Could older schools face asbestos risk?

September 14th, 2012 Category: Educational Establishments

Asbestos was once routinely used in the construction trade, before its harmful effects were generally known.

But while the law on its use has been tightened considerably in recent years, the material is still present in many older buildings.

As a result, it could potentially pose a hazard in the event of development and maintenance work being carried out at these sites.

This means that the operator of the building needs to ensure they get qualified professionals in to deal with the risk.

Not only will this help to keep its occupants safe, it will keep them on the right side of the law.

After all, nobody wants a prosecution to arise as a result of a person getting an asbestos-related illness such as mesothelioma.

The substance recently posed problems at Ryders Hayes School in the West Midlands, as asbestos was found by tradesmen throughout the summer break, the Express and Star reports.

Decontamination procedures were swiftly put in place, although it did force the start of the new school year to be put back slightly.

Joanne Speller, head teacher at the school, commented: "It is a great relief that children and staff were not in the building at the time the asbestos was disturbed."

The case highlights how officials in older school buildings need to be conscious of a possible asbestos risk.

This is particularly important if a school is planning to outsource cleaning services, so they must make sure they call on specialists with proper and effective resources.

According to the Health and Safety Executive, asbestos causes more work-related deaths in Britain than any other hazard.

Indeed, estimates suggest it causes about 4,500 fatalities every year, as fibres can trigger conditions such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer and diffuse pleural thickening.

And of course the effects of asbestos may not become apparent for some time, so exposure now could have serious consequences in the future.

This clearly indicates the threat it poses and the need to ensure it is dealt with exclusively by those who know what they are doing.