Back in September 2022, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) started a program of inspections in primary and high schools throughout the UK accessing how schools manage the risk of asbestos under Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. The standards of asbestos management vary widely between schools and local authorities, which is why the inspection programme has been implemented.
Duty of care
Schools have a duty of care to both students and staff that occupy the buildings, with some structures still in use dating back as far as the early 1900s. Concerning commencing asbestos risk assessments, the schools have the responsibility of taking reasonable steps to identify asbestos within the premises, and the extent and also condition of the asbestos products present. This is the asbestos survey and is the cornerstone of asbestos management.
For those schools that have been operating since long before the turn of the century, it is best to presume that materials contain asbestos unless there is documented evidence that they do not. Regardless, a complete written record of the location of asbestos or those presumed to be asbestos needs to be accounted for, as well as a completed risk assessment and an asbestos management plan detailing how the risks will be managed.
From there, the plan must be implemented and any information relating to asbestos-containing materials must be passed to those who would require it. These arrangements also need to be monitored and reviewed periodically moving forward.
All of the above would certainly involve an asbestos audit being carried out, which is something only a certified and trained professional in asbestos services can undertake. It must be clear that any non-compliance with Regulation 4 is a criminal offence, which can carry a fine with an unlimited amount, and potentially a two-year prison sentence.
The critical concern at the moment is the risk to children, teachers and staff health with the asbestos presence within schools. Some schools have even seen full closure due to the presence of asbestos in a disturbed state.
Schools that don’t even have an asbestos survey in place are potentially exposing pupils, students, staff and visitors to asbestos. These are the schools that the HSE are keen to find. If you manage one of these schools it is not too late to take steps to put an asbestos survey in place. Only use an asbestos removal company that has proven experience in asbestos surveying and management.
If you manage a school that has occupied the same grounds for over 30 years, there has never been a better time to review your asbestos policies and asbestos management plan.
For asbestos removal Manchester, contact the team at Grosvenor Asbestos Solutions today and learn where you stand with asbestos risk and get your asbestos survey or your updated asbestos re-inspection survey of the known asbestos in the premises.