Asbestos in schools

The HSE has announced that they will be carrying out a programme of inspections in primary and secondary schools, commencing in September 2022. Inspections will take place across England, Scotland and Wales, to assess how schools are managing the risks from asbestos within the school estate.

It is estimated that 90% of schools in England contain asbestos, and the HSE has previously raised concerns that many schools are failing to safely manage asbestos in their buildings.

The HSE has indicated that schools will be contacted in advance of the visit by an HSE inspector, who will seek to arrange a suitable time and date for the appointment. An individual who has knowledge of how asbestos is managed in the school will need to be available for the appointment, and certain documentation may be required in advance of the visit e.g. the school’s asbestos register and management plan.

Asbestos is a serious issue and due to its potentially dangerous nature and its widespread use in construction materials for several decades, there are regulations in place regarding its management in schools. Schools have a ‘duty to manage’ (DTM) requirements under Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR). Duties under the CAR include:

  • taking reasonable steps to find out if there are asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) in the school premises
  • presuming materials contain asbestos unless there is strong evidence that they do not
  • making and keeping up to date, a record of the location and condition of any asbestos containing materials (ACMs) – or materials which are presumed to contain asbestos
  • assessing the risk of anyone being exposed to fibres from the materials identified
  • providing information on the location and condition of ACMs to anyone who is liable to work on, or disturb them.

Schools are also required to have an asbestos management plan (AMP) that sets out in detail how the risks from these materials will be managed. This needs to be kept up to date and periodically reviewed and monitored.

As School Building Consultants, we are only too aware of the issues around dealing with asbestos in schools.

Where asbestos is a known risk, a detailed Asbestos Refurbishment Survey needs to be conducted prior to the commencement of any school project. Any works that may involve disturbing asbestos need to be expertly planned and project-managed to ensure the health and safety of contractors, staff and pupils.  If the works are being undertaken in a main corridor / circulation space, the area may need to be taken out of bounds until work has been completed and signed off as safe. Within the context of a busy school, with children around every day, work needs to be carefully planned and managed in accordance with the school’s asbestos management plan.

Please get in touch if you would like any further information as we offer complete support including asbestos audits and reviews.

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Telephone: 01772 458866
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Telephone: 01524 899850
Lea Hough is a trading name of Lea Hough & Co LLP, which is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales under partnership number OC306054.
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