HSE publishes school asbestos report
The results of the 2013/14 Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) asbestos in schools investigation are out, with nearly a third of schools inspected having to be advised in writing as to how conditions may be improved.
The inspection drive – which saw the HSE go into more than 150 non-local authority schools – found that the majority of buildings were fully compliant. According to inspectors, 71% required no action to be taken or nothing more than simple pointers.
More worrying though was the 29% of schools receiving written advice from the HSE, and the 13% requiring enforcement notices to be issued. In these 20 cases, the schools were advised what action they needed to take to better manage asbestos on-site.
The enforcement action was taken for numerous reasons, including failures regarding the training of staff, processes in place, or access to suitable workwear for maintenance crews. However, the HSE was eager to state that at no school were pupils or staff found to be at risk of exposure to the hazardous material.
It is also an improvement from the last inspection drive in 2010/11, which saw 41 notices issued from the 164 schools that were surveyed.
The HSE's head of public services sector, Geoff Cox, said:
“It is really encouraging to see that awareness of the requirements has increased since our previous inspection initiative.”
However, he also explained how it is essential that schools do not relax, and instead understand that managing asbestos is a constant process requiring appropriate standards to be maintained at all times.