School Safety: Asbestos in Schools

In previous news articles, we have discussed the dangers of asbestos inhalation and why it is vital to use safety enclosures when examining possible contaminated materials. Continual exposure to dangerous asbestos dust can cause inflammation in the respiratory tract, this can cause scarring which develops into conditions such as emphysema. Asbestos was used in building construction from the 1930s to the 1950s, with use officially banned in 1977. Due to the widespread use of asbestos, many fear that a number of schools around the UK are at risk from asbestos materials. This has led to a teachers union calling for an assessment of the safety of the UK’s schools and an investigation into dangerous asbestos exposure.

This article will discuss the current measures being taken to ensure teachers and pupils are safe from asbestos.

The National Education Union has reported that 200 teachers have died from mesothelioma since 2001 –  a form of cancer largely associated with asbestos exposure. A study by the Committee on Carcinogenicity found that children exposed to asbestos are five times more likely to develop mesothelioma than adults over 30, clearly showing the importance of removing the harmful material from schools. A survey found that over half of current schools in the North West were known to contain asbestos materials and 44% of school did not know if the building contained asbestos or not. In addition to this, a survey of teachers found that 46% had been told their school contained asbestos but half of these did not know where it was located in their building.

In an effort to reduce concerns surrounding asbestos in schools, the Health and Safety Executive has released a large amount of information and advice for schools. As caretakers are most likely to be exposed to asbestos-containing materials, it is advised that they report any disturbance to appropriate authorities for safe removal to be arranged. They also reassure parents that they should not be worried if their child’s school contains asbestos, they set strict guidelines on managing asbestos materials safely. The Health & Safety Executive enlists the help of Health & Safety Laboratory to test samples from at-risk schools, during these tests it is crucial that safety equipment in used at all times. Waysafe® Safety cabinets contain HEPA filter and fans which monitor airflow and prevent dangerous particles from entering the respiratory tract of laboratory workers.

To combat this growing concern surrounding asbestos within school, the government has invested £5.6 billion into school renovations which includes safe asbestos removal. Asbestos-containing materials are only dangerous if disturbed, so teachers and pupils are at no immediate danger. However, with pressures building from groups like the National Education Union, further government may be needed to completely remove asbestos from schools.

Boasting a large range of safety enclosures through their Waysafe® range, Solotec Scientific has been designing and manufacturing high-quality laboratory equipment since 1991. All Waysafe products are made-to-order from Solotec Scientific’s facilities in Greater Manchester by a team of skilled and experienced engineers. A dedication to innovation and quality has resulted in Waysafe® becoming an international leader in the safety enclosure industry.

With a range of features and capabilities, the Waysafe® range has been used in a variety of settings including hospitals, universities and research and testing laboratories. In addition to custom safety enclosures, the Waysafe® website offers a range of stock including motors, replacement filters and replacement parts for a range of safety enclosure models.

The team at Waysafe are happy to discuss your individual safety enclosure requirements and are committed to providing the best in bench top safety enclosures.

If you would like to find out more about Waysafe’s® range of safety enclosures, speak to a member of the Waysafe team on 0161 339 6187.