Thursday, 13 November 2014

Asbestos in Schools

Last week I wrote to our local school, our catchment school to ask if I could obtain a copy of their asbestos reports and management plans.  I obviously explained that Ethan will be due to start school in September 2015 and his Daddy has Mesothelioma.  This week I received a reply inviting me into the school to view the asbestos register.  I made an appointment with their Office and Facilities Manager and this morning I went for the appointment.

They couldn't have been more helpful and had gathered together the register and plans of the school and some other supporting documentation for me to look at.  The register was quite extensive and it was clear that the whole school (parts built before asbestos was banned anyway) had been inspected thoroughly to find, and where necessary, carry out work to any asbestos found.

The areas in the school where asbestos had been found were in a store cupboard, boiler room, flooring tiles and the adhesive used to stick them down.  There is also a query over a radiator and if the inside of it does contain asbestos.  I was shown the store cupboard and the pipes concerned have now been encased so they are no longer accessible.  This is also the case in the boiler room.  Neither of these are accessed by pupils though so they are not a concern to me in this instance.  I was shown a classroom where the floor has been replaced and apparently the floor was scraped, cleaned and re-carpeted.  Any asbestos remaining is now covered.  However, in the same classroom there is a cupboard where the flooring has not been covered (I am unsure of why it wasn't just done while the classroom was?) but it is deemed to be low risk and I am sure they are following all the necessary guidance they need too.  I asked about the cupboard and if teachers are aware about its possible asbestos danger.  I could tell from the ladies face they are unaware but she did assure me no work was ever carried out with teachers or pupils present.  She also showed me the radiator that they have a query about and I believe I have seen pictures of this type of radiator and it probably does contain asbestos.  It is however also encased and therefore not accessible.  

All in all, they are following the rules as far as I can see and they only have asbestos which is deemed low risk.  They were very helpful to me. 

I would urge any parent or prospective parent to ask their school about asbestos (for those schools built pre 2000).  If schools were always asked about it, it would ensure it was at the forefront of their minds and they would all be following the correct rules and procedures.  

My conclusion really hasn't changed a great deal.  Any asbestos, low risk or otherwise is still a risk.  We will do our best for Ethan to avoid that risk however small.  Asbestos has already altered his life and that of his parents enough.  Wish us luck getting a place at the new build school!!

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