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Asbestos in Schools

HSE Notice served on
Glasgow City Council

The text of the Notice is at this link

Glasgow City Council fails to protect primary school children from asbestos.

HSE have just released notification of enforcement action taken against Glasgow City Council for infringing the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Asbestos Regulations by failing to manage the risks from asbestos in their buildings. In particular the improvement notice highlighted primary schools.

All local authorities and schools were advised some twenty five years ago to identify their asbestos by extent, type and condition, implement a system of asbestos management and monitor the state of the asbestos and the effectiveness of the plan. This was put into law in 2004.

The problem is compounded by the appalling state of a large number of the city’s schools. In 2008 out of 170 primary schools 68 were in either a poor or bad condition. If the condition of the fabric of a building is poor then it is inevitable that the asbestos it contains will be also.

In response to a Scottish Parliament petition in 2009 concerning the management of asbestos in schools Glasgow City Council stated: "It is generally safer, especially when it is undamaged, to manage asbestos in situ, since there can often be a greater hazard created in removing the material. Glasgow City Council’s policy is to manage asbestos, which is in safe condition, in situ.”

It is only safer to leave the asbestos in situ if there is an effective system of asbestos management, however the council have failed to implement the most basic system of asbestos management.

It is disgraceful that Glasgow City Council have failed in their duty of care. Without doubt the failure of the council to comply with the law has put at risk many hundreds, if not thousands, of the most vulnerable children.

Michael Lees,
14th May 2010