Schools

Health and safety watchdog to inspect schools’ asbestos management

DfE data suggests more than eight in 10 schools have the harmful material on their sites

DfE data suggests more than eight in 10 schools have the harmful material on their sites

The Health and Safety Executive will inspect schools across England to assess how leaders are managing the risks from asbestos.

From this September, HSE inspections of primary and secondary schools will look at how leaders are meeting their “duty to manage” the harmful building material.

Asbestos is present on more than eight in 10 school sites, a Department for Education survey in 2018 estimated.

The survey also found that almost a fifth of schools were not managing asbestos in line with government guidance.

HSE inspectors will contact schools to arrange suitable dates and times for inspections. They will also need to speak to someone “with knowledge of how asbestos is managed by the school”.

Inspectors may also need to see documents such as asbestos registers and management plans.

To prepare, the HSE said schools “may wish to review their current arrangements and check that they are meeting their duties”.

The rules require schools to take “reasonable steps” to find out if there is asbestos on their premises, as well as the amount, where it is and the condition it is in.

Schools must also presume materials contain asbestos unless there is “strong evidence that they do not”, and have to assess the risk of anyone being exposed to fibres from the materials identified.

Schools also have to prepare an asbestos management plan that sets out in detail how the risks from these materials will be managed, take “necessary steps” to put the plan into action, and periodically review and monitor the plan.

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