Results announced of HSE’s latest asbestos management in schools inspections

 

Asbestos in Schools

Asbestos in Schools

A timely reminder of the importance of the right asbestos management surveys in educational establishments is the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) publication of the results of its most recent asbestos in schools inspection initiative.

The period between April 2013 and January 2014 saw the inspection by HSE of a carefully selected random sample of 153 schools outside local authority control, including independent, voluntary aided and foundation schools, academies and free schools.

71 per cent of the inspected schools were not required to make any changes to their present asbestos management arrangements or were given straightforward, simple advice. HSE did give written advice to 29 per cent (44 schools), and needed to take enforcement action for 13 per cent (20 schools). This action was in the form of improvement notices setting out a requirement for recipient schools to adjust their asbestos management arrangements.

Failures like training staff and the production of written management plans attracted enforcement action – not due to pupils or staff being deemed at significant risk of exposure, but because these are vital elements of the required control measures.

The new survey showed an overall improvement in compliance with the Control of Asbestos Regulations in England, Scotland and Wales compared to the findings of a similar programme that inspected 164 non-local authority schools in 2010/11, when 28 schools had 41 improvement notices served upon them.

The Head of HSE’s Public Services Sector, Geoff Cox, said that the last few years had seen “a lot of work by stakeholders across the school sector to raise awareness of the duty to manage asbestos. It is really encouraging to see that awareness of the requirements has increased since our previous inspection initiative.

“That said, schools should not be under any illusion – managing asbestos requires ongoing attention. Schools now have access to a wealth of guidance setting out clear and straightforward steps to achieve and maintain compliance. Where duty holders fall below acceptable standards, HSE has taken, and will continue to take, enforcement action.”

All schools are required to have up to date records of materials within their establishment that contain asbestos, so that the school knows the location of such materials that could be damaged or disturbed by normal activities or foreseeable maintenance, or when new equipment is being installed.

There is no significant risk to health posed by asbestos in good condition that remains undamaged and undisturbed, provided that appropriate asbestos management takes place in compliance with the legal requirements and in line with published HSE advice.

Training for maintenance staff whose work could lead to their exposure to asbestos is also essential, with such personnel needing to be made aware of the location and condition of any asbestos in the school.

Lung cancer no longer just a ‘smokers’ disease’

Lung cancer should no longer be seen as a “smokers’ disease” because one in five new cases has nothing to do with the habit, the chief executive of Cancer Research UK has said.A drop in the number of smokers means that fewer are developing lung cancer, but the number of people who contract the disease from other causes, such as asbestos, remains steady at about 6,000 per year in the UK.It means that while smoking is still the leading cause of lung cancer, the proportion of non-smoking related cases is growing larger over time.Speaking at the launch of a major genetic study of the disease on Wednesday Dr HarpalKumar said: “It is not so long ago that we used to say more than nine in ten lung cancers were smoking-related, and now we say eight in ten.”People tend to think it is just a smokers’ disease, but it isn’t,” he added. “It is a significant problem, and one that is growing globally.”While scientists have made major improvements in diagnosis and treatment for breast and other cancers in recent years, there has been virtually no improvement in lung cancer survival rates since 1970.Along with problems like the typically late diagnosis of lung cancer, which makes it harder for researchers to obtain biopsies for studies and recruit patients to trials, the perception of the condition as a problem for smokers could be one reason why progress has been so slow, Dr Kumar said.The new £14 million study launched on Wednesday is aimed at tracking the genetic changes which trigger the growth of tumours and help them develop resistance to drugs.Genetic mutations are known to drive the development of cancer, but are also the target of drugs aimed at stopping tumours in their tracks.The project, one of the largest ever studies of lung cancer patients, will focus on how tumours continue to develop new mutations as they grow, making them genetically complex.Their continued evolution means all cells in a tumour do not share the same characteristics and are often quite different – a major problem which has hindered progress in developing new drugs for the disease.Over the course of nine years scientists will analyse thousands of tumour biopsies from 850 patients across the UK, examining the genetic differences within individual tumours and between different patients.Identifying which mutations occur first, and are therefore shared by the largest proportion of cells in a tumour, could allow doctors to select the drug with the biggest potential impact for each individual patient.Prof Charlie Swanton of Cancer Research UK’s London Research Institute and University College London, who is leading the study, said: “Success in treating lung cancer has been difficult to achieve but we’re hoping to change that.”The first step to improving cancer diagnosis and treatment is to understand more about the disease and how it changes over time.”Source – The Telegraphhttp://bit.ly/15YUf96

asbestos surveys, asbestos disease, asbestos management

Contractor fined for exposing workers to Asbestos

A Decorating and Refurbishment contractor has been fined for exposing employees, agency staff and members of the public to asbestos.In 2009 a refurbishment project was undertaken over several weeks at Sentinel House, Nuffield Industrial, Poole by MJC Decorating and Refurbishing Ltd.During the project the contractor began removing ceilings at the two story block without carrying out a suitable asbestos survey in advance to determine whether asbestos was present. The appropriate survey prior to any works being carried out would have been the asbestos Refurbishment Survey.When visiting the site the HSE Inspector found widespread asbestos contamination both inside and outside the building. Investigations also revealed that some of the other material that had been removed from the site may have been asbestos containing but may have been treat as non hazardous material.As a result of the contractors actions four employees and fourteen agency staff working under the control of the contractor had been exposed to the dangerous asbestos fibres.It took over two weeks for the MJC Contractors to remove the asbestos insulation board (AIB) ceiling. During this period the contractors were only wearing normal clothing and face masks if worn at all.MJC Decorating and Refurbishing Ltd, of London Road, North Cheam, Sutton, Surrey, pleaded guilty to three breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations. It was fined a total of £45,000 and ordered to pay £36,943 in costs.Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector, Helena Tinton, said:”This was a very serious incident which carries severe risks for people’s health.”MJC’s safety failings led to the needless exposure to dangerous asbestos fibres of its employees, agency staff and the wider public. The firm didn’t carry out a suitable survey for asbestos material before the work started and failed to provide protection for workers on site.”Regulations on dealing safely with asbestos have been in place for many years and are widely known in the industry.”This totally needless incident would not have happened if MJC had carried out proper assessments.”This once again highlights the importance of following the correct procedures and ensuring that an asbestos survey has been carried out to locate any possible asbestos containing materials. After all it is the law.asbestos dust, asbestos exposure, asbestos surveys

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