The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have released the latest mesothelioma statistics for the Education Sector.
According to statistics the death of teachers caused by mesothelioma is on the rise, it has been recorded that 177 school teachers have died of mesothelioma since 2001.
Mesothelioma is a formally rare form of cancer that principally affects the pleura (the external lining of the lung) and the peritoneum (the lining of the lower digestive tract). Many cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed at an advanced stage as symptoms are non-specific and appear late in the development of the disease. It is almost always fatal with most of those affected usually dying within twelve months of diagnosis.
Asbestos is responsible for causing the vast majority of mesothelioma cases in Great Britain. There are currently about five times as many deaths in men as there are in women each year. This is largely a reflection of the fact that past asbestos exposures that caused many of these deaths tended to occur in occupational settings, and in jobs mainly held by men rather than women.
Although still caused by asbestos, a minority of currently occurring female deaths are directly attributable to occupational exposures. The continuing increase in annual mesothelioma deaths is a consequence of the effect of past exposures and the long latency period of the disease (i.e. the time between initial exposure to asbestos and the manifestation of mesothelioma) which is typically between 30 and 40 years. Read more
We are pleased to have Michael Lees as our Guest Blogger of the month. Michael campaigns tirelessly to inform parents, teachers and support staff about asbestos in schools. His campaign website gives guidance on how to improve the management of asbestos in schools. It aims to encourage openness in the UK Government’s policy towards asbestos in schools.
Article by Michael Lees – September 2014 – http://www.asbestosexposureschools.co.uk
The Government is presently undertaking a review of its asbestos policy for schools and its report is imminent. There are far reaching implications, both financially and for the future safety of children and staff in our schools. The review is a positive step forward. But if it is to fulfil its potential the Government must honestly and openly examine all the evidence. In particular they must reconsider their policy of leaving asbestos in place and managing it.
More than 75% of schools contain asbestos and most remains in place because of Government policy for schools that “Asbestos which is in good condition and unlikely to be disturbed or damaged is better left in place and managed until the end of the life of the building as this presents less risk of exposure to the occupants than the process of removing it.”
However the school estate has not been properly maintained and is generally in a poor condition because of long term under funding. As the buildings have deteriorated then so has the asbestos. Of particular concern is AIB that is in places accessible to children. Over the years AIB panels lining corridors have been be hit by bags and bashed by boisterous pupils. AIB ceiling tiles in gyms have been hit by balls and panels under desks kicked by the pupil’s feet. Although the visible face may be painted, the reverse face is not, so each hit or kick will release amosite fibres to be inhaled by the occupants. Read more
Worsbrough Bank End Primary will remain closed until after Christmas after flood damage led to the discovery of asbestos.
Over 220 pupils at Worsbrough Bank End Primary had their September holiday extended by more than a week as the school could not reopen due to the asbestos findings. The students then moved into temporary buildings at other schools such as Barnsley Academy and the Sunnybank Children’s Centre.
The total cost of repairs and alternative arrangements for the students are estimated at £300,000, but the council says insurance is covering the bill.
The school was initially going to be closed for at least two months; however the current estimate is that the school will not return to normal until January 5.
The duty to manage’ asbestos
Dutyholders should know whether their premises contain asbestos, where it is and what condition it is in, it is also imperative that they then manage it properly.
The risks from asbestos to employees and others should be assessed and managed. Anyone who is likely to work on, or disturb asbestos should be provided with information about its location and condition.
Responsibilities for the duty holder of a school include:
- keeping an up-to-date record of the location and condition of ACMs in the school
- assessing the risks from any ACMs in the school
- making plans to manage the risks from ACMs in the school
- putting those plans into action
Government Policy will allow asbestos in good condition to remain in situ for the life of the school building relies on schools operating good systems of asbestos management.
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR) place duties on those who have responsibilities for the maintenance of work premises, including schools, to manage the risk from asbestos.
In 2013/14 HSE undertook an inspection initiative in schools outside of local authority control. The initiative followed the same protocol as the 2010/11 programme but targeted a different sample of schools. The aim of the initiative was to assess the level of compliance with CAR in a carefully structured random sample of schools.
HSE Inspectors visited a total of 153 schools – 131 in England, 11 in Scotland and 11 in Wales. A range of school types were included – foundation, voluntary-aided, independent, academies and free schools. This report summarises the findings and identifies key messages to help all schools manage the risks from asbestos-containing materials (ACMs).
HSE’s statistics unit collated the results of all the inspections and a detailed report is available online. Overall, the duty holders’ awareness of their legal responsibilities was 9% higher than the level found in the 2010/11 inspection programme, with 95% of schools having a full or broad understanding of the requirements. Read more