Pupils ‘hosed down’ amid asbestos fear at North East school

asbestosPupils ‘hosed down’ amid asbestos fear at North East school

Pupils at a crumbling North East school had to be “hosed down” to ensure they did not
have asbestos fibres on them, the Commons Public Accounts Committee heard.

The committee, which is holding an inquiry into capital funding for schools including school buildings, heard from former headteacher at Hetton School in Sunderland, Phil Keay, as well as current acting headteacher Craig Knowles.

“When ceilings lift, the dust then falls”

The headteachers spoke about the risks to pupils as the school faced an almost decade-long wait for new buildings after originally being told in 2007 that it would be rebuilt as part of the then-Labour government’s Building Schools for the Future programme.

However, this was cancelled when the Conservative-led coalition government came to power in 2010. After several years of uncertainty as to whether the school would be rebuilt after all, including the collapse of a private funding deal, pupils were finally able to move into new buildings last September.

Mr Knowles told MPs: “We had to close various different areas of the school in windy conditions because of the potential asbestos problems.”

Mr Keay said that asbestos would be exposed when wind passed through the building and caused ceiling tiles to rise, explaining: “When ceilings lift, the dust then falls.

“So we had two or three cases where we had to close off school, and in fact pupils had to go into the de-fumigation van, the emergency van, to make sure they were de-dusted and hosed down and cleaned.

“It was not a building that was fit to have children in for several years prior to its closure and move to a new building.”

Continuing concerns over school asbestos procedures

According to the Government’s own report, a fifth of schools are “not fully compliant” with proper asbestos procedures, leaving about a million children at risk of exposure.

The report also stated that 100 schools were considered to be a “significant cause for concern”.

Is your own school doing everything it can to guard against the risk asbestos could pose to the health and wellbeing of your pupils? Here at Trident Asbestos Solutions, we take pride in undertaking comprehensive asbestos management to give our clients the very greatest peace of mind.




Asbestos still present in over 80% of schools

One in five’ schools pose asbestos risk to students and staff

The subject of asbestos in schools has rumbled on for long enough to be highly familiar to many of those enquiring about the asbestos management plans that Trident Asbestos Solutions can provide. Now, the Education Funding Agency (EFA) has released a report revealing that schoolchildren and teachers are being put at risk of exposure to the lethal fibres in about one in five of England’s schools.

Asbestos still present in over 80% of schools

Many alarming statistics appear in the report, including that asbestos remains present in 83% of schools, as well as that 19% have been failing to safely manage the risk. In more than 100 schools, the situation has been sufficiently serious for the Department for Education (DfE) to be forced to intervene.

The research into how asbestos in schools is managed involved the participation of more than 5,500 schools, 4,646 (83.1%) of which reported the presence of the potentially deadly substance. The research also found significant failures to protect against the risks of asbestos.

“Around 20% were not fully compliant,” the report stated, “in that they did not have fully documented plans, processes and procedures in place at the time of the data collection; or did not know if asbestos was present.

The report continued that there was “significant cause for concern” in 114 schools, all of which were contacted, “have provided assurances that asbestos, where it is still present, is being managed effectively and have adequately addressed our concerns.”

New asbestos risk management guidance issued to schools 

Worries about the number of schools failing to properly manage the risks of asbestos have led the EFA to release new guidance, including a reminder to schoolteachers not to put drawing pins into walls, given the potential for this to release asbestos fibres where the material is present.

The EFA has said: “Managed carefully, the presence of asbestos in your school will not pose a risk to your staff and pupils. However, poor management of asbestos in your school could endanger lives.”

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, stated in response to the news: “It is deeply concerning that 20% of those schools responding to the data collection were not fully compliant with regulations.

“Asbestos is lethal. The only safe asbestos is removed asbestos. The DfE must bring forward proposals for the phased removal of all asbestos in schools without delay.”

If you have fears about the presence of asbestos in your own school and the risk it could pose to your students and staff, we would urge you to contact us here at Trident Asbestos Solutions. Our asbestos removal contractor audits can play a critical role and provide vital peace of mind.






Fears of contamination posing a risk to beach users

Asbestos concerns raised over partially collapsed Victorian pier

We see many a news story from time to time here at Trident Asbestos Solutions that helps to demonstrate the wide range of circumstances in which specialists in asbestos removals may be required, but it’s not every day that we report on the collapse of a prominent historic structure.

However, such is the nature of a story that we have recently spotted in the North Wales Daily Post, reporting the sad partial collapse of Colwyn Bay’s Victoria Pier.

Of more obvious relevance to our own line of business was the warning by a prominent local business leader that if the Grade II-listed structure was allowed to completely fall into the sea as feared, the beach could become polluted with asbestos – posing a risk to visitor safety.

Fears of contamination posing a risk to beach users

The pier was officially opened in June 1900 but has been in a state of disrepair in recent years, prompting a judge to declare in 2015 that it was unsafe and in danger of collapsing into the sea at any moment. This finally occurred in part earlier this month.

This has led Roy Bichan, vice-chairman of the North Wales Economic Ambition Board and chairman of the board at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, to express his concern that if the pier completely collapsed, a large amount of asbestos could be deposited on the seashore.

The Rhos-on-Sea resident particularly highlighted the pier’s largest building, which he said contained asbestos in its roof and sidings, commenting: “Conwy Council have been pretty clear the buildings have a large quantity of asbestos in them, which was of course the ‘miraculous’ material used at the time.”

Mr Bichan added that “to be fair, in my opinion the council are trying to do the right thing but are being blocked by the likes of Cadw”, a reference to the Welsh government’s historic environment service.

He asserted that “to demolish safely is the only option. If it collapses, asbestos would end up in the sea and on the beach. It would be hazardous as the beach would have to be sealed off. It would become a major health hazard.”

Calling the pier an “eyesore”, he said that those attempting to save it “do not live in the real world”.

Council “fully aware of the risks”

A Conwy Council spokeswoman said the authority was “fully aware of the risks” and that “any works to the pier will be carried out in a safe, carefully planned and controlled manner” in light of the presence of asbestos in its buildings.  

Nonetheless, such a story is perhaps a reminder, once again, of how crucial it is for the owners and managers of all manner of structures in the UK to be proactive in undertaking professional and effective asbestos removals before the lethal fibres are allowed to pose any danger to public health.

Contact the Trident Asbestos Solutions team now about the services that we can provide in relation to your own organisation’s premises.






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