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Improved asbestos management highlighted by latest report

The results of the Health and Safety Executive’s asbestos in schools inspection initiative for 2013/14 have been published.

This included a selection of 153 non-local authority schools, which were inspected between April last year and January 2014, including independent, voluntary aided and foundation schools, free schools and academies.

Written advice from HSE was sent to 44 of those surveyed, with a further 20 (13%) issued with improvement notices to upgrade management of asbestos practices.

The HSE emphasised that it did not consider staff or pupils to be at significant risk of exposure, but stated staff training and written management plans are vital elements of the required control measures.

It also reported that compliance with the Control of Asbestos Regulations in England, Scotland and Wales showed an overall improvement compared with the results of a similar survey and inspection programme of 164 schools outside local authority control in 2010/11, where 41 improvement notices were served on 28 schools.

The majority of the schools in the HSE’s most recent survey were found to require no further action, or were provided with simple advice.

HSE head of public services sector Geoff Cox, said: “Over the last few years there has been a lot of work by stakeholders across the school sector to raise awareness of the duty to manage asbestos. It is really encouraging to see that awareness of the requirements has increased since our previous inspection initiative.

“That said, schools should not be under any illusion – managing asbestos requires ongoing attention. Schools now have access to a wealth of guidance setting out clear and straightforward steps to achieve and maintain compliance.

“Where duty holders fall below acceptable standards, HSE has taken, and will continue to take, enforcement action”