Still more to learn for asbestos management in schools

Greg Davies

Greg Davies
Director of Market Development, Assurity Consulting
2nd September 2019

Referencing the Asbestos Management Assurance Process Portal (AMAP) – an online portal for Responsible Bodies to provide a written (electronic) assurance that their schools are compliant with legislation on the management of asbestos in their education estate – the article highlights:

The Department for Education has revealed that asbestos management practice is not “in line with” its own guidance at 17.8% of the schools in England that took part in the Asbestos Management Assurance Process (AMAP).

This represents 3,485 potentially failing schools, according to the DfE’s Asbestos Management Assurance Project (AMAP) report, which details the results so far of its ongoing AMAP survey.

In addition, a smaller number of schools appear to be in breach of the Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR) 2012. While the report does not quote exactly how many schools could be in breach, the DfE gave the figure of 676 after a recent Freedom of Information request by campaigners.”

While these figures look relatively small in terms of the overall numbers of schools we have, and The Department for Education (DfE) plans to work with these schools “in order to implement its 2017 guidance, Managing asbestos in your school” it is not a cause for complacency. In its response to the report the National Education Union identifies:

  • “Only 14,840 schools had their response ‘assured’ by their Responsible Body.
  • 2,500 schools did not participate (11.6 per cent of total) despite several reminders and despite there being an expectation that all should participate. This means that there are 2,500 schools where the Government has no idea how well, or badly, asbestos is being managed.
  • Nearly 700 schools were referred to the HSE as causing concern meaning that thousands of children and staff could be at risk from poor asbestos management. 
  • 251 of the schools which responded did not know if asbestos was present.  It is shocking that any school should be in that position.
  • 37 per cent of schools that responded had an asbestos survey that was more than 5 years old.
  • No question was asked about whether information about location of asbestos was shared with staff or with parents.  This is absolutely essential, and failure to share information with staff and parents is one of NEU’s key concerns.
  • Participation in the AMAP, although encouraged, was not compulsory.  Future surveys should be made compulsory.
  • Schools need funding, as well as expert support, to be able to address this issue…”

When managing any type of property and compliance, knowing what success looks like is the key, as without it you don’t know how effective what you’re doing is. Asking questions and getting that expert support are two good means of identifying where you really are with your management, asbestos or other.