance, or when installing new equipment.
Training is essential for maintenance staff whose work could foreseeably expose them to asbestos and every school needs a robust system to alert anyone who may disturb asbestos at the school. The key group of personnel at risk from asbestos is tradespeople – particularly those undertaking maintenance activities. It is vital that schools ensure that anyone who may disturb asbestos is made aware of its location and condition.
Asbestos which is in good condition and remains undamaged and undisturbed does not pose any significant risk to health if it is managed in compliance with the legal requirements and according to HSE’s published guidance.
Amiante STR use a mixture of methods so that the session is practical, informative and interactive.
The “duty to manage” (Regulation 4-Control of Asbestos Regulations) is an ongoing duty—it does not stop once surveys and management plans have been formulated—dependent upon materials discovered and their condition, regular inspections need to be carried out and recorded in the management log.
From both a legal perspective and for peace-of-mind, talk to one of our consultants today. We can advise you on what needs doing to comply and the steps to take and if required, book an asbestos survey.
Click here for a useful HSE reference guide for asbestos surveys.