Toxic Schools

Neil HartleyHealth & Safety Issues/TrendsLeave a Comment

asbestos in uk schools

The recent political landscape in the UK has left some/many(?) wondering if our political classes are really capable of making and managing the changes needed to help us prosper and keep us safe. This latest election campaign has often represented a drunken brawl in the street among candidates purporting to stand on a law and order ticket. Feel free to replace with your own metaphor.

That lack of finesse has caused many I’m sure, me included, to reach for the remote at the merest hint of said drunken brawl. It’s not apathy, far from it. Much more a question about the efficacy of our political system. In recent times, it seems that people who are effecting change and getting things done. People like Ann Ming (the double jeopardy law) and [hopefully] Lucie Stephens (asbestos in schools).

Lucie’s mum was a teacher. She died from cancer caused by asbestos exposure after 30 years of teaching. Lucie promised her mum that she would do what she could to prevent others suffering from the effects of asbestos in our schools and set up a petition calling on the government to remove all asbestos from schools.

Lucie has also now set up a website that allows you to check to see whether your child’s school contains asbestos (assuming the school participated in what was a voluntary survey). With 80%+ of schools in the UK believed to still contain asbestos, the chances are very high whether declared or otherwise.

Without re-running what we’ve posted in the past about asbestos in schools, 363 UK school teachers have died of mesothelioma since 1980 with the death rate accelerating from 3 per annum in 1980 to 19 annually in 2016. Further, the rate of pupils contracting mesothelioma is believed to be 9x that of teachers.

Of course it’s not just our school buildings. Our hospitals, libraries, council offices (anything built prior to 2000) can still contain asbestos and the cost of removing it is astronomical, not to mention disruptive, with the government’s approach traditionally being one of management in place. Still around 5,000 deaths are reported each year in the UK from asbestos-related diseases.

Perhaps in trying to avoid the election coverage, I missed the competing parties’ statements on their approach to dealing with this existential threat? What I did discover is that the word ‘asbestos’ is missing from each of their manifestos – Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrats, SNP, Green, Brexit. Perhaps the equivalent of 10 jumbo jets full of people dying from asbestos related diseases every year in this country isn’t a big enough issue to make it into a manifesto? Or, maybe one of the parties missed an excellent opportunity to campaign on investing in a solution to this problem?

So what can we do? Support Lucie for one.

As a software vendor for permit-to-work, we’ve already made our asbestos module (delivering CAR2012 compliance) free of charge. You can download the flow diagram here and watch a demonstration of the solution below.

To discuss how we can help you keep everyone safe in your facilities work, including where asbestos is thought to be present, please contact us.

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