Why is the Asbestos Time Bomb Still in Our Schools

NUT Conference 2017

18 April 2017

Commenting after the debate on Motion 26Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:

“The continuing presence of asbestos in nearly 90% of our schools is a scandal and is risking the lives of children and staff. In 2014 there were 17 teacher deaths from mesothelioma.  Children are even more at risk because of the long latency of asbestos diseases such as mesothelioma.

“The Government and the Health and Safety Executive do not acknowledge that there is a serious problem with asbestos in schools and as a consequence there is no political will to remove it. 

“The findings of a survey of NUT members provide no comfort for the Government and HSE’s view that the current policy of managing asbestos in situ is working.

“An NUT survey on asbestos in schools shows that nearly 50% of respondents did not know whether their school contained asbestos and only 2% of respondents said that parents had been given information about the presence of asbestos in the school. 

“This is deeply worrying given that the majority of schools (86%) do contain asbestos. Parents, children and teachers should not be kept in the dark about this issue that has serious and life threatening consequences to those exposed to it.

“The NUT will continue to work with its partner unions through the Joint Union Asbestos Committee. We are calling for Government to undertake a national audit of the extent, type and condition of asbestos in our schools and to begin a long-term phased removal of asbestos from our schools, with schools in the worst condition prioritised.  This ticking time bomb has to be eradicated from our schools.”

Editor’s Note:

NUT survey, April 2017: 
https://www.teachers.org.uk/news-events/conference-2017/nut-asbestos-survey

NUT Edufacts, Asbestos: 
https://www.teachers.org.uk/edufacts/asbestos

The NUT’s Annual Conference is taking place this Easter weekend in Cardiff. For the Final Agenda, please visit https://www.teachers.org.uk/sites/default/files2014/nut-final-agenda-2017-13068.pdf

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