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ASBESTOS IN SCHOOLS The use of asbestos for lagging boilers and pipework in building was common practice before 1974. The practice has now been discontinued and asbestos free materials are now used. There are, of course, many schools with asbestos used as an insulant in boiler houses and fume cupboards, as indeed in other situations. Asbestlux ceiling panels, asbestos cement products for fire protection and sprayed asbestos on certain ceilings for insulation. The Health and Safety Executive issued advice on health hazards from asbestos containing materials. Danger from asbestos incorporated in a building is only likely to arise where material becomes worn or damaged and is exposed to air. Good maintenance is therefore a key factor in preventing a damage and exposure as well as other controls: Materials in good condition Monitor the condition at regular intervals; Label the material where it is practical to do so; Inform the contractor and any other worker likely to work on or disturb the material Material has minor damage The material should be repaired and/or encapsulated; Monitor the condition at regular intervals; Label the material where it is practical to do so; Inform the contractor and any other worker likely to work on or disturb the material. Poor condition or where it is likely to be disturbed The material should be removed by a competent, approved company. Where it is considered, by risk assessment, that asbestos containing materials should be removed, eg. If any lagging in boiler houses or any pipework should become damaged, or you are concerned regarding asbestos problems, then these should be reported to the Director of Children’s Services, Asset Management, who will arrange immediate action. Only licensed Asbestos Removal Contractors can do this. In the first instance you should contact Asset Management to arrange this. In an emergency, please contact Security and Response. The Authority is undertaking surveys of all its properties to identify where asbestos has historically been used. This information has/will be provided to you within your Buildings Operation Manual from CPS. If you are unsure whether any material contains asbestos or not, you must assume that it does, unless there is strong evidence to suggest that it does not. Further advice can be obtained from the Asset Management, or OSAHSS. Asbestos Insulation Boards in Fume Cupboards I enclose a recent excerpt from a Croner’s School Safety Update regarding a local authority that was fined for exposing people to asbestos following the refurbishment of a science laboratory. The exposure followed the removal of old fume cupboards that contained amosite asbestos. I am sure that many schools within Bolton have old fume cupboards containing similar asbestos insulation board. The school and the local authority have a responsibility to ensure that: Asbestos containing materials are identified and an assumption is made that asbestos is present, unless there is strong evidence that it is not; The condition of these materials is checked; If any maintenance or refurbishment is planned, or if the material is in poor condition, it may be necessary to arrange for the material to be sampled and identified by a specialist; The location and the condition of the material is recorded; An assessment is made as to whether the condition or the location means that the material is likely to be disturbed; There is a plan to manage any risks – based on a suitable and sufficient risk assessment; Any training need is identified and provided. The following guidelines (issued by the Health and Safety Executive) should be followed as a general rule: Material in good condition Monitor the condition at regular intervals; Label the material where it is practical to do so; Inform the contractor and any other worker likely to work on or disturb the material. Material has minor damage The material should be repaired and/or encapsulated; Monitor the condition at regular intervals; Label the material where it is practical to do so; Inform the contractor and any other worker likely to work on or disturb the material. Poor condition or where it is likely to be disturbed The material should be removed by a competent, approved company. Although there is a duty to undertake these simple steps now, they will be made even more explicit in the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002. I would welcome the opportunity to provide schools with any additional help or information. Chris Ashton, Head of Occupational Safety and Health Specialist Service. Ref: NE062/04 3 February 2004 SAFE MANAGEMENT OF ASBESTOS The Health and Safety Executive has issued advice about the management of asbestos in buildings following publicity resulting from an article in the British Medical Journal warning of the growing number of deaths from mesothelioma in future years as a result of past exposure to asbestos. Bill Macdonald, Head of asbestos policy at HSE, said "The expected rise in deaths from asbestos-related disease clearly represents a tragedy for the many victims and their families. Sadly, we are powerless to prevent these deaths, caused by exposure many years ago, but it is possible to minimise the risk of future exposure. “Duty holders should take action now – to actively manage the risk, particularly from asbestos in buildings, ahead of May this year when it will become their legal duty to do so." Recognition of the risks of asbestos has in the last 20 years led the Government, on the advice of the Health and Safety Commission, to ban the import of asbestos and place stringent controls on most work activities involving asbestos. The new regulations are a further major step and will place a duty on those responsible for workplaces and common areas of residential properties to manage any asbestos in those premises to protect people carrying-out maintenance. The new duty, part of the Control of Asbestos At Work Regulations 2002 (CAWR), will require those with responsibilities for the repair and maintenance of non-domestic premises to find out if there are, or may be, asbestos- containing materials within them. It also requires them to record the location and condition of such materials, and then assess and manage any risk from them, including passing on information about their location and condition to anyone liable to disturb them. The duty to manage means only working on materials once they have been checked for any asbestos. If asbestos is in good condition, it should not be removed, providing that steps are taken to warn anyone likely to disturb it. If the asbestos is in bad condition, it should be safely removed by companies licensed to do so. more…. There could be as many as 500,000 non-domestic premises in the UK that contain asbestos materials. Assessing the risks from those materials and putting in place systems to manage that risk will therefore take time, so there has been an eighteen-month lead in period for the duty. Notes to editors: 1) There is no medical intervention for those already exposed. But much can be done to prevent exposures today and prevent painful and prolonged illness and death in the future. 2) To raise awareness of the duty to manage, and to promote effective compliance, HSE has published the following guidance material: A new Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) has been produced to support regulation 4 of CAWR. ‘The management of asbestos in non-domestic premises’ (L127) gives advice on how to comply with the new legal requirements and explains the duties of building owners, tenants and anyone else with legal responsibilities for non-domestic premises. It highlights the flexibility of the new regulations to cover a range of situations and to allow a proportionate approach to be taken to managing the risks from asbestos. For example, it stresses that asbestos in good condition, which is unlikely to be disturbed, should be left in place and managed. The free leaflet ‘Managing asbestos in premises’ (INDG223) has been updated and re-titled ‘A short guide to managing asbestos in premises’. Aimed at those with smaller, less complex premises, it provides background information on why asbestos can be a risk to health, and where it is found, and gives basic, practical advice on managing the risks from asbestos in premises. The new guidance booklet ‘A comprehensive guide to managing asbestos’ (HSG227) is aimed at those duty holders in more complex organisations and expands on the guidance given in the free leaflet. The guidance helps duty holders decide what immediate steps they need to take to manage asbestos on their premises as well as giving advice on developing a management strategy to ensure full compliance with the new duty. The guidance is illustrated by the use of case studies and worked examples. The guidance will ensure that every duty holder can access information about what the new duty to manage will mean to them – and what they must do to comply. This advance notice will give them sufficient time to do so. All those affected are urged to make sure they fulfil their legal and moral responsibilities. 3) The new regulations will provide a new level of protection for those working in the building-related trades and others at risk from asbestos in buildings and will contribute to the saving of almost 5,000 lives through eliminating risks from asbestos in the non-domestic sector. Copies of The management of asbestos in non-domestic premises Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002 L127, ISBN 0-7176-2382-3, price £9.50; A short guide to managing asbestos in premises, INDG223, free of charge; A comprehensive guide to managing asbestos in premises HSG227, ISBN 0-7176- 2381-5, price £12.50; Work with asbestos insulation, asbestos coating and asbestos insulating board (fourth edition) L28, ISBN 0-7176-2563-X, price £9.50; Work with asbestos which does not normally require a licence (fourth edition) L27, ISBN 0- 7176-2562-1, price £9.50; are available from HSE Books, PO Box 1999, Sudbury, Suffolk, CO10 2WA, Tel: 01787-881165 or fax: 01787-313995. Priced publications are also available from good booksellers.
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