Unions Call For Asbestos To Be Removed From Schools And Colleges
The TUC has called for all asbestos to be removed from educational establishments throughout the country by 2015 as it expressed grave and continuing concern over what it described as the "silent killer that remains in our schools and colleges".
The TUC Conference in Liverpool heard how asbestos is the biggest and fastest-rising cause of workplace deaths, despite some forms of the mineral being banned for use in the construction industry for more than 20 years.
It is possible that repeated low-level exposures may lead to asbestos-related diseases, such as lung cancer, although high exposure for long periods is linked more clearly to these illnesses.
The TUC said children who are particularly vulnerable, as well as teachers and support staff, are being sentenced to an early death and this will continue into the indefinite future unless much tougher action is taken.
The TUC has called for a comprehensive audit of the extent, type and condition of asbestos in educational establishments and for the Asbestos in Schools campaign to be reinstated.
It said it is also important that training for those involved in asbestos management in schools, including headteachers, other staff and governors, with responsibility for health and safety, is carried out.
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Adrian Budgen, an expert in asbestos-related diseases from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: “The Government really has to act now, after repeated calls from the teaching unions and asbestos victim support groups.
“The ‘head in the sand’ approach, hoping the whole problem will go away, will not do. We know children are particularly vulnerable, if exposed. This is all about prevention so that the asbestos tragedy does not envelope yet another generation.
“At the very least, a comprehensive audit should be carried out in order to understand the scale of the problem.”