Whenever we think of asbestos and the type of people who are exposed to it, we generally conjure up images of factories or construction sites. However in recent years it has been revealed that over 75% of school buildings in the UK are infested with asbestos – mostly the huge number built in the three decades after the second world war – which are now coming to the end of their useful lives.
Asbestos in the UK has been a growing issue in recent years, as more and more cases of not only its exposure are being found but also the increasing number of people dying from the related disease mesothelioma. Cases of the disease, that can take up to 30 years to develop and which is almost always fatal, have been growing. Between 1980 and 1985 there were 15 mesothelioma deaths among schools teachers, three per year. However in 2012 alone, there were 22. Showing that the legacy of the post war school building boom has some way to go yet.
A report published by the UNISON highlights the major issues with asbestos in schools due to the fact that they are a very different kind of environment compared to offices for example. Because children can be careless meaning that buildings can be easily damaged, allowing for the asbestos fibre to be released into the air.
According to the Local Government Association, disputes over asbestos removal from schools have been holding up a significant number of projects. Due to the fact that asbestos removal is expensive, it can form a large part of the cost of replacement. And with so many post- war buildings needing urgent repair works and asbestos removal, the problem is unlikely to go away.
In a recent announcement from the all-party parliamentary group on occupational health and safety, the issue is a “time-bomb in our schools”. Almost all the 14,000 schools built between 1945 and 1975 contain the material, it says, along with those refurbished during that period.
Our company regularly deals with asbestos removal in all types of building, both commercial and domestic, so for any further information please give us a call at 0333 772 0424.