Lawyers Disappointed By Government’s Asbestos Management In Schools Review

Action On Issue ‘Does Not Go Far Enough’ To Protect Teachers, Support Staff And Pupils


Specialist lawyers representing thousands of victims and families affected by asbestos-related disease have revealed their disappointment that the Government’s review of asbestos management in schools has not led to stronger action to protect teachers, support staff and pupils from the risk of exposure.

Published by the Department for Education, the policy review has outlined how the Government has committed to developing better and more targeted guidance on asbestos management in schools, as well as greater scrutiny on those responsible for the issue.

There has also been a commitment to improving the base of evidence, funding the removal of asbestos where appropriate and encouraging more academies to join the Risk Protection Arrangement – a scheme to reimburse academy trusts in relation to losses incurred as a result of asbestos issues.

Irwin Mitchell’s specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers have campaigned for years alongside victims of mesothelioma, and other diseases, for the introduction of new measures to protect those working and visiting schools and other public buildings from the risks of asbestos exposure.

Reacting to today’s news, Adrian Budgen, national head of asbestos litigation at Irwin Mitchell, said the review’s release was welcome – but ultimately it does not go far enough in terms of providing greater protection on the issue.

Expert Opinion
It has taken a long time for this review to be published and although it is a welcome step forward, it is disappointing that the plans do not go further in terms of tackling the issue of asbestos in schools once and for all.

"The Government continues to place an emphasis on management of the material rather than removal, but recent cases have suggested this may not be enough to ensure teachers, pupils and all support staff are kept completely safe from exposure to dangerous asbestos dust.

"As MPs agreed a full programme for the removal of asbestos from the Palace of Westminster in recent years, they know the risks. Surely if such action is considered for Parliament, it should also be considered for all other public buildings – starting with schools.

"We have repeatedly called for a full risk register documenting in its entirety the presence of asbestos in public buildings including schools, as well as regular inspections to keep on top of this issue. We also believe all of those who work and attend sites where asbestos is present should also be informed of its presence. Sadly it appears that no commitment has been made on either of these issues.

"Our asbestos team is being contacted more and more by those who have come into contact with asbestos in schools and estimates suggest that this figure is likely to continue to rise in the coming years."
Adrian Budgen, Partner

If you or a loved one has been suffered due to an asbestos related illness, our specialist asbestos claims team can help you to claim compensation. See our Asbestos-Related Disease Claims Guide for more information.