New Midlands Figures Put Spotlight On Asbestos In Schools

Call For Action As More Than 344,000 Pupils Attend Sites Where Material Is Present

10.08.2015

Specialist asbestos lawyers have reiterated their calls for action to address the presence of the material in schools up and down the country, after fresh concerns were raised about the substance being in schools across the West Midlands.

The Express and Star has revealed how new figures from campaign group Asbestos in Schools suggest that 344,886 pupils across Wolverhampton, Dudley, Staffordshire and Worcestershire attend schools which contain the material.

The research also found that more than 42,000 pupils in Walsall attend schools where asbestos is present, compared to 46,880 in Sandwell.

Talking to the newspaper, Asbestos in Schools campaign leader Michael Lees, whose wife died of mesothelioma after being exposed to the material during work at a nursery, said the figures highlighted how “long-term policies” were needed to “eradicate” the material from schools.

Reacting to the reports, specialist asbestos lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have said the research is another vital reminder that action is needed on the issue.

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Expert Opinion
“Concerns regarding the presence of asbestos in schools are not going away and these figures highlight the number of people who could be affected if the material was incorrectly managed or disturbed.

“MPs in recent months agreed a full programme for the removal of asbestos from the Palace of Westminster in recent years, so they know the risks. However, we are yet to see a clear plan of action formed on tackling the issue in schools.

“We have repeatedly demanded a full risk register is introduced to document the presence of asbestos in public buildings including schools, with it being maintained through a programme of regular inspections.

“Transparency and clarity are also key and with this in mind, we feel all of those who work and attend sites where asbestos is present should also be informed of its presence.

“Asbestos exposure is so often linked to industrial environments, but we are seeing more and more cases where people have been exposed in buildings such as schools. This is an issue which requires urgent attention and it is vital that the Government takes steps on the matter.”
Satinder Bains, Partner