The continuing presence of asbestos in the UK’s schools is a “scandal” say a coalition of trade unions.
In a statement, the Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC), which comprises nine unions (the Association of School and College Leaders, Association of Teachers and Lecturers, National Association of Head Teachers, NASUWT, National Union of Teachers, Voice, plus the education sections of UNISON, Unite and the GMB) says there is a “shocking lack of consistency” in the way in which asbestos in schools is managed across the country.
According to the Committee, which was formed in 2010, around 86% of schools contain asbestos and deaths from mesothelioma are increasing, with 17 teachers aged 74 and under dying of mesothelioma in 2014 alone.
In addition, children are at an increased risk of developing mesothelioma in later life because of exposure to asbestos at school, with an estimated 200-300 former pupils dying each year as adults because of exposure at school during the 1960’s and 1970’s, JUAC says.
The Committee argues that this number is likely to increase considerably because many of the system buildings with the most asbestos are deteriorating and inadequate funding and support is available for necessary maintenance, renovation and demolition.
JUAC argues that recent Freedom of Information requests have revealed “a shocking disparity” in how asbestos in schools is being managed and it is now aiming to establish a national picture of which schools contain asbestos, something which it accuses the Department for Education of failing to do.
According to the Committee, the policy of managing asbestos in schools is “simply not working and is putting children and staff at risk”.
The group is now calling on the Governments in England, Scotland and Wales to undertake a national audit of asbestos in schools, set out by a long term strategy for its removal and ensure that the Health and Safety Executive has the funding it needs to routinely inspect schools.
Kevin Courtney, NUT General Secretary, said, “The continuing presence of asbestos in our schools is a national disgrace, putting at risk the health of staff and children.”
Source of article:- https://www.rospa.com
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Published Sep 25, 2017