Asbestos fibres still lingering in the UK’s school buildings are killing as many as 300 ex-pupils and 15 teachers every year, according to what the Daily Mirror has described as a “shock report”. Indeed, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) has echoed the calls of the newspaper’s Asbestos Timebomb Campaign for a countrywide audit to assess the current asbestos risk in schools.
As it was ruled by an inquest that a Gloucestershire mum and art teacher’s recent death was attributable to an industrial disease resulting from her exposure to asbestos at work, NUT general secretary Christine Blower commented: “There has to be a proper audit to determine the scale of the problem. The dangers of asbestos in schools are obvious. What is needed to truly address the problem is a concerted effort on a national scale.”
Blower urged political parties to “actively engage with a problem which is very far from being addressed and has taken many lives”, in another development highlighting the continuing relevance of asbestos awareness training for the UK’s educational establishments. The NUT has said that asbestos remains present in nine in every 10 schools, a survey suggesting that despite this, 44% of teachers had not been made aware whether this was the case for their own workplace.
Even of those teachers who knew that their school was home to asbestos, a mere 15% had been shown a copy of the management plan for tackling the problem. Even more concerning, in a world that might have hoped that asbestos awareness training was no longer necessary, were the claims of one in three teachers that they knew of an incident at their establishment that might have led to asbestos exposure.
Painswick mother-of-four Jennifer (Jen) Barnett died five months’ ago, aged 60, following her diagnosis with the extremely aggressive cancer of the lung lining, mesothelioma, which is strongly associated with the breathing in of asbestos dust. She taught at Archway School – where she was known as Miss Shonk – from 1980 to 1997, and her family believe that asbestos contact occurred there when she pinned up work by her pupils onto the ceilings and walls.
Such deaths are rightly only increasing the sense of urgency among many to do everything that they can to prevent further tragedies relating to asbestos, which was only completely banned from new buildings in 1999. Get in touch with Trident Surveying now about how our comprehensive asbestos awareness training can help to minimise the risk to your own employees and contractors.