Fears of Asbestos Hazard in Schools
A CAMPAIGN claimed yesterday that children in Wales are more at risk to exposure of asbestos in schools, than in England. The ‘Right to Know’ campaign said there is no guidance issued to local authorities in Wales as to the management of asbestos in school buildings, unlike in England.
The group, which wants councils to publish a register of schools containing asbestos, said the Department for Education put clear guidelines in place in October 2012. It is estimated that 85% of schools across Wales contain asbestos.
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: We take this issue very seriously but there is no evidence to suggest that pupils in Wales are more at risk from exposure to asbestos than pupils in England. Responsibility for the management of asbestos lies with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which maintained the best approach to asbestos in sound condition was to leave it well alone.
Legislation and guidance from the HSE applies equally to schools in England and Wales. The Welsh Local Government Association has issued information on the management of asbestos which reflects the HSE guidance.
Cenric Clement-Evans cited findings from leading experts that children exposed to asbestos were more vulnerable to developing the cancer mesothelioma than adults. A report by the Committee on Carcinogenicity said that a five-year-old is five times more likely than an adult of 30 to develop mesothelioma if they are exposed to it at the same time, he said.
The Department for Education in England, intends to carry out a review of its policy on asbestos in schools in light of the report, he said. The Right to Know campaign wants parents to be able to access a database online to check if asbestos is present in any school, and whether an up-to-date management plan is in place. Two Welsh councils, Monmouthshire and Torfaen, have committed to publishing their asbestos in schools data on their websites.
Mr Clement-Evans said: The issue of asbestos requires strong leadership from the Welsh Government. Currently, we are not receiving that level of leadership and it is putting our children and all those who work in schools at risk.
Local authorities or schools governing bodies in Wales have a legal responsibility to have up-to date records on the location and condition of asbestos containing material and to ensure management plans are in place.
The public can ask local authorities or governing bodies to access this information, the Welsh Government said.
Make sure your property adheres to the latest rulings, arrange an asbestos management plan online.