In 2015, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) called for an audit on asbestos within schools following growing concern regarding the continued danger the substance presents to both teachers and pupils.
Figures from early 2015 show that, on average, 22 teachers die each year as a result of asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma. This figure represents a stark increase in cases over the previous four decades. During the 1980's the yearly average of cases stood at three.
Asbestos, schools and pupil safety
Figures suggest that up to 300 ex-pupils per year could be dying of asbestos-related diseases as a result of being exposed to the substance during their childhood.
Throughout the latter half of the twentieth century, asbestos was regularly used in construction and building work as an insulating material. Once the danger it posed to public health was realised, its use was phased out until a complete ban was imposed within the UK in 1999.
Standard of care in school and children's premises
The ‘dutyholder' is the individual or body responsible for maintaining non-domestic premises and for managing asbestos. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that the dutyholder for community schools, nurseries and pupil referral units will in most cases be the local authority.
Academies and free schools will be maintained by the school governors and in the case of independent schools, proprietors, governors or trustees will be charged with the duty to manage asbestos.
The authority responsible is required to carry out checks assessing whether asbestos is present within a building and keep a record of the location of asbestos materials if they have been identified.
The condition of asbestos containing materials (ACMs) needs to be regularly monitored and assessed so as to manage the risk they pose to those who use a premises.
There is a legal obligation for dutyholders to alert building users if asbestos is present within the structure and to ensure that those who may work with the substance are licensed and trained to do so.
Advice for parents
Authorities are not required to inform parents of asbestos presence within school buildings; however, many schools do choose to make parents aware as reassurance that the situation is being properly managed.
If you are concerned that asbestos within your child's school is not being adequately managed, there is a HSE checklist which you can refer to for further information.
Have you suffered asbestos exposure at school?
If you are a teacher or former pupil and have developed mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure suffered while on school premises, you may be entitled to compensation.
Our asbestos claims solicitors in London have many years of collective experience dealing with a wide variety of claims and will work diligently to ensure you receive the fullest possible settlement.
For more information or to discuss your claim further, please contact our team on 0800 508 8747 today.