School science experiments cancelled as asbestos is found in Bunsen burner gauze mats

Concerns have been aired as to the potential risk to pupils and teachers across the UK as a result of the use of equipment that has now been discovered to contain asbestos.

As reported by Sky News and The Telegraph, the Department for Education (DfE) has written to all of the UK’s colleges and secondary schools, ordering them to cease using Bunsen burner gauze mats that are believed to be partially made from the lethal substance.

The schools have been told to remove any gauzes dating back to 1976, amid growing calls to publicly name the two suppliers of the affected mats.

Staff and student safety “of the utmost importance”

In its letter, the DfE advised headteachers to “remove current supplies from use until you have established whether the gauzes used in your school or college have been provided from an asbestos-free source.”

It added that the recipient should follow “with immediate effect” advice on the website of the school science advisory service CLEAPSS.

“We appreciate that following these steps may affect your school or college’s delivery of the science curriculum and science departments may need to reschedule practical science lessons until such time that they can secure a fresh supply of gauzes,” the letter added.

“The safety of staff and students is of the utmost importance.”

HSE assures schools of “extremely low” risk – but worries remain

The type of asbestos discovered in the tested gauzes was the relatively rare tremolite asbestos. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said “limited quantitative testing” on gauze materials from the two suppliers had shown them to consist of 20% to 30% asbestos, although the substance was not detected in all gauzes tested.

The HSE has expressed a belief that the gauzes pose an “extremely low” risk to health, and that schools should halt their use of them only as a precautionary measure.

However, Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, condemned it as “unacceptable” that the suppliers had not been named, and called on schools minister Damian Hinds to demand the release of this information publicly to relieve the “anxiety and distress” of staff, pupils and parents.

He added: “There are serious questions to be asked and answered about this appalling situation.”

Choose Trident Asbestos Solutions for a wide range of asbestos services

With such services as asbestos management surveys, demolition surveys, air testing, awareness training and even site audits for asbestos removal contractors all available from our team here at Trident Asbestos Solutions, we can play a critical role in keeping your firms’ premises safe.

Call us now for a competitive quotation, on 03333 441555, so that you can soon benefit from our highly responsive, far-reaching and trusted services with regard to all aspects of the management and removal of asbestos.

‘400 Britons die each year’ due to asbestos in schools

Any research pointing to the continued pressing need for asbestos awareness training and removal services is always greatly saddening, but also necessary, given persistent perceptions in some quarters that asbestos-related disease ‘only’ affects those who have worked in construction or industrial environments.

The truth is that even seemingly ‘low-risk’ workplaces can still pose a danger of breathing in or other direct contact with the lethal fibres that could later develop into a deadly condition.

This has been demonstrated most recently by figures indicating that almost 400 people die of lung cancer in the UK each year as a consequence of exposure to asbestos at school – whether as a former pupil or teacher.

How have these numbers been determined?

 Figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that 40 teachers or support staff die from the asbestos-related lung cancer, mesothelioma, each year, with cases having increased by a third between 2015 and 2016.

Meanwhile, a study undertaken by the American Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that for every school staff member who dies, nine ex-pupils can also be expected to pass away.

This means that there could be about 360 people a year losing their lives due to asbestos they encountered as a pupil at a British school.

As reported by the Daily Express, due to the several decades that it typically requires for asbestos-related disease to develop after the sufferer’s initial contact with the harmful fibres, most cases – albeit not all – do not become apparent and diagnosed until teachers and pupils have left the school.

It is largely because of this that mesothelioma remains responsible for about 2,400 deaths in the UK annually, despite the substance having been banned on these shores in 1999.

Concerns expressed about the lingering risk in educational buildings

Despite such haunting figures, there is no obligation for schools to inform parents of the potential presence of asbestos in their child’s school. The law in this regard differs from the situation for employers, who do have to tell their employees if there is any risk of exposure to asbestos, in addition to being required to protect their workers from coming into contact with the material.

As said by one parent to the BBC’s regional Inside Out programme, in reference to their child’s school in Cumbria being temporarily closed due to the discovery of asbestos: “You expect to send your children to school for them to be safe in the building they’re in.

“You assume everything is managed correctly and if an asbestos disturbance has taken place, it’s acted on immediately – which in this instance, it doesn’t seem to be the case. It could have been there for months.”

Official HSE advice describes schools as “low-risk” for asbestos contact, adding that the substance is safe provided that it is contained, properly managed and left undisturbed.

Nonetheless, for many parents, former pupils, teachers, support staff and their loved ones, such figures as the above point to asbestos awareness training, surveys, air monitoring and related services continuing to play a vital role in ensuring the safety of school building users for many more years to come.

Contact the Trident Asbestos Solutions team today, on 03333 441555, to receive a competitive quote for any of our acclaimed asbestos services.

Asbestos-exposed builder who once worked at the BBC’s Lime Grove Studios dies

It greatly saddened our asbestos removals team here at Trident Asbestos Solutions to learn of the passing of another victim of contact with this lethal substance – this time Cyril Augustine, an erstwhile builder who at one point worked at the BBC’s now-defunct Lime Grove Studios.

As reported by the Croydon Advertiser, the 82-year-old was admitted to Croydon University Hospital on 5th March this year with “a shortness of breath and a heavy cough”, receiving care there for six weeks before dying of metastatic mesothelioma, so-named due to cancer cells having travelled through his body from large tumours in his left lung.

Mr Augustine’s death is just the latest in a long line of tragedies reminding us of the continued pressing importance of asbestos removals in the UK. However, he was also able to reflect with pride on a distinguished career in Britain since arriving here from the Caribbean island of Dominica in 1960.

A high level of contact with asbestos over almost 30 years

 Mr Augustine worked as a builder on a largely self-employed basis over nearly three decades, and closely encountered asbestos on many occasions during his career – including at the famous BBC TV and film studios, where he was required to cut through and fit asbestos sheets.

As explained in a written statement by his daughter Christina at South London Coroner’s Court, “he did this also while working for housing associations doing repairs and maintenance throughout the 1970s and 1980s, working with asbestos with no health and safety.

“He would work with asbestos in old chimney places, floors, partitioned walls and also worked for the Clapham Road Housing Association carrying out repairs, maintenance and general building work which had some exposure to asbestos on these jobs as well.”

Even in his first job in the UK for Robert Hart & Sons in 1960, Mr Augustine was required to cut asbestos sheets and attach them to doors to make them fireproof.

“No doubt in the evidence”

 The husband and father – latterly of Marlow Road, Penge – was diagnosed with the disease in August 2015, and also received treatment at the Princess Royal University Hospital in Orpington in 2017.

Recording the death as industrial disease, Dr William Dolman, assistant coroner, commented: “The post-mortem indicated a wider spread of cancer in the form of metastatic mesothelioma. He had clear contact with asbestos as most cases like this do.

“There is no doubt in the evidence with his daughter’s statement and his employment he was exposed when carrying out building work.

“The date of the contact was in the 1960s and latterly in the 1970s and 1980s, that’s still a 30-year period where the malignant developed which killed him before it was identified and diagnosed.”

 

The BBC purchased Lime Grove Studios in 1949 as a “temporary measure” until Television Centre – now also disposed of by the corporation – was ready. The broadcaster continued to use the buildings until 1991, and they were demolished in 1993.

Call 03333 441555 today for an in-depth discussion about our asbestos removals consultancy and other services that could be instrumental in keeping the users and occupants of your buildings safe from the potentially toxic effects of asbestos.

Asbestos removal required at historic former Birmingham bank

A key historic building in Birmingham – a city where Trident Asbestos Solutions also has an office – has been revealed to be riddled with asbestos, which will need to be removed before intended redevelopment of the site can take place.

As reported by the BirminghamLive website, the Grade II-listed former headquarters of the Birmingham Municipal Bank was purchased by the University of Birmingham in 2016, amid plans for the landmark building to be transformed into a city-centre exhibition venue.

However, it has now become known that the university has filed a planning application with the city council for internal works to the Broad Street building, stating that the structure contains “extensive asbestos”.

Reflecting on a rich and fascinating past 

When the bank’s headquarters was constructed in the 1930s to a design by renowned Midlands architect Thomas Cecil Howitt of Nottingham, it formed part of a grander masterplan for Centenary Square that entailed the removal of homes, factories and canal wharves to free up room for a purpose-built open public space.

The area is now being reinvigorated once more, and there are hopes that the former bank building will play a major role as a cafe, gallery, seminar rooms and research spaces for the university.

Having been opened by the late brother-in-law of Prince Philip – Prince George William of Hanover – in November 1933, the building was occupied until 1998. Along the way, the bank had ceased to be a department of the local authority in 1976, and was privatised in 1995.

A planning document submitted by London-based Make Architects emphasised the bank’s importance, stating that it was “fondly remembered in Birmingham as a symbol of the strong municipal self-sufficiency that has defined the city historically.”

A vital development at a momentous time

The university has previously stated about its plans for the building: “Our aim is to reopen the much-loved banking hall and vaults to the public, with a programme of exhibitions, events and learning activities created with the community and bringing our research to life for the city’s residents and visitors.

“We are also looking to develop a series of meeting and work spaces on the upper floors to host student entrepreneurs, research groups and training courses.”

As local specialists in asbestos awareness training, air testing, management surveys and related services, here at Trident Asbestos Solutions, we are excited about the bank building’s impending new lease of life, and can’t wait to see how development proceeds over the coming years.

In the meantime, if your organisation requires the assurance of working with the most reputable experts in asbestos management and removal, you are welcome to contact us for a quote, by calling 03333 441 555.

Asbestos removal to begin at Redcar’s iconic Regent Cinema

With one of our regional offices here at Trident Asbestos Solutions being based in Durham, we always take a keen interest in any local developments affirming the continued importance of services like ours, which range from asbestos removal contractor audits to asbestos surveys, air monitoring, project management and advice.

One announcement that greatly saddened us earlier this year was that of the sudden closure of the Regent Cinema on the seafront of the North Yorkshire town of Redcar. The manager of one of Teesside’s oldest and most-loved cinemas confirmed in April that the decision had been made to shut the venue “for the foreseeable future” due to structural problems.

Since then, work has been underway to save the building, amid hopes that the closure will not be a permanent one – and the sensitive removal of asbestos is a key focus.

Playing a distinguished role in local history

 Generations of residents of the North East town have grown up with the Regent Cinema as a familiar landmark. Built as the New Pavilion over the entrance of the now-defunct Coatham Pier in 1928, it was for many years a successful music hall and repertory theatre, hosting such acts as “Britain’s first boy band”, the Dallas Boys, and Billy Breen – an early stage-name of comedy legend Larry Grayson.

Indeed, it is thought that Grayson’s catchphrase, “shut that door!”, originated in the town when he uttered it in response to wind from the sea blowing across the stage due to a side door having been left open.

It later became a cinema, and has been run by Neil Bates since the early 1990s. In 2007, ‘The Regent’ – as it is locally known – even became a movie star in its own right, appearing in Atonement, which also starred Keira Knightley and James McAvoy.

Manager still committed amid “frustrating situation”

 Local newspaper The Northern Echo reported on Tuesday that work to remove asbestos from the cinema had now been commissioned, and was expected to start in the coming weeks.

Cabinet member at Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council for culture, tourism and communications, Carl Quartermain, said professionals were being engaged “to remove the asbestos in a secure way. Care has been taken to ensure the boards at The Regent don’t take away from the look and feel of our fantastic seafront.”

Bates commented: “It’s a frustrating situation but I remain committed to cinema in our borough. We’re hoping that temporary alternative venues to show films might be found while the required ongoing work is carried out at The Regent.”

We certainly hope here at Trident Asbestos Solutions that this vital asbestos removal work will be successful, and that this beloved landmark can return to use as a cinema in the near future. In the meantime, if your own organisation is in need of the most dependable asbestos removal contractor audits or related services, you are welcome to seek a quote from us by calling 03333 441555.

Asbestos removal to at Redcar’s iconic Regent Cinema

With one of our regional offices here at Trident Asbestos Solutions being based in the North East, we always take a keen interest in any local developments affirming the continued importance of services like ours, which range from asbestos removal contractor audits to asbestos surveys, air monitoring, project management and advice.

One announcement that greatly saddened us earlier this year was that of the sudden closure of the Regent Cinema on the seafront of the North Yorkshire town of Redcar. The manager of one of Teesside’s oldest and most-loved cinemas confirmed in April that the decision had been made to shut the venue “for the foreseeable future” due to structural problems.

Since then, work has been underway to save the building, amid hopes that the closure will not be a permanent one – and the sensitive removal of asbestos is a key focus.

Playing a distinguished role in local history

Generations of residents of the North East town have grown up with the Regent Cinema as a familiar landmark. Built as the New Pavilion over the entrance of the now-defunct Coatham Pier in 1928, it was for many years a successful music hall and repertory theatre, hosting such acts as “Britain’s first boy band”, the Dallas Boys, and Billy Breen – an early stage-name of comedy legend Larry Grayson.

Indeed, it is thought that Grayson’s catchphrase, “shut that door!”, originated in the town when he uttered it in response to wind from the sea blowing across the stage due to a side door having been left open.

It later became a cinema, and has been run by Neil Bates since the early 1990s. In 2007, ‘The Regent’ – as it is locally known – even became a movie star in its own right, appearing in Atonement, which also starred Keira Knightley and James McAvoy.

Manager still committed amid “frustrating situation”

Local newspaper The Northern Echo reported on Tuesday that work to remove asbestos from the cinema had now been commissioned, and was expected to start in the coming weeks.

Cabinet member at Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council for culture, tourism and communications, Carl Quartermain, said professionals were being engaged “to remove the asbestos in a secure way. Care has been taken to ensure the boards at The Regent don’t take away from the look and feel of our fantastic seafront.”

Bates commented: “It’s a frustrating situation but I remain committed to cinema in our borough. We’re hoping that temporary alternative venues to show films might be found while the required ongoing work is carried out at The Regent.”

We certainly hope here at Trident Asbestos Solutions that this vital asbestos removal work will be successful, and that this beloved landmark can return to use as a cinema in the near future. In the meantime, if your own organisation is in need of the most dependable asbestos removal contractor audits or related services, you are welcome to seek a quote from us by calling 03333 441555.

Discovery of asbestos adds £1.5m to the cost of work on Tamar Bridge

Critical maintenance on a major southwest England road bridge has just become even more expensive, with the news of an “unexpected discovery” of asbestos necessitating expenditure of £1.5m to put right.

The harmful material was found on Tamar Bridge in March, and meant a seven-week delay to work on the suspension system. Specialists have been brought in to implement safety measures at the bridge, where bolts are being replaced.

What do we know about the potentially dangerous fibres?

 According to Plymouth’s Herald newspaper, a report going to the Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry joint committee revealed: “Work was suspended while laboratory tests on the material were undertaken. The test results confirmed that the material was an asbestos containing material (ACM) and, as required under current legislation, the Health and Safety Executive were notified.

The report added that the material was found in the joints between the two halves of each cable band clamped around the main cable and supporting each vertical hanger cable. While the reasons for the ACM’s use when the bridge was being built between 1959 and 1961 are unknown, “it is presumed to have been considered a cheap and readily available packaging material to take up any irregularities in the castings of the cable bands prior to the application of joint sealant.”

An already-hefty bill made even greater

 The report said that overall costs had increased due to the delay caused by the halt of work and the expense of the required safety measures, meaning the final bill would now be £7.5m, instead of the initial £6m.

The contractor is said to have switched to 24-hour working to accommodate the delay and get the job done, with it now being hoped that the works will be complete by October, subject to weather conditions.

Approval for the additional funding will need to be given by the Cabinets and full councils of Cornwall Council and Plymouth City Council. The money would be provided through borrowing over 25 years.

The report to the committee said that in the absence of approval for such funding, termination of the works would be necessary.

It explained: “The works are critical to ensure the resilience of the suspension system and significant costs have already been incurred developing access arrangements and working methods. The works will need to be completed in the near future. Significant abortive costs would be associated with such termination.”

Get in touch with us about site audits and asbestos removals

 With our complete range of services here at Trident Asbestos Solutions including asbestos management surveys, testing/sampling, air monitoring, site audits for asbestos removal contractors and many others, we can be your organisation’s go-to provider of asbestos expertise.

Call our team today, on 03333 441555, for a competitive quote.

Former Sunderland seamstress’s widower seeks information over her asbestos-related death

The devastated husband of a retired seamstress from Sunderland whose death was attributed to asbestos-related disease has appealed to her old colleagues to provide insight into how she could have come into contact with the lethal fibres.

Jean Davis died at the age of 81 at Sunderland Royal Infirmary in February, about 11 months after her diagnosis with mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the lung lining suffered by many of those to have inhaled asbestos.

Senior coroner for Sunderland, Derek Winter, recorded at an inquest a week after her death that she passed away due to industrial disease.

A search for answers for Jean’s loved ones

 Gordon Davis, who was married to Jean for nearly 60 years, instructed specialist industrial disease lawyers at the Newcastle office of Irwin Mitchell to look into her illness and determine whether she could have been prevented from coming into contact with the deadly substance.

It is as part of these investigations that the legal firm is asking any former workmate of Jean during the period between 1972 and 1989 when she worked as a seamstress at the site of County Luxdon Laundry Ltd on Wycliffe Road, Sunderland to get in touch.

Mr Davis’s legal representative, Emma Tordoff, said: “Just a couple of months on from her death, Jean’s family remain understandably devastated by their loss, and are desperate to understand how she came to develop mesothelioma.

“We are determined to ensure that Jean’s loved ones gain justice regarding her death. We would be hugely grateful to anyone who may be able to shed further light on the presence of asbestos at this site and the working conditions that Jean would have generally faced.”

What is already known about Jean’s workplace?

 County Luxdon Laundry was later known as De Mille Cleaners. Jean worked within the company’s pressing area, which some witnesses have already told Irwin Mitchell was very hot due to the presence of irons and presses.

Furthermore, it has been suggested that asbestos lagging was present on pipework near where Jean worked.

Mr Davis, 83, commented: “Losing Jean has been incredibly difficult for me and the entire family. She was a very proud and secretive woman, so many of the family only ultimately learned of her illness around Christmas time, when her condition had deteriorated.

“While nothing will ever change what has happened, we all just want to know whether her illness could have been prevented and whether more should have been done to protect her. If anyone could help, it would be hugely appreciated.”

Those with potentially helpful information are urged to contact Irwin Mitchell’s Emma Tordoff by emailing emma.tordoff@irwinmitchell.com or calling (0191) 2790095.

Through the vast range of asbestos-related services that we provide here at Trident Asbestos Solutions, including asbestos management surveys, demolition surveys, asbestos testing and the removal of asbestos, we can help to maximise your peace of mind with regard to the safety of your premises. Phone us now, on 03333 441555, for your competitive quotation.

 

North East England records particularly high rate of asbestos-related deaths

As reported by the ChronicleLive website, figures have now been released detailing the number of deaths from asbestos-related disease across the UK over the last few decades, making for particularly grim reading for the North East of England.

North Tyneside and South Tyneside ranked third and fourth respectively on the death register, a sad reflection of the formerly thriving shipyard and building industry in this part of the country.

Thousands in the region recorded to have died due to asbestos

 The high occurrence of asbestos-related deaths in the North East is a subject that is especially close to our hearts here at Trident Asbestos Solutions, given the two offices that we maintain in the region, in Sunderland and Durham.

Nonetheless, given the history of the area, it sadly does not shock us that almost 6,300 deaths were recorded across the region from 1981 to 2015 due to exposure to the deadly fibres.

When the death numbers are compared to how many would normally be expected to die in the area – the standard mortality ratio – North Tyneside is placed third in the UK for the highest rate of male mesothelioma deaths, with 491. This compares to the 364 recorded for fourth-ranked South Tyneside, with only Barrow-in-Furness and West Dunbartonshire placing higher across the entire country.

As for female mesothelioma deaths, Sunderland came in second with 144, only beaten by Barking and Dagenham.

A truly bleak set of figures for the area

 The numbers from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) showed that between 1981 and 2015, 2,319 people – 1,969 male and 350 female – died of mesothelioma in the Tyne and Wear area alone. The rest of the North East saw 3,979 mesothelioma deaths – 3,415 male and 564 female – in the same timeframe.

It is all a very depressing reminder of the continued paramount importance of the work of asbestos removal contractors in ridding sites across the region and beyond of this potentially extremely dangerous material.

We can help to protect against the perils of asbestos

 Please contact the Trident Asbestos Solutions team today, on 03333 441555 or by completing and submitting our straightforward quote request form, to find out more about the work that our own professionals can do to make your premises safer.

We have offices in Edinburgh, Leeds, Birmingham and London as well as the North East of England, which enables us to provide a genuinely nationwide service.

Public ‘not at risk’ from asbestos after Glasgow nightclub fire

One of the sternest recent tests for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service occurred on the morning of Thursday 22nd March, when a fire took hold in the roof of a building on Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street that it was initially feared could spread to nearby structures such as the historic Pavilion Theatre.

Thankfully, that dreaded scenario did not come to pass, although the decision was made by Glasgow City Council not to allow staff access to the theatre for about two months amid concerns about smoke damage and damage caused to some of the venue’s doors by fire-fighters.

Nonetheless, one positive development is the fire service’s statement that there is “no risk” to the public of being exposed to asbestos as a result of the sad blaze.

Vital atmospheric testing undertaken

 According to a fire service spokesperson on 23rd March, atmospheric testing had been carried out and “concluded that there is no risk to the public from asbestos.”

However, the council deemed buildings at 92-96 and 98-106 – the latter including Victoria’s nightclub – to be unsafe, adding that they would have to be demolished.

The fire broke out at about 8:20am on the Thursday, and at its height, more than 120 fire-fighters and 20 fire engines were mobilised to the city centre.

What dangers can asbestos pose in fires like this?

 While worries about the asbestos risk from this particular high-profile fire have thankfully been quelled, that does not mean your own buildings could not pose such a danger in the event of a devastating conflagration like this.

The use of asbestos in buildings in the UK was completely banned before the end of the 20th century, but the harmful material may still be present in properties built or revamped before then.

Asbestos was once widely used in such areas of buildings as under the floorboards, boilers, pipework, insulation, calorifiers and heat exchangers. If a person inhales asbestos fibres, some may become trapped in the organs and cause deadly diseases such as lung cancer, asbestosis or malignant mesothelioma. Thousands of deaths each year are linked to asbestos-related diseases.

Don’t leave asbestos removals to chance

 If you are unsure whether the users or occupants of your buildings or members of the public could be exposed to asbestos on your premises, it’s essential to avoid any unnecessary risks.

Instead, get on the phone to our experts in asbestos removals here at Trident Asbestos Solutions today, calling 03333 441555 for your competitive quotation.  

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