Management of Asbestos in School Buildings (Part 1)

Between September 2022 and March 2023, HSE have undertaken a program of inspections in schools across Great Britain with the aim of measuring compliance with The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012

In particular to Regulation 4 – “The Duty to Manage Asbestos in Non-domestic Premises”. The inspections identified some common areas for improvement, which schools should consider when reviewing their own arrangements.

The key findings included:
• schools not having an up-to-date survey on site that clearly shows the location of asbestos throughout the estate and highlights any areas not surveyed (which should be presumed to contain asbestos).
• registers not clearly indicating if remedial action identified during a survey has been completed and records updated.
• schools not having a clear and easily understandable asbestos management plan in place that is specific to their site.
• schools not regularly monitoring the condition of asbestos-containing materials.
• asbestos management plans not having incident procedures for dealing with an unplanned disturbance of asbestos-containing materials, or how to provide information to emergency services who attend sites.
• school staff not having clear roles and responsibilities for managing asbestos and not having deputies or contingency plans in place to cover for staff absences.
• schools not ensuring that contractors tendering for work provide risk assessments, method statements, and evidence of asbestos awareness training.

HSE were keen to reiterate that while some failures were found in some schools’ management systems “this does not mean there was an actual risk of exposure”.

Action Taken
During the programme of visits, a total of 30 notices were served, which included 2 prohibition notices and 28 improvement notices. Among the remaining schools which were not served a notice, 112 schools received a letter detailing the action required to achieve compliance (these were issued where enforcement action was not deemed necessary).

Regarding the improvement notices, the most common findings were:
• inadequate or missing asbestos management plans (13 and 8 cases respectively);
• inadequate or missing asbestos surveys (5 cases and 1 case respectively).

Read the report in full here: Management of asbestos in school buildings 2022/23 – HSE
Only 66% of schools visited were found to be effectively managing asbestos and required either no further action or verbal advice, it is clear there are improvements to be made.

In this article series we will explain how to improve when complying with the key findings of this report.