Opinion Former Article

Voice: JUAC calls for a national audit of asbestos in school buildings

The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) calls for a national audit of asbestos in school buildings after figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) showed that of the small number of academies inspected approximately 60% had enforcement action taken against them for failing to adequately manage the asbestos in their buildings. Government estimates are that 75% of all UK schools have buildings that comprise asbestos containing materials.

JUAC Chair, Julie Winn, today said:

“Figures from the HSE suggest that there is a significant problem of asbestos management in schools. Of the relatively small sample of non-local authority schools inspected by HSE approximately 60% of the academies, 32% of the independent fee paying schools and 22% of the non-local authority schools had enforcement action taken against them. We simply do not know the true extent of the problem; this could just be the tip of the iceberg. 

“The Government accepts the recommendation from the James Review of Capital Spending for there to be a national collection of data on the condition of all school buildings in the UK. JUAC believes it is vital that this includes an audit of the extent and type and condition of the asbestos in UK school buildings. 

"JUAC agrees with the HSE's recent conclusion that raising awareness around asbestos produces benefits to dutyholders and workers is in fact a key component in the AiS* and JUAC campaign. Raising awareness and improved training in the management of asbestos is fundamental to health and safety in UK schools containing asbestos. 

However for the HSE to suggest that most schools have adequate arrangements in place for managing asbestos in the absence of a national collection of data on the condition of all school buildings which includes an audit of the extent, type and condition of the asbestos within them, is like saying what you don't know can't hurt you." 

Further information:
HSE press release of 14 October 2011 and summary of findings
Contacts:
Voice Press Office
Email: pressoffice@voicetheunion.org.uk
Voice Solicitor David Brierley
Email: davidbrierley@voicetheunion.org.uk
Tel: 01332 372 337
www.voicetheunion.org.uk/asbestos
JUAC Chair Julie Winn:
Email: julie.winn@morrishsolicitors.com
Tel: 0113 245 0733
*Asbestos in Schools (AiS):
www.asbestosexposureschools.co.uk / www.schoolasbestosaction.co.uk

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