A short-term Government approach to asbestos management in schools could lead to long term health problems for pupils and teachers, personal injury lawyers have warned.
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) says that health issues related to asbestos are not going to disappear if the substance is ignored.
Speaking in response to the Department for Education’s policy review on asbestos management in schools, APIL is calling for a strategic plan for asbestos removal.
The association also wants the Government to reintroduce proactive inspections and clarity about who is responsible for the substance risk in academies, free schools, private schools and nurseries.
APIL president Matthew Stockwell said: “Children and those working in schools cannot be protected if the school is unaware of the location of the asbestos.
“It is extremely important to locate the asbestos so the risks of exposure can be assessed regularly and managed, so a systematic plan for removal can be developed.”
Asbestos is present in 75 per cent of schools in England and 85 per cent of schools in Wales and APIL say there is no plan in place to deal with this, except to ignore the toxic substance and not disturb it.
“All the asbestos in place is ageing and many school buildings are deteriorating,” added Matthew.
“With proactive Health and Safety Executive inspections cancelled since 2011, and school governors who may have no experience in this area now responsible for asbestos management, this could be a recipe for disaster.”