HSE Announces Results of Asbestos Management in Schools Inspections 2013/14
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published the results of its latest asbestos in schools inspection initiative.
HSE inspected a carefully selected random sample of 153 non-local authority schools between April 2013 and January 2014, which included independent, voluntary aided and foundation schools, free schools and academies.
71 per cent of schools inspected required either no further action or were given straightforward, simple advice. However, 29 per cent (44 schools) received written advice from HSE, and 13 per cent (20 schools) were subject to enforcement action in the form of improvement notices.
The improvement notices required the schools to improve arrangements for managing asbestos. Enforcement action was taken over failures such as training staff and producing written management plans – not because staff or pupils were considered at significant risk of exposure, but because these are vital elements of the required control measures.
The inspections revealed a number of common themes in those cases where schools were falling short of the requirements.
All schools must ensure they have up to date records of asbestos containing materials in their school – this is to make sure that the school knows the location of any asbestos containing materials that could be damaged or disturbed by normal activities, by foreseeable maintenance, or when installing new equipment.
Training is essential for maintenance staff whose work could foreseeably expose them to asbestos and every school needs a robust system to alert anyone who may disturb asbestos at the school. The key group of personnel at risk from asbestos is tradespeople – particularly those undertaking maintenance activities. It is vital that schools ensure that anyone who may disturb asbestos is made aware of its location and condition.
Asbestos which is in good condition and remains undamaged and undisturbed does not pose any significant risk to health if it is managed in compliance with the legal requirements and according to HSE’s published guidance.
- Information, instruction and training is required within all premises. All staff need to be made aware of the presence of asbestos and the potential dangers. Maintenance workers are required to attend training to understand the level of risk as they are at a higher level of risk through potential exposure during their work activities.
- The duty holder is the person responsible for maintenance and repair of the premises.
- The duty holder, which may be one or several persons, should delegate a suitable competent person/s as responsible for the identification and management of potential asbestos.
- The duty holder must ensure that an asbestos survey by a competent person is undertaken to identify if asbestos containing materials (ACMs) are present in the building.
- The survey should identify what type of ACMs are present, the risks and the location.
- If ACMs are found in the building a management plan must be developed and implemented.
- The ACMs should be labelled in the location they are found.
- Monitoring of ACMs locations should be planned.
- If ACMs are found, all staff should receive appropriate information, instruction and training to understand the risks and the procedure if the asbestos is disturbed.
- Contractors who work within the building must be made aware of the asbestos survey and its findings.
- If ACMs are disturbed then only licensed contractors must carry out remedial work to remove the ACMs and ensure the area is safe.
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, the Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) and guidance text for employers can be found on the HSE website.
Doyle Clayton can provide support with ensuring the development and review of suitable and sufficient asbestos management plans and risk assessments. Please contact Sally Beck for further information.
The articles published on this website, current at the date of publication, are for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your own circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.