_ap_ufes{"success":true,"siteUrl":"friableasbestos.com","urls":{"Home":"http://friableasbestos.com","Category":"http://friableasbestos.com/category/current-asbestos-news/","Archive":"http://friableasbestos.com/2015/04/","Post":"http://friableasbestos.com/asbestos-firms-ready-to-fight-silvers-slanted-legal-system/","Page":"http://friableasbestos.com/effect-asbestos-mesothelioma/","Nav_menu_item":"http://friableasbestos.com/69/"}}_ap_ufee

December 16, 2017

Asbestos concerns expose flaws in monitoring hazardous material in our schools, claim campaigners

Wales is in danger of falling down a “devolutionary crack” in regulations over the monitoring of asbestos on schools, campaigners have warned.

The Right To Know: Asbestos in Schools Wales campaign has warned existing regulations issued in England do not apply to Wales, meaning neither educational or health and safety guidance would apply.

It comes ahead of a reception held by asbestos activists in the Senedd on Tuesday to warn of the dangers of asbestos in schools, set up following the closure of a school due to a report in October finding pupils were at risk from the material.

The school is due to reopen in September after Caerphilly councillors unanimously approved £1m of work to remove asbestos from the site.

But the Right To Know campaign – which is targeting the Welsh Government and local councils – is calling for a national online register of asbestos levels across Welsh schools.

Education Minister Leighton Andrews asked all 22 Welsh councils for assurances on the content of asbestos in their schools in the wake of Cwmcarn’s closure, later saying he was not satisfied Welsh councils were meeting their legal requirements.

But he has insisted that responsibility over monitoring of asbestos in schools lies with local authorities, and the Welsh Local Government Association has issued guidelines on the management of asbestos to local authorities.

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams had called for a national audit of asbestos after the Cwmcarn closure.

The building material is known to be carcinogenic and is linked with a variety of cancers and respiratory diseases – though it can be considered safe if it remains structurally undisturbed.

Cenric Clement-Evans, spokesman for the campaign and lawyer with Cardiff-based NewLaw, said the campaign wanted the Welsh Government to take a lead on the issue.

“Now our concern is that the Guidance on Asbestos Management in Schools, issued by the Department of Education in October 2012 in England does not apply in Wales,” he said.

“As a result, there is a real danger of Welsh schools falling into a ‘devolutionary crack’ between the areas of health and safety and education.

“I would entirely agree with the international expert Professor Julian Peto who said in his evidence before the Education Select Committee at Westminster: ‘All that matters is whether or not kids are breathing in asbestos and, until you find that out, everything else is hot air.’”

Under the Right To Know proposals, parents would be able to access the database online, and check whether asbestos is present in any school, and whether an up-to-date management plan is in place where it is present.

The Senedd event sponsor – Tory Monmouth AM Nick Ramsay, who chairs the cross-party group on asbestos – said: “The Right to Know: Asbestos in Schools Wales campaign is calling for a database that would result in increased transparency, empowering parents and teachers to hold their local authority to account regarding their children and their safety while in the classroom.”

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said the management of asbestos was a non-devolved matter, with the responsibility for its management lying with the Health and Safety Executive, applying across Wales and England.

She said: “As the guidance issued by the Department for Education is based on this legislation, it can apply equally to schools in Wales.

“We are, however, currently in discussion with the Department for Education and are developing our own guidance on the management of asbestos in schools.

“Local authorities or schools governing bodies in Wales have a legal responsibility to have up-to date records on the location and condition of asbestos containing material and that appropriate management plans are in place to detail how the risks from these materials will be managed.

“Members of the public may approach local authorities or governing bodies to access this information.”

Taken from – 

Asbestos concerns expose flaws in monitoring hazardous material in our schools, claim campaigners

Speak Your Mind

*