Asbestos is a natural mineral widely used in the construction of our UK schools in the 1950′s to 1980′s. But once again we fool ourselves into thinking that our children are safeguarded at school. Current parental fears focus on predatory pedophiles on line or waiting near play grounds. The reality is that poor management and awareness of the lethal dangers of this toxic mineral could be the greatest danger facing our children.
Cwmcarn High School in Caerphilly county South Wales was shut late on Friday after a structural report identified asbestos. The question is why after the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 made it clear that all commercial premises have a legal due to manage asbestos? – why is it that schools suddenly close due to a building report? The CAR 2006 is quite clear that asbestos must be well managed – to have a survey conducted is not sufficient to comply. The management of Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) is not as hard as many would think:
2. Ensure you are aware of the activities that are routinely conducted within your premises including future plans or expansions / alterations.
3. Ensure you understand the type of asbestos found and its condition – this allows you to correctly risk assess the material – some asbestos is better left in place – some is better protected (e.g. to encapsulate i.e. contain or paint) or to in serious cases to remove it.
4. Now you know where the asbestos is located ensure you inform people who need to know about it. Protect them by briefing them – show them a copy of the asbestos register and ensure it is labelled correctly. How about those who do not speak English or Welsh?
5. Also those who might come in contact with it – ie those who conduct maintenance or interfere with the building fabric must be asbestos aware – especially know the emergency procedures.
6. Finally ensure those in a position of management know how to manage asbestos correctly.
So, the question remains why if it is so simple do we still have asbestos scares in our schools? The sad fact is that many organisations still do not take the risks seriously enough. Staff are not aware nor trained, asbestos registers are incomplete and sometimes seldom checked or reviewed and contractors are poorly managed on site.
Its time to take it seriously….Asbestos kills!
STORM Consultancy is an asbestos company that conducts asbestos surveys, removal, consultancy and staff training. If you have a school and you are concerned that your asbestos is not being managed correctly – phone STORM to arrange a FREE consultation. Phone STORM on 0845 894 6342 or [email protected]