Is there still asbestos in our school?


It sometimes comes as a surprise to both teachers and parents that asbestos can still be located in schools.

As asbestos consultants and surveyors we regularly come across asbestos within school buildings in various states of repair. In this blog post we will look at what should be in place for schools and how we can assist with ensuring the next generation are safe in education today.

For more basic information on asbestos in schools please see the National Education Unions information page.

The Problem

Asbestos products were used extensively throughout UK in all manner of buildings primarily between the 1950’s and 1980’s. It is now known (and has been for some time) that asbestos is harmful to health and a serious risk.

The use of asbestos was commonplace in schools around the country. Asbestos can be found in many different areas and materials within the buildings and was not banned until the end of 1999.

When working alongside schools over the last 20 years we have found that the main problems we come across when it comes to asbestos in schools are as follows:

  • Old / poor quality surveys that have not located the asbestos present in the buildings

  • Maintenance of asbestos products has not been undertaken periodically increasing the risks

  • Regular re-inspection and management actions have not been undertaken or have been forgotten

  • Paperwork has been misplaced or lost following change of staff members or office moves

  • Knowledge of the regulations and requirements is poor or outdated leaving the school and duty holder liable

  • No management of contractors on site leading to accidental damage to asbestos

  • Not knowing who the duty holder is? Or who is responsible for asbestos.

The problems above are varied but more common place than they should be in this day and age.

If you are experiencing any of the above issues we offer free and impartial advice on how to bring you asbestos management back on track.

What should a school have in place for asbestos?

School buildings like any other building build pre-2000 come under The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

This places a legal duty on the person responsible for the building (Duty Holder) to ensure those entering it are safe and all asbestos management actions and legal requirements are undertaken.

The penalties, liability and potential risks to health from not undertaking these actions correctly or at all are severe.

Asbestos Management actions typically include some of the following items;

  • Carrying out asbestos surveys and re-inspections of asbestos materials previously located to assess the current material risks and actions required

  • Putting into place an Asbestos Management Plan (AMP) to manage and identify all the required actions and those responsible for undertaking them

  • Carrying out removal or abatement works as required (usually identified within the re-inspection survey or when damage is caused to a material)

  • Review the current AMP and implement changes as and when regulations or site conditions, duty holders, staff or actions change

  • Ensure staff are correctly trained and aware of asbestos containing materials on site

  • Ensure contractors and visitors are safe, managed and assessed when entering and working in the building

  • Seek specialist advice as required.

The list of required actions can seem overwhelming to those not directly involved in undertaking asbestos duties. As such we offer a range of services to assist and help take the stress off head teachers, facilities managers, deputy heads and caretakers.

Many school staff have found themselves not only teaching but dealing with a multitude of building maintenance and facilities problems they never expected to have to deal with. Furthermore they do not have the skill base to fully and confidently undertake the required actions as they have not received the required training.

If you feel the items above describe your position in your school and would welcome assistance or just want to ask advice please do not hesitate to contact us and discuss your problem asbestos.