Asbestos can be found in any industrial or residential building, including schools, built or refurbished before the year 2000. It is in many of the common materials used in the building trade.
In order that we manage asbestos in our schools, we are legally required to have an asbestos management survey undertaken by specialist, licenced contractors. The purpose of the survey is to:
- Find out if asbestos is present
- Make a record of the location, type and condition of the asbestos
- Assess the risk of anyone being exposed to the asbestos
- Prepare a plan on how to manage these risks
- Put the plan into action, monitor it and keep it up to date
- Provide this information to anyone who might work on or disturb the asbestos
This was completed at Culverstone Green Primary School in 2015 and at Riverview Infant School in 2014.
The contractors identified asbestos-containing materials (ACM) which are either known to contain asbestos or presumed to contain asbestos. A record was made detailing what type of asbestos containing material was found (sometimes further to tests, sometimes presumed), the location and how much.
The contractors then looked at how accessible each area of asbestos is, its condition and any action required to prevent exposure. Based on this information, action was taken for each area containing asbestos, ranging from simply keeping a record of the location (because it is inaccessible and presents no risk), to encapsulating the asbestos (enclose it so no one can access it) or to remove it entirely. All this information is contained within the asbestos survey report and the asbestos register (a summary document detailing location and type of asbestos).
Asbestos is only dangerous when disturbed. If it is safely managed and contained, it doesn’t present a health hazard. It is only when the materials are damaged or disturbed (and fibres are released) that asbestos can become a danger. To prevent this from happening, we make anyone working on the fabric of our buildings (builders, electricians, plumbers and our premises team etc.) aware of the location of asbestos by providing them with a copy of the asbestos register. Furthermore, all asbestos containing materials identified in the survey are monitored annually to ensure they present no risk.
It is important to remember that the duty to manage is all about putting in place the practical steps necessary to protect people from the risk of exposure to asbestos fibres – it is not about removing all asbestos.
Further information on managing asbestos in schools can be found on the HSE website: HSE Asbestos Information