Government reminds schools about duty to manage asbestos

Yesterday the Government issued a reminder to schools and colleges about the actions they must take when maintenance or construction work is carried out on the premises that could potentially disturb asbestos.

There are specific actions that must be taken where work is carried out on the premises, which might disturb asbestos materials, including upgrading, refurbishment or demolition. This includes any work that disturbs the fabric of a building, whether it is small-scale repair work carried out by own maintenance staff or a large-scale project that is being contracted out.

When commissioning construction work, the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) requires the school/college to determine whether there is a risk that the work might disturb any asbestos materials, including any unidentified, presumed or hidden asbestos materials.

Where this work will disturb the fabric of the building, the school/college need to arrange for a relevant refurbishment or demolition survey to be carried out. This is a more intrusive type of survey which involves destructive inspection by a trained specialist to identify all asbestos materials.

The school/college must pass on the findings of both types of survey and details of any known or presumed asbestos materials in the work area to those who will be doing the work. They should also make sure that they use the correct risk control measures. This could be done by implementing a ‘permit to work’ system.

Typically, all work on asbestos should be done by a contractor licensed by HSE, and those undertaking the work should confirm that the information provided is sufficient.

Once work is appropriately authorised, contractors should be prepared for the unexpected presence of asbestos materials. If further asbestos materials or suspect materials are uncovered, the work should stop, the area made safe and the work reassessed before continuing.

The school/college should check that those undertaking the work have undertaken appropriate post work checks to ensure that the area is safe for re-occupation. If licensed asbestos works have been undertaken, this should include clearance and air test certificates.

It is essential that following any work to asbestos-containing materials, that the asbestos register and management plan are updated accordingly by the school/college.

In this piece the Government referenced a case study:

The unsafe removal of asbestos insulation boards at a large school led to several people being exposed to asbestos fibres. The school was fined £60,000 and ordered to pay £13,000 in costs. The director of the company was fined £10,000 with costs of £6,000.

The full post can be found here.