FREEDOMS AND FRAGMENTATION PUT PUPILS AT RISK
Responding to the Health and Safety Executive’s report following 153 inspections of the asbestos management of schools outside local authority control, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, said:
“These results come as no surprise.
“They are yet another example of where increased ‘freedoms’ in and fragmentation of the system lead to important statutory and good practice provisions being ignored.
“It is alarming and disturbing that nearly a third of schools were either given written advice or served with an improvement notice regarding deficiencies in their asbestos management.
“Asbestos is lethal. It is unacceptable that children and the workforce are being put at risk as a consequence of a failure to put in place mechanisms which monitor compliance with important legislative provisions.
“It is equally unacceptable that there is no coherent funded national plan for the systematic removal of asbestos from schools.”
Of the 153 schools in England, Scotland and Wales which were randomly selected for inspection by the HSE, 44 received written advice or an improvement notice (29%). As a comparison, in a recent HSE inspection of 400 small and medium sized businesses 6% had enforcement action taken against them over their asbestos management.
Improvement notices were issued for a range of deficiencies including:
· not having a written asbestos management plan;
· failing to undertake an assessment of the presence of asbestos;
· failure to effectively manage the risk of asbestos, and
· inadequate training of maintenance personnel.
The full HSE report and a list of schools inspected is available at http://www.hse.gov.uk/services/education/asbestos-management-1314.htm