Three out of four schools contain asbestos, which could be putting children at risk of cancer, a damning report warns. Many do not have appropriate protection measures in place, while management of the substance is 'ineffective and at times dangerous'.
These schools do not comply with their legal duty to protect those who use the buildings from the hidden killer and training about it is poor or non- existent, the Asbestos Testing and Consultancy Association found. Steps must be taken to stop pupils and teachers from developing mesothelioma, a cancer contracted from asbestos exposure, or other related illnesses, it added.The Government's policy on asbestos in schools is to leave it in place and make sure it is not exposed - rather than remove it. Stringent regulations exist to manage asbestos effectively. But the report argues many schools do not have the resources to properly protect pupils and staff.
Paul Rowen, chairman of the Campaign Against Asbestos in Schools and LibDem health and safety spokesman, said the study confirmed his fears about the mismanagement of asbestos.
'This is a major risk to both pupils and staff, and we have already seen too many deaths as a result of poor asbestos management,' he said. The Government needs to renew their efforts in tackling this problem, and ensure training is in place to allow school staff to deal with the problem quickly and safely.'
The findings were based on 16 schools which agreed to be inspected. None were found to be fully compliant with asbestos guidoneance and just four had an adequate standard of asbestos management.
The Assessment of Asbestos Management in Schools report concluded: 'The majority had unacceptable standards which were ineffective or unworkable and with the potential to cause contamination or exposure incident.