The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is cracking down on schools across England and Wales in a bid to assess how leaders are managing the risks from asbestos.
During September, HSE inspections of primary and secondary schools will look at how leaders are meeting their ‘duty to manage’ the harmful building material.
More than three quarters of Britain’s schools contain asbestos, according to the Department for Education.
The inspections will be assessing how schools are managing the risks from asbestos within the school estate and meeting the ‘duty to manage’ (DTM) requirements under Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR).
To prepare, the HSE said schools ‘may wish to review their current arrangements and check that they are meeting their duties’.
In advance of the inspections, schools may wish to review their current arrangements and check that they are meeting their duties under CAR, which includes requirements to:
- take reasonable steps to find out if there are asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) in the school premises, and if so, the amount, where it is and what condition it is in
- presume materials contain asbestos unless there is strong evidence that they do not
- make, and keep up to date, a record of the location and condition of any ACMs – or materials which are presumed to contain asbestos
- assess the risk of anyone being exposed to fibres from the materials identified
- prepare an asbestos management plan (AMP) that sets out in detail how the risks from these materials will be managed
- take the necessary steps to put the plan into action
- periodically review and monitor the plan and the arrangements, and act on the findings, so the plan and arrangements remain relevant and up to date
- provide information on the location and condition of the materials to anyone who is liable to work on, or disturb them.
The visits will be carried out by HSE inspectors, who will contact the school before visiting to arrange a suitable date and time for the inspection.
They will need to speak to someone with knowledge of how asbestos is managed by the school and may also ask to see certain documentation in advance of the visit e.g. your asbestos register and management plan, the safety watchdog said in a statement.