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Asbestos in Schools - News

Merton Council accepts liability for death of teacher who was exposed to asbestos in Mitcham's St Thomas of Canterbury Middle School

Pippa Allen-Kinross, Wimbledon Guardian, 02/02/2017

Merton Council has accepted liability for the death of a teacher who was exposed to asbestos at a school in Mitcham.

Her widower is now urging her former pupils to check whether they will also need treatment.

Kathleen Bennett, who lived in The Green, Morden, with her husband John, taught at the St Thomas of Canterbury Middle School in Commonside East during the 1970s and 80s.

In 1985, a heating engineer alerted the school keeper to asbestos in the roof above the school hall and staff room. Removal work was scheduled for the summer of 1986, but it is not clear whether it took place.

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JUAC Asbestos Committee Conference 2017

31/01/2017

This conference, organised by the Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC), is the first to take place about asbestos, the hidden killer in our schools. To learn more, join our expert speakers including Rachel Reeves MP, asbestos campaigners, trade unions, medical practitioners, the Health and Safety Executive and the Department for Education.


For more information on the conference click here

Revealed: The hundreds of North Wales schools which contain potentially deadly asbestos

Steve Bagnall, Daily Post, 30/01/2017

Hundreds of schools across North Wales contain potentially deadly asbestos, prompting calls for immediate action to tackle the problem.

In total, 367 primary, secondary and special needs schools spread across the six counties have the toxic substance, according to a Freedom of Information request.

Gwynedd has 111 schools containing asbestos, Flintshire 70, Denbighshire 53, Conwy 51, Wrexham 44 and Anglesey 38.

The Right to Know Asbestos in Schools Wales campaign has called on the Welsh Government to lead a strategy to clear it out of schools.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) also wants action taken to get rid of asbestos from schools, amid fears pupils and staff’s health could be at risk.

click here to read the full article

Seen but not heard

Belinda Liversedge, British Safety Council, 31/07/2016

The message of the dangers of ageing asbestos in schools is still not getting through to those in positions of responsibility for managing it, meaning that mesothelioma is still killing teachers and risking childrens’ lives, reports Belinda Liversedge.

click here to read the full article

End the deadly asbestos gamble – Protect children and staff by removing asbestos from our schools

NUT, 01/07/2016

On Sunday 26 June yet another teacher tragically died of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. Sue Stephens was a primary school teacher in Buckinghamshire for almost 30 years. Her daughter, Lucie Stephens, is calling for the removal of asbestos from schools to be her legacy.

On Action Mesothelioma Day 2016 (today), the Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) is calling upon the Government to prioritise the removal of asbestos from all schools and colleges.

The continuing presence of asbestos in our schools is a scandal, especially as all of it is now old, and much of it deteriorating.

Around 86 per cent of schools contain asbestos and deaths from mesothelioma are increasing. In 2013, 17 teachers died of mesothelioma. The total number of support staff deaths is not known.

Of even greater concern, particularly to parents, is that children are at risk of developing mesothelioma in later life, because of exposure to asbestos at school. It is estimated that 200 - 300 former pupils are dying each year as adults because of exposure at school.

Commenting on the situation and the death of Sue Stephens, John McClean, Chair of JUAC and Secretariat of the Asbestos in Schools group said:

'Tragically there has been yet another death resulting from asbestos exposure in schools. The continuing presence of asbestos in so many of our schools is a disgrace. Effective Government action to tackle this scourge is long overdue and our children and school staff deserve better.'

Kevin Courtney, NUT Acting General Secretary, said:

'Yet another teacher's life has been tragically cut short by this dreadful, and entirely preventable, disease. Nothing can be done to put right past asbestos exposure, but we must do more to protect future generations of school children and staff. The Government must now set out a long term strategy for the phased removal of asbestos from all schools.'

Dr Mary Bousted, General Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said:

'It's scandalous that every year teachers and support staff are dying from asbestos related illnesses because they have been exposed to asbestos in school. The government must listen and start a phased removal of all asbestos in schools so that no more children or teachers are exposed to asbestos and risk dying from this entirely preventable disease.'

JUAC is seeking to ensure the widest possible publicity for Lucie's petition, which calls for the phased removal of all asbestos from schools by 2028.

https://www.teachers.org.uk/news-events/press-releases-england/end-deadly-asbestos-gamble

​Asbestos management in Brent Schools: local and national implications

Brent Joint Unions Report, 21/04/2016

Asbestos management in Brent Schools: local and national implications

How can we protect our children from this silent killer?

A Brent Joint Unions Report: The Short Report

 

Cenric Clement-Evans on behalf the Right to Know Asbestos in Schools Campaign commented, “ The issues highlighted in respect of Brent Schools are the same issues affecting schools and colleges across the UK. All Governments need to engage and take a lead on asbestos in schools whether in Westminster or Cardiff Bay.  The overwhelming majority of our children will attend schools containing asbestos. Whilst we cannot change the past, we can change the future.  It is the duty of Government to develop a strategic plan (for the short, medium and long term) to deal with asbestos in our schools and make them safer for all those attending and working there. Failure to act now is inexcusable.

Right to Know supports the recommendations of the Brent Joint Unions

 

“BRENT JOINT UNION RECOMMENDATIONS TO GOVERNMENT AND HSE

A. The government should support the APPG and TUC recommended phased removal of all asbestos from all schools. There should be an audit of all asbestos to ensure that the most dangerous asbestos is removed first and the necessary funding provided, if needed. See full report pages 68-69; 76.

B. There should be open consultation and debate about how the necessary funds can be obtained or prioritized for asbestos removal and safe management. See page 73.

C. The asbestos audit should be based on:

a. UKAS accredited surveys that provide Material Assessments or a default worst case scenario value for all asbestos (accessible, inaccessible, hidden and presumed).

b. Risk Assessments, Reassurance and Clearance tests and Environmental levels which take into account the increased vulnerability of children and the type of asbestos. See full report pages 55-56; 63-66.

D. Mandatory training, monitoring and inspections should be imposed to ensure that unsafe asbestos is being identified and managed so it does not place pupils at risk. See pages 57-58.

E. Asbestos management should be transparent and demonstrate accountability so:

a. Duty Holders should be required to inform parents about the location and management of asbestos and keep records of any children exposed to asbestos. See full report p 60-63.

b. Duty Holders should be required to ensure that all documents relating to asbestos management such as asbestos registers, surveys, asbestos management plans and asbestos exposure records for staff and pupils are kept for at least 60 years. These documents should be accessible to all parents, former pupils and staff.”

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Asbestos Awareness & Support Cymru - Spring Newsletter 2016

Asbestos Awareness & Support Cymru, 18/04/2016

Read the lastest news and updates from Wales chartiy supporting people affected by asbestos related diseases, including the launch of their new support group in Cardiff.

Meetings usually take place on the last Monday of each month (except public holidays)and will be held at Whitchurch Rugby & Social Club between 2pm and 4pm.

Click her to read the newsletter

Asbestos-hit Sutton Coldfield School to benefit from £1 million future proofing

Sutton Coldfield Observer, 23/02/2016

A POPULAR Sutton Coldfield primary school is set to reopen after the discovery of asbestos delayed a one million pound revamp.

The project is part of Hill West Primary School's strategy to invest in a modern key stage two building at its Four Oaks site to ensure the school continues to deliver high quality education.

School leaders took the proactive decision to construct a new building at the academy after the weather borne deterioration of the 1960s building made it an obvious choice.

Initial building works, which began last year, were extended to include the removal of asbestos. As phase two of the new build progresses, leaders are looking forward to opening the doors to the new classrooms.

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"Lifesaving" action being taken on asbestos

Ian Craig, Free Press, 19/02/2016

The Right to Know Asbestos in Schools campaign welcomes the news that the Welsh Assembly Government's minister for communities and tackling poverty, Lesley Griffiths, has written to all local authorities and registered landlords in Wales to ensure that all contractors are full informed about any asbestos in a property before they start any maintenance on that property.

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Asbestos Awareness & Support Cymru - Winter Newsletter

Asbestos Awareness & Support Cymru, 26/01/2016

Sharing Best Wishes for the New Year!  AASC looks forward to a new year which will provide and opportunity to continue to raise awareness, provide support to victims of asbestos exposure and develop our service in Wales. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped and supported us in the previous year and send very best wishes to all for 2016!

Click her to read the newsletter

Teacher died from cancer after decades of exposure to asbestos

Matthew Weaver, The Guardian, 22/01/2016

A primary school teacher who contracted cancer after decades of exposure to asbestos used as pinboards for her pupil’s art work died as a result of an industrial disease, a coroner has ruled.

Elizabeth Belt died aged 68 in September after a three-year battle with mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer linked to asbestos dust. In a detailed statement given before her death, Belt recalled her years spent in schools exposed to asbestos before it was banned in the 1980s.


The statement, submitted to the inquest into her death, said she regularly pinned children’s drawings and written work to asbestos boards in classrooms at various schools in north Lincolnshire.

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Hundred of Hoo Academy asbestos risk leads to £35,000 fine

Chris Hunter, Kent Online, 09/01/2016

An academy trust has been fined £35,000 for failing to manage asbestos and ensure the safety of builders working at a Medway school.

Representatives from the Williamson Trust pleaded guilty at Medway Magistrates Court - where it was heard asbestos had been uncovered during work at the Hundred of Hoo Academy, one of the trust’s schools, in 2012.

Facing the same charge was Mark Tucker, 51, director of MT & Sons Ltd, the firm contracted to carry out the work, who also pleaded guilty and was fined £17,000.

click here to read the full article

Asbestos database warning which north Wales schools contain substance Would be 'too bureaucratic' says Education Minister.

Rachel Flint, Daily Post, 26/11/2015

Education Minister Huw Lewis says database informing parents which schools contain the hazardous substance would not help public safety.

Telling parents which North Wales schools contain potentially deadly asbestos would be “too bureaucratic” because of the substance’s prevalence, according to Education Minister, Huw Lewis.

More than 400 people signed a petition calling on the Welsh Government to create a national public database in a bid to stop asbestos fibres being disturbed in classrooms.

Now almost two years later Mr Lewis has dismissed calls for a database, insisting it would not add to public safety.

He said creating a database would be a “tremendous bureaucratic burden to local authorities”.

 

click here to read the full article

Who is responsible for asbestos in schools in Wales?

Cenric Clement-Evans, 23/11/2015

This is the question that the Minister for Education and Skills will be asked by the Petitions Committee when he gives evidence before them on Tuesday the 24th November.

The Minister Huw Lewis AM is to give evidence in response to the petition of the Right to Know: Asbestos in Schools Wales campaign, dating from December 2013. The petitioner is asking the Welsh Government  to put measures in place to ensure that parents and guardians of children across Wales can easily access information about the presence and management of asbestos in all school buildings.

The Right to Know: Asbestos in Schools Wales campaign is calling upon the Welsh Government to form a Steering Group similar to the one advising the Department of Education at Westminster, in order to inform future policy on asbestos management in schools in Wales.

Campaign leader and lead petitioner, Cenric Clement-Evans, a senior solicitor at NewLaw who specialises in diseases caused by exposure to asbestos, maintains whilst neither the Welsh Government nor the UK Government take responsibility schools in Wales fall into the “devolution crack” highlighted by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff in the debate on the Mesothelioma Bill in the House of Lords on Friday 20th November.

Mr Clement-Evans explained: “The original petition highlighted the fact that no-one currently accepts overall responsibility for asbestos policy in Wales.

The Minister has stated recently that Welsh Government has ‘no direct responsibility’ for asbestos management and that he is content that the Steering Group in England will ‘provide sufficient information for Welsh Government to deal with the issue of asbestos at this time’.

“I find this remarkable in the face of a statement by the Chair of the Department for Education Asbestos in Schools Steering Group, that the Group ‘only covers the issue of asbestos management in schools in England.’ At present there is no representation on behalf of schools in Wales on the group which as the Steering Group Chair states ‘exist in a different policy framework’ to those in England.

“As an entirely devolved area, Wales needs its own education system to be involved in framing future policy for asbestos in schools here, with a steering group led by the Department for Education & Skills, and involving AMs, local authorities, health professionals, school governors, trade unions, the HSE and asbestos experts.

“If the Minister is correct that the Welsh Government is not responsible for the issue of asbestos in Schools in Wales, then it must as a minimum insist that UK Government takes responsibility, which it clearly is not doing.”

The campaign and petition have received support from the Wales TUC as well teaching unions the NASUWT, the NUT, the NAHT, the ATL, Voice and UCAC.

The Right to Know: Asbestos in Schools Wales campaign.

The campaign believes that, given the health risks associated with the presence of asbestos in public buildings, parents and guardians across Wales have the right:

  • to know if asbestos is located in their school
  • to know whether, where asbestos is present, it is being managed in line with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012
  • to access that information easily online

AASC Autumn Newsletter

AASC, 05/11/2015

Asbestos awareness cymru have issued their Autumn newsletter you can view the content from the link below.

click here to read the full article

Cenric Clement-Evans gives evidence to the Petitions Committee

Petitions Committee, 21/10/2015

Cenric Clement-Evans was invited to the Petitions Committee meeting, that took place at the Senedd yesterday for an evidence session to support the petition calling for a database of asbestos in schoolls submitted by the Right to Know Asbestos in Schools, Wales campaign.

Click here to view the evidence session starts at 58 minutes into the session at agenda item 4.


Petitions Committee 20thOctober 2015. 

Comment from, Michael Lees MBE

21st October 2015

For the last three years Cenric Clement-Evans has raised a number of serious issues concerned with the Welsh Government’s handling of asbestos in Welsh schools. He has firmly and persistently highlighted those issues with the Education Minister, the Department for Education and Skills and with the Petitions Committee. His ‘Right to know’ petition and the supporting written evidence was first considered by the committee in December 2013, and yesterday, 20th October 2015, he gave oral evidence in answer to the committee members’ questions. Mr Clement- Evans’ replies were well researched, logical and reasoned.

The crucial point raised by Mr Clement-Evans is that the Welsh Government will not accept that they are ultimately responsible for asbestos policy in Welsh schools, rather they claim that the responsibility has not been devolved and it is that of HSE. That line was again confirmed yesterday by the Labour member of the committee, despite the fact that Mr Clement-Evans has provided written evidence that the Schools Minister in the Westminster Government and the HSE Acting Chief Executive have stated that the responsibility is that of the Welsh Government.

Mr Clement-Evans has also proposed that the Welsh Government needs to establish an advisory committee to improve the asbestos management in Welsh schools on the lines of the DfE committee that considers the issues in English schools. However the Welsh Education Minister has indicated that he will not establish a separate committee but instead is content to accept the decisions of the Westminster committee.

Mr Clement –Evans spoke passionately that the whole concept of devolution was undermined when the Welsh Government were willing to accept the decisions of a DfE committee on which they had no representation and one which had no remit for the safety of staff and children in Welsh schools. In addition, he argued, that the whole issue of asbestos in Welsh school had dropped down the ‘devolution gap’ because the Welsh Government had abdicated their responsibilities for asbestos policy in Welsh schools to the HSE, a non-departmental public body in the Westminster Government whose remit is to advise and regulate but is not to make policy.

Mr Clement-Evans’ evidence was heartfelt, measured and compelling.  I have no doubt that it will make a significant difference and was a major step forward in making Welsh schools safe from the dangers of asbestos.

 


Click here to view the evidence session

Asbestos-hit school forced to close to keep pupils safe

The Sentinel, 21/10/2015

THE school at the centre of an asbestos scare is to close on safety grounds.

Pupils will not return to Sutherland Primary Academy, in Blurton, following the October half-term break.

It follows new safety advice which warns there is the 'potential of a major asbestos fall' from the ceilings.

Instead talks are being held to try to find an alternative site elsewhere in Stoke-on-Trent for the school.




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Stoke on Trent School shuts 9 rooms in asbestos scare

Kathie McInnes, The Sentinel, 19/10/2015

NINE rooms at one of the city's biggest primary schools have been closed off due to an asbestos scare.

Sutherland Primary Academy, in Blurton, is now bidding for emergency Government cash to remove the asbestos after it emerged the repair work could cost up to £2 million.

The problems came to a head this term when staff noticed cracks and bubbling on some walls.

The cordoned off areas include several classrooms, the main hall, store rooms, the boys' toilets and part of the kitchen.

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Asbestos - It's Time to Act

16/10/2015

Today, The All-Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health have called for an eradication law to ensure the safe, phased and planned removal of all the asbestos that still remains in place across Britain.

5,000 people in Britain are likely to die as a result of asbestos exposure in this year alone. The most common fatal diseases resulting from asbestos exposure are; lung cancer, mesothelioma (a cancer of the lining of the lung or the abdominal cavity) and asbestosis (a long-term lung condition). Whilst the figures from lung cancer are slowly decreasing, the deaths from mesothelioma and asbestosis continue to rise.  

It is likely that at least half a million commercial properties, and a million domestic properties, are home to some form of the asbestos-containing material.   Asbestos is also to be found in the majority of our schools. This is an urgent problem as there is no safe threshold of exposure when it comes to asbestos fibres. It is often people who are working in maintenance, refurbishment or demolition, but people can, and do, become exposed simply by working in a building with asbestos, as fibres can become dislodged and breathed in.

The generally accepted action for asbestos-containing products which are in good condition, and are unlikely to be disturbed, is to leave the material as it is. This has always been viewed as a temporary measure as the vast majority of asbestos is still in place and poses a major hazard to both workers and the wider public.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group have called for action to reform this outdated policy as it’s increasingly unlikely that the decades-old asbestos is going to be left undisturbed.

The Right to Know Asbestos in schools campaign supports the call for asbestos eradication in Wales and throughout the UK.

Former Reading school caretaker died before court battle over alleged asbestos exposure

Reading and Berkshire News, 25/09/2015

A school caretaker who was in the middle of High Court action against three employers who he blamed for exposing him to asbestos, died before he could get the case into court, an inquest heard.

David Hummerstone died of industrial disease caused by asbestos and had filed a statement with the High Court revealing that in all three jobs - the last of which was as caretaker at a primary school in Reading, he was working in areas containing the deadly fibres.

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Asbestos cleared from music school in St Albans

Debbie White, The Herts Advertiser, 18/09/2015

A notice was recently sent to parents of pupils attending St Albans Music School, which earlier this year had to relocate to Townsend School from its former base at Garden Fields JMI, to make way for the latter’s expansion.

Apologising for the delayed start to lessons, it said that the music school would not open until next Monday, September 21, as builders carrying out refurbishment work had discovered more asbestos than expected.

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Asbestos at Ysgol Llandrillo yn Rhos school in Rhos on Sea sparks safety fears

David Powell, Daily Post, 03/09/2015

Some residents concerned, others reassured by Conwy Council action.

Council chiefs have found asbestos in a primary school - sparking concerns for the safety of children.

Conwy County Borough Council discovered the material while revamping the kitchen at Ysgol Llandrillo yn Rhos in Rhos on Sea over the summer.

But officials stressed it was safe for pupils to go back to school this week with more work due to be carried out during the October half-term holidays.

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Stop Playing with Cancer!

JUAC, 27/07/2015

Asbestos victims support groups, trade unions and UK campaigning bodies are urging local authories, government agencies and market surveillance bodies to prioritize the threat being posed by the possible asbestos contamination of UK imports.

An exposé in the United States earlier this month documented the presence of various types of asbestos fibres in crayons and toy fingerprinting kits imported from China. Previously, Korean researchers identified asbestos contamination in baby powder from China2 and authorities in Italy, Spain and Ireland seized toxic thermos flasks also sourced from China. It is relevant to note that not only is China the world’s second biggest asbestos user, consuming over one million tonnes in 2013 and 2014, but China is also now the UK’s second largest import partner accounting for 7% of all UK
imports in 2014. How many of these imports contain asbestos?

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Merseyside children at risk of asbestos exposure at school

Laura Tacey, Liverpool Echo, 27/07/2015

The National Union for Teachers' demands its removal from all schools.

Merseyside school children could be at risk of asbestos exposure in the classroom.

Merseyside’s largest teaching union the NUT has raised concerns for children’s safety and say schools are an “asbestos timebomb” that can trigger lung disease in people decades after exposure.

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Mapped: Is your child at risk from asbestos at School in England?

Nick Gutteridge, Express, 21/07/2015

CHILDREN as young as four are being put at risk of serious health problems from exposure to deadly asbestos, it has emerged.

More than seven million schoolchildren are learning in asbestos-riddled classrooms, which could significantly increase their chances of developing cancer or respiratory problems in later life.

New research has revealed that the home counties are the most deadly areas in the country outside London, with more than 200,000 youngsters at risk in Kent alone.

In the capital a heart-stopping 1.2m children attend asbestos-riddled schools, according to figures obtained from a Freedom of Information request (FOI).

However, despite the clear health dangers schools have no obligation to tell parents whether or not there is asbestos present on the premises. 

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Janet Finch-Saunders AM/AC questions minister on safety of schools in Wales

Janet Finch-Saunders, 16/07/2015

Thursday, 16 July, 2015

Janet Finch-Saunders

Will the Minister make a statement on the safety of school and college buildings across Wales

Huw Lewis The Minister for Education and Skills

My thanks to the Member for Aberconwy. I am committed to the provision of safe, sustainable and inspiring learning environments. The twenty-first century schools and education programme represents a £1.4 billion investment over five years that will see the rebuilding and refurbishment of over 150 of our poorest condition schools and colleges in Wales.

Janet Finch-Saunders

A constituent, Mrs Gwyneth Bonnet, aged 60, sadly died at her home in January after a battle against the asbestos-related disease malignant mesothelioma, after previously working as a lecturer in what she described before her death as ‘asbestos cladded and rat-infested temporary buildings’ at Coleg Menai. Mr John Gittins, the coroner, said evidence provided by her indicated that the exposure to asbestos would have occurred during her time at Pencraig. Now, despite the fact these buildings have been demolished, the management at Coleg Menai still refuse to respond to concerns raised by the family in relation to this matter, but also in relation to others potentially exposed similarly at the time. Now, in the interests of full transparency and accountability, will you support my attempts to investigate this matter, and can you assure me what steps you are taking as Minister to safeguard our teaching staff and pupils from the danger of asbestos within our school or college buildings?

Huw Lewis

I’m more than happy, Presiding Officer, to look into the very sad case that the Member raises as an issue. I was, until this afternoon, unaware of that particular very sad case. I did meet my officials on 9 July to discuss the published review of asbestos management in schools by the UK Government Department for Education. I remind Members that the Welsh Government has no direct responsibility in this regard: it is a matter for the owners—usually local authorities—and for the Health and Safety Executive. Officials will review existing guidance for Wales with key stakeholders such as NHS Wales, HSE Wales and Welsh Government public health colleagues to ensure information remains current and accurate. My officials are currently organising this process with a view to completing it early in the new academic year. We will also maintain a watching brief during the design of the UK Government’s air sampling study. 

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Joint Union Asbestos Committee - Aims and Objectives

Joint Union Asbestos Committee, 29/06/2015

The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) was formed in 2010 and is a trade union campaigning committee comprising the 10 unions: Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL); Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL); National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT); NASUWT; National Union of Teachers (NUT); Voice; plus the education sections of, UNISON, Unite UCATT and the GMB, with the aim to make all UK schools and colleges safe from the dangers of asbestos.

In this document they have set out their aims and objectives and outcomes to date.

click here to read the full article

The teachers who say their classrooms gave them cancer

BBC, 17/06/2015

Teachers must be protected from the "scourge of asbestos" in UK schools, the National Union of Teachers has said. Two former teachers tell how they have been affected.

"I think it was in the ceilings, and I presume it was in the walls," said Jenny Darby, 71, a science teacher between 1969 and 1996.

"So when the [ceiling] tiles came off, the asbestos would come down. I used to stick them back up almost every day."

She does not know where she was exposed to the asbestos that caused her mesothelioma - a rare form of cancer almost always caused by exposure to the substance - but thinks it might have been in one of her classrooms. Asbestos was also in her lab equipment.

click here to read the full article

Questions to parliament about Asbestos in Schools

Hansard, 09/06/2015

Question asked by Louise Haigh (Shefflied, Heeley)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much her Department will spend to remove asbestos from primary and secondary schools in the next financial year.

To view the answer click here 


Question asked by Nicholas Dakin, (Scunthorpe)

To ask the hon. Member for Mole Valley representing the House of Commons Commission, what recent progress has been made on the operation of Parliament's Asbestos Management Plan; and if he will make a statement.

Click here to view the answer 

Developer in court after workers potentially exposed to asbestos

Health and Safety Executive, 08/06/2015

A construction firm has been fined after exposing workers to potentially deadly asbestos fibres during the conversion of an office block into residential flats in Witham, Essex.

In July 2012, Marden Homes Ltd was commissioned to convert an office block into residential flats, this involved removing a disused boiler and its pipes from the building’s former Plant Room.

During the refurbishment work, employees of Marden Homes Ltd disturbed pipe lagging which contained asbestos fibres. 

click here to read the full article

Cheshire firm in court after workers potentially exposed to asbestos

Health and Safety Executive, 05/06/2015

A laboratory design and installation specialist has been fined after exposing workers, pupils and teachers to asbestos material at a school in Suffolk.

The incident in July 2012 occurred during refurbishment work to modernise parts of Newmarket College School’s Science block. During the work, managed by Labform Ltd, sub-contractors disturbed asbestos as they were removing a wall and channelling the floor.

click here to read the full article

Department for Education; Schools Asbestos

TheyWorkForYou, 04/06/2015

On the 4th June 2015 Louise Haigh, Labour Member of Parliament for Sheffield Heeley posed the following questions which were then answered by Edward Timpson, The Minister for Schools

Question:

To ask the secretary of state for Education, how her Department is supporting the removal of asbestos in schools.

Answer:

Edward TimpsonThe Minister for Schools

The Department for Education supports the removal of asbestos from schools, where it is safe and appropriate to do so, through its capital funding schemes. The department published a review on the management of asbestos in schools in March 2015. This can be found here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/asbestos-in-schools-policy-review

Department for Education written questions - answered on 4th June 2015.

Question:

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps her Department is taking to improve asbestos management in schools

Answer:

Edward TimpsonThe Minister for Schools

While the management of asbestos in schools remains the responsibility of individual schools and duty holders, the department has taken steps to support them to fulfil their responsibilities.

In parallel with the review on asbestos management published in March 2015, the department published refreshed guidance for schools, which provides an accessible, step-by-step guide to managing any asbestos present in their buildings.

This guidance can be found here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/asbestos-management-in-schools--2

Question:

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, when the last assessment of levels of asbestos in schools in England and Wales was undertaken by her Department.

Answer:

Edward TimpsonThe Minister for Schools

The department’s review of the management of asbestos in the school estate was published in March 2015.

The department is clear that, under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, the responsibility for managing asbestos lies with the legal duty holder for schools, which is typically the employer. Under these regulations, the relevant duty holder for each school should hold detailed information about the amount and location of asbestos in their buildings and keep this information up-to-date.

click here to view the answers

London council in court after decade of ignoring asbestos risk

Health and Safety Executive, 29/05/2015

Waltham Forest borough council has been fined after it exposed members of staff and visiting contractors to the potentially lethal dangers of asbestos, which it knew to be present in the Town Hall basement.

The hazardous material was identified in a survey commissioned by the council in 2002, yet it failed to take adequate action to act on the findings and put effective controls in place. As a result employees and visiting contractors were allowed to carry on working in the basement regardless of the dangers for the next ten years.

click here to read the full article

Company fined after exposing Newmarket College students to asbestos

Cambridge News, 20/05/2015

A company which caused pupils and staff to be exposed to asbestos in an "inexcusable" incident at a school in Newmarket has been fined.

Students and staff at Newmarket College, now Newmarket Academy, were exposed to asbestos after sub contractors disturbed the material as they were removing a wall and channelling the floor.

The unnamed contractors, who were managed by Labform Ltd, were carrying out refurbishment work to modernise parts of the school's science block at the time of the incident.




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Schools are facing an asbestos timebomb

Fran Abrams, The Guardian, 19/05/2015

Eugene Symonds is looking up at a notice in one of his school’s temporary classrooms. “Warning: Encapsulated Asbestos. Do not cut or make fixings without proper authority and precautions,” it says.

Pupils at West Kidlington primary school in Oxfordshire use this area every day as a cloakroom. Symonds is trying to look on the bright side. “Our asset managers will tell us if there’s anything to worry about. I’m armed with the knowledge that if it’s enclosed and not causing problems, you should leave it alone,” he says. Then he stands back and looks at the notice again. “It is quite worrying, isn’t it? Now I’m not so sure.”

The 400-pupil school has had the four temporary classrooms since it opened in 1956. And while most of it was rebuilt after a fire in the 1990s, the prefabs survived – much to the chagrin of the staff.

It’s an issue that is exciting a growing chorus of complaint nationally. More than 75% of school buildings contain asbestos and many – mostly the huge number built in the three decades after the second world war – are now coming to the end of their useful lives.

According to the Local Government Association, disputes over asbestos removal from school buildings are holding up a significant number of projects.

click here to read the full article

The latest on the Right to Know Asbestos in Schools Petition.

Cenric Clement-Evans, 11/05/2015

The petition is to be considered again by the Petitions Committee of the National Assembly for Wales on Tuesday 12th May. The Minister for Education and Skills Huw Lewis AM is considering the Department for Education’s Report reviewing its policy on asbestos in schools in England and will respond by the 5th June. Cenric Clement-Evans spokesperson for the Right to Know Campaign has called for there to be an Asbestos in Schools Steering Group similar to in England so that Welsh Government is able to formulate policy whilst taking on board the opinions of experts.

To view the Agenda and Public Papers please click the link below.

http://www.senedd.cynulliad.cymru/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=218&MId=2917&Ver=4

A live broadcast of the meeting will be avialble on Senedd TV:

http://www.senedd.tv/  

Teachers at asbestos-riddled school launch charity after Government refuses to fund improvements

Martin Fricker, Mirror, 11/05/2015

Teachers at a run-down school have launched a charity website to raise £1million after the Government refused funding to improve facilities.

Children at Ash Lea school in Cotgrave, Notts, are taught in asbestos-riddled classrooms which should have been demolished a decade ago.

The special school is still rated as "good" by education inspectors despite not having wheelchair access or toilets fit for purpose.

click here to read the full article

Asbestos closes Droitwich High for some pupils

Alex Townley, Driotwich Advertiser, 05/05/2015

STUDENTS at Droitwich Spa High School were told to stay at home on Tuesday morning after asbestos was found in the building just before the bank holiday weekend.

Parents were sent a letter on Friday last week, letting them know that ‘background’ levels of asbestos had been discovered in parts of the main classroom block in the school, and asbestos specialists were called into the school over the three day weekend to investigate the extent of the situation.

Click here to read the full article

Why we need register of 'Killer Dust' in out schools

Andrew Penman, Mirror, 01/05/2015

Retired teacher Penny Devaney gave her life to education, literally.

Sometime during her 30 years at primary schools in Lancashire she was exposed to asbestos, which was commonly used in public buildings after the Second World War, and now she has terminal lung cancer.

“I was absolutely devastated when I was diagnosed with mesothelioma, which was caused purely by going to work and doing my job,” said Penny, 65.

“I never thought that I was being exposed to asbestos during my career and the diagnosis completely took me by surprise.”

The biggest teachers’ union is calling on the next government to tackle the “killer dust” tragedy, which claims the lives of up to 300 former pupils and 15 teachers a year.

Click here to read the full article

Conwy vicar's wife died from asbestos-related disease

North West Chronicle, 01/05/2015

A VICAR’S wife detailed to a solicitor her history as a lecturer in asbestos-cladded and rat-infested temporary buildings before she died.


Her horrifying account was read at an inquest in Llandudno on Wednesday, April 29.

Gwyneth Bonnet, aged 60, whose husband Tom is vicar of Caerhun, near Conwy, died at her home in January after a battle against the asbestos-related disease malignant mesothelioma.

In a statement to lawyers Mrs Bonnet recalled how when she lectured in psychology at Coleg Menai, Llangefni, in the 1990s she operated in mobile and prefabricated classrooms which were dilapidated and whose walls and ceilings were infested with rats.

”We could hear the rats scampering in the ceiling,” she recalled.

“When rat poison was laid the bodies would attract flies and there would be damp patches showing through the ceiling where they had died.

“I did not think all the time I was working that I would later get sick."

Click here to read the full article

Asbestos: A double standard

Kevin Courtney, SecEd, 30/04/2015

Fire deaths, cycle deaths and school-related asbestos deaths – while the government acts on the first two, it is scandalously slow to tackle the third, says Kevin Courtney

There were 266 domestic fire deaths in the UK in 2013. About the same number of adults die each year as a result of asbestos exposure experienced as a child at school. 

However, while the fire service rightly devotes much public effort and advertising to warning against the dangers of house fires, there is no public awareness campaign over asbestos in schools.

At the same time, there were 109 cycle deaths in 2013. This rightly led to huge concern over cycle safety in London – an intervention from the London mayor, enhanced police activity and much public debate about the need for safety features on goods lorries.

But the government has allowed the Health and Safety Executive to stop proactive asbestos inspections of schools. This was despite the estimate of the number of former pupils whose deaths were related to asbestos exposure being more than twice the number of people who die on bicycles a year.

It is clearly right to try to reduce fire and cycle deaths – but why is there so little focus on asbestos?

Click here to read the

Managing asbestos in your school

Department for Education, 26/03/2015

Asbestos in our schools: 'lives at risk'

Pendle Today, 20/03/2015

Teaching leaders claim lives are being put at risk after it was revealed more than 90% of Lancashire schools contain asbestos.

Figures obtained after a Freedom of Information request reveal as many as 41 schools in the Burnley and Padiham area could be classed as being “at risk”, as well as a further 38 in Pendle and 22 in the Ribble Valley. 

Click here to read the full article

Campaigners' anger at failure to reveal which North Wales school poses asbestos risk

Rachel Flint, Daily Post, 14/03/2015

A campaigner calling for action over the presence of potentially deadly asbestos in schools has slated the health minister for Wales for sitting back and waiting for England.

Over a year has passed since almost 450 people signed a petition calling on the Welsh Government to create a national public database in a bid to stop the killer fibres being unwittingly disturbed in classrooms.

Now, despite repeated calls for the Senedd to act and to create a plan to remove asbestos from schools, a campaigner has said that no actions have been taken as the health minister is waiting for the outcome of a consultation in England.

Click here to read the full article

PE teacher may have been exposed to asbestos in gymnasiums, coroner told

Paul Greaves, Herald Express, 23/02/2015

AN INQUEST has been opened into the death of a 67-year-old retired PE teacher who had been suffering from an asbestos-related disease.

Juliette Mary Austin, of Elmwood Crescent, Dawlish, had been exposed to asbestos during her working life, most likely in various gymnasiums.



Click here to read the full article

Asbestos in schools - and the impact it could have on your health

Jersey Evening Post, 10/02/2015

Continuing an investigation into asbestos, we look at how cancer-inducing asbestos was widely used in Island schools in the 1970s and 80s and the increase in the incidence of mesothelioma

Of all the concerns raised about the presence of asbestos, one of the most worrying is the widespread use of this carcinogenic material in schools and colleges, not least because of potential harm to both teachers and their pupils.

One of the problems is that symptoms of disease can take many years to develop – up to 40 years, in some cases – but until the mid-1980s the full dangers were not widely known. So those working in buildings where they were exposed to asbestos in the 1970s and 80s may only now be suffering the consequences.

Click here to read the full article

Council to spend extra £250,000 removing asbestos from former Penarth schools

Chris Seal, Penarth Times, 26/01/2015

AN EXTRA £250,000 is set to be spent on removing asbestos from three former Penarth schools.

The Vale Council agreed to spend £200,000 removing asbestos from the former St Cyres, Ysgol Erw’r Delyn and Ashgrove School buildings in November last year.

But after work began on the demolition of the vacated buildings more Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) were subsequently found in the buildings.

Click here to read the full article

Cardiff Council to fork out £1.2m to remove asbestos from empty high school

James Rothwell, Wales Online, 26/01/2015

Cardiff Council had expected to pay just £150,000 from the old Llanederyn High School as part of the St Teilo's schools project.

The cost of asbestos removal as part of a Cardiff council schools project has rocketed to £1.2m after a “significant” amount was found at Llanedeyrn High School.

Cardiff council had expected to pay just £150,000 to remove asbestos from the old Llanedeyrn High School as part of the St Teilo’s school project.

But it was revealed last night the cost had risen to £1.2m after surveyors discovered a “significant” amount in the flooring

Click here to read the full article

Derby campaigner backs demands for urgent action on asbestos in schools

Derby Telegraph, 24/01/2015

A DERBY campaigner is adding his voice to calls for a Government report into the management of asbestos in schools to be published as soon as possible.

Originally, the report was due to be published last June, following extensive consultation 12 months ago but now it looks increasingly likely it will be at the end of February.



Click here to read the full article

Asbestos in Schools - the time for action is now!

Cenric Clement-Evans, 14/01/2015

As a personal injury lawyer, my role is normally to try and help people piece back together their lives after suffering serious injury. Campaigning on the issue of asbestos in schools, though, gives me a rare opportunity to change the future.

More than 75 per cent of Britain’s state schools contain asbestos and indeed in Wales the percentage is higher at approximately 85 per cent. In other words the vast majority of the population of the UK may have encountered asbestos whilst at school.

I first became aware of the issue when I was instructed on behalf of a school cleaner who had been diagnosed with the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma. Unsurprisingly she was unable to recall any exposure to asbestos. It did not occur to her that she might have been exposed to asbestos as a child at school or later when working at a number of schools.

Not long afterwards I had the privilege of hearing Michael Lees MBE speak. Michael, who lost his wife Gina, a schoolteacher aged only 51, to mesothelioma, has been a tireless campaigner on asbestos in schools and his sheer bloody minded persistence has been an inspiration to many including myself.

Click here to read the full article

How the coalition is failing to act on 'time-bomb' of asbestos in schools

Annie Powell, Left Foot Foward, 12/01/2015

A key government report on asbestos in schools was due in June 2014. Yet it still hasn’t been published. Why?


Before researching this subject I knew that asbestos was present in many schools. I thought, however, that it was generally well managed and that there was nothing much to worry about. I was wrong.

Schoolchildren and staff are at considerable risk of exposure to asbestos and the government is failing to take relatively simple steps to reduce their risk of developing the fatal disease mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancers.

Click here to read the full article

Teacher died from cancer caused by hanging pupils' paintings on classroom walls

Mirror, 06/01/2015

An art teacher exposed to asbestos while hanging pupils’ paintings on classroom walls died from lung cancer caused by her work.

Jennifer Barnett, 60, died from malignant mesothelioma in September 2014.

Husband Nigel Barnett, of Painswick, Glos, told an inquest: “She became an art teacher and worked at various schools, often hanging paintings on walls containing asbestos.”

Click here to read the full article

Classroom asbestos dust claimed life of former derbyshire teacher Joe Gallagher

Martin Naylor, Derby Telegraph, 14/10/2014

TEACHER Joe Gallagher loved making things with wood – but, tragically, it was his passion that would eventually lead to his death, due to asbestos cancer.

Mr Gallagher's widow, Maureen, said her husband was unaware the dust which swirled around his classroom was deadly.

She said "Joe used to tell me that the asbestos was flying around the room when he reached up to pull out the wood from the racking.

"At that time you were unaware of the dangers.


Click here to read the full article

Retired school cook died from cancer after asbestos exposure

Express & Star, 14/10/2014

Senior Black Country coroner Zafar Siddique ruled that Marjorie Lillian Birks died due to industrial disease.

Mrs Birks, who was known as Lillian, died at Sandwell General Hospital on July 9, aged 81.

Mr Siddique said a post-mortem found that Mrs Birks, of St Luke's Road, Wednesbury, died from a malignant mesothelima, a rare form of cancer usually caused by exposure to asbestos.

Click here to read the full article

Calls for removal of asbestos in Leeds schools

Yorkshire Evening Post, 13/10/2014

Campaigners are calling for asbestos to be removed from classrooms after new figures reveal nearly three-quarters of schools in Leeds contain the dust.

Around 190 of the city’s schools contain some elements of the material which could be dangerous if disturbed.


Asbestos, which was often used in construction until it was banned in 1999, has been linked to diseases such as mesothelioma.


The daughter of a Leeds mesothelioma victim whose legacy is a research charity, deemed the figures “chilling”.

Click here to read the full article

Pioneering treatment gives dying wife five more years

Jaymi Mcann, Express, 10/09/2014

Language teacher Carole had never heard of mesothelioma when she was diagnosed with it in 2008.

She went on to live another five years and 10 months after she became one of the first patients to undergo a pioneering treatment that uses a deactivated cold virus to kick-start the immune system ­enabling it to target and fight the cancer.

Click here to read the full article

Mother diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer wins settlement from Brent Council

John Shammas, Get West London, 04/09/2014

Mrs Bowman believes the illness first developed during her time at the new-demolished William Gladstone High School.

A mother who was told she had less than a year to live after being diagnosed with terminal asbestos-related cancer originating from her school days has won a settlement from Brent Council.

The authority initially denied it was at fault in 2011 when Sarah Bowman, 46, from Wembley, said her condition came as a result of her time as a pupil at the now-demolished William Gladstone High School from 1979 to 1984.

Click here to read the full article

Parents 'kept in the dark' over toxic asbestos discovery at Harrow school

John Shammas, Get West London, 03/09/2014

In a letter to parents, the headteacher apologised to parents that the school year was to be delayed, but failed to mention discovery of asbestos was one of the reasons.

Click here to read the full article

Asbestos: the killer that still surrounds us

Harry De Quetteville, The Telegraph, 01/09/2014

Asbestos: The killer that still surrounds us .... It’s been illegal for decades, but asbestos is everywhere, embedded in our homes, schools, offices and shops. It’s now killing more people in Britain than anywhere else in the world....... “Asbestos was frequently used in offices, shops, libraries and town halls for its marvellous insulating and flame-retarding properties. Schools too. In fact many people will have been first exposed to asbestos in the classroom. Up and down the country, in myriad chemistry lessons, pupils have perched their Bunsen burners on asbestos mats. Websites have sprung up to address the issue of asbestos in schools

Click here to read the full article

New figures reveal extent of asbestos-related cancer in Merseyside

Joshua Taylor, Liverpool Echo, 28/07/2014

"HSE latest figures show that since 1981 1200 people have died on Merseyside from the asbestos related cancer mesothelioma. Inevitably many more will have died from asbestos related lung cancer as well. Right to know supports the call from the Merseyside Asbestos Victims Support Group for hundred percent compensation to be paid to victims of asbestos disease and for there to be a levy upon insurers to fund medical research for these neglected asbestos-related cancers. Sadly people will continue to die for decades into the future unless we start doing something about it now."

Click here to read the full article

Honest Answer from new Minister

Cenric Clement-Evans, 18/07/2014

On his second day as Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions, Mark Harper MP gave an honest answer to the Chair of Asbestos in Schools Group Annette Brooke MP, that there is no specific HSE system of inspection of schools to assess their management of asbestos.

Michael Lees MBE whose wife Gina a teacher who died from mesothelioma commented;

“The government expects schools to manage their asbestos and then has scrapped the means to ensure that they are achieving safe standards. This is a dangerous policy and is putting school staff and pupils at risk.”

Right to Know spokesperson and NewLaw lawyer Cenric Clement-Evans added, this is precisely why in Wales we are calling for Welsh Government to put measures in place, including a  database,  to ensure that parents and guardians of children across Wales, can easily access information about the presence and management of asbestos in all school buildings. Of course this should be for all schools in the UK and it is a disgrace to hear that schools are expected to manage asbestos with no specific HSE inspection system in place.”

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140716/text/140716w0002.htm#140716w0002.htm_wqn31

Plan to rid school of asbestos

South Wales Argus, 08/07/2014

A GWENT council is to begin a two-year programme to rid its schools of asbestos.

Caerphilly County Borough Council aims to remove asbestos-containing materials from 37 of its schools. The £800,000 project – laid before the council cabinet’s meeting last Wednesday – will see amosite asbestos products removed from occupied areas of school buildings around the county.


Asbestos insulation boards are commonly in many of the affected schools and will be removed from ceilings, wall panels and vent shafts to reduce the risk of accidental disturbance.

Click here to read the full article

Warwick University building evacuated

Georgia Arlott, Coventry Telegraph, 08/07/2014

A building site at Warwick University had to be evacuated after workers stumbled across potentially deadly asbestos.

Several builders were evacuated during their shift last Tuesday and the site has remained closed ever since.

The workers, who are carrying out a renovation at halls of residence on Westwood Campus, blasted through some desks, releasing the asbestos fibres into the air.

Click here to read the full article

NAHT calls for better asbestos management training

NAHT, 30/06/2014

School leaders’ union NAHT is calling for better asbestos management training for school leaders after a recent HSE inspection round resulted in 13 per cent of the 150 academies and free schools inspected being served with improvement notices.

Click here to read the full article

Petition Update - A Welcome Response from the Health & Safety Executive

Cenric Clement-Evans, 19/06/2014

On the 17th June the National Assembly for Wales Petitions Committee considered and discussed the Right to Know petition for a third time. On the agenda was a letter from the HSE in response to a letter from the Petitions Committee, requesting the HSE’s comments on the Right to Know petition.

In his letter of the 23rd May, Kevin Myers the Acting Chief Executive of the HSE advised, that whilst the HSE is responsible for enforcing the Control of Asbestos Regulations in schools in England, Scotland and Wales, it did not have responsibility for the policies adopted by those with duties and the regulations. There was nothing to prevent Welsh Government adopting measures called for by the Right to Know campaign to allow access to information about asbestos in schools to parents or guardians. The HSE as a regulatory body had no formal view on whether Welsh government should require some such measures as called for as a matter of policy.

In other words it is the responsibility of Welsh government to decide upon policy relating to asbestos in schools in Wales.

To view the HSE letter please click here

The HSE’s position is entirely in keeping with the statements made on behalf of UK government which are summarised in my recent clickonwales article.  http://www.clickonwales.org/2014/04/asbestos-ping-pong-between-cardiff-bay-and-westminster/


In my response to the committee I called upon Welsh Government to consult with interested parties in order to set policy on asbestos in schools in Wales, I asked that the measures called for in the petition be included as an integral part of the policy.
I’m pleased to say that the committee is referring the letter of the HSE to the Minister for Education and Skills for his response. The committee is also notifying the Children, Young People and Education Committee and writing to other interested parties, namely the Welsh Local Government Association and Wales TUC, who passed the following resolution at their conference in May.


Wales TUC Conference 2014

“Removal of asbestos from schools”

Conference reaffirms the position of the Wales TUC that the only safe option in relation to the control of asbestos in school buildings is to remove and dispose of the risk.

Conference welcomes the clarity provided in the House of Lords on 14 January 2014 that the development of policies for the management and control of asbestos in schools is a matter for the Welsh Government.

Conference, therefore, calls on the Welsh Government to embrace this responsibility and work with local government and the Wales TUC to develop a policy for the progressive, safe and effective removal of asbestos from all schools in Wales.”

In short I believe that these are small but significant steps towards making schools in Wales safer places for children and for those working there.

To view the Petitions Committee review of the Right to Know petition please click this link
http://www.senedd.assemblywales.org/ieIssueDetails.aspx?IId=8437&Opt=3

Leading Asbestos in Schools Campaigner Awarded MBE

16/06/2014

The Right to Know Campaign is delighted to report that the leading asbestos in schools campaigner, Michael Lees, has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2014 for services to education https://www.gov.uk/government/news/queens-birthday-honours-2014-education-and-childrens-services.

Michael's wife Gina was a primary school teacher who was exposed to asbestos at school. She died of mesothelioma aged 51. Michael has researched extensively and campaigned tirelessly to make schools safer from asbestos.http://www.asbestosexposureschools.co.uk/Michael%20Lees%20CV.html?zoom_highlight=gina


Michael and the Asbestos in Schools Group have been tremendous supporters of the Right to Know Asbestos in Schools Wales campaign. He has always willingly given his time and advice to support the campaign and the MBE is well deserved, it has been a privilege for Right to Know to work with Michael.

Health and Safety Executive issues advice about WWII gas masks

Health and Safety Executive, 09/05/2014

Health and Safety Executive issues advice to the 3 Education Departments of Great Britain that children and teachers should not handle WWII gas masks because of the risk of exposure to asbestos. The HSE also warns about the risk of asbestos exposure from First World War helmets.

Download the Health and Safety Executive Advice PDF

Right to Know responds to Department for Education Consultation on Asbestos in Schools

Cenric Clement-Evans, 31/03/2014

The Department for Education in England is carrying out a policy review on the issue of asbestos management in schools. This has included a consultation on which closes on the 31st March 2014

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/asbestos-management-in-schools-dfe-policy-review

The Department for Education were particularly mindful of the findings contained in the report of the Committee on Carcinogenicity (CoC) which had been asked to look into the relative vulnerability of children to low  level exposure to asbestos fibres.

It had concluded,

“There is evidence that exposure to asbestos in childhood can cause mesothelioma in later life. The effect of increased life expectancy and the long latency period is recognised with the lifetime risk of developing mesothelioma predicted to be about 3.5 times greater for a child first exposed at age 5 compared to an adult first exposed at age 25 and about 5 times greater when compared to an adult first exposed at age 30.”

The Right to Know response outlines the stark difference between the views of UK Government and Welsh Government as to where responsibility for management of asbestos in schools in Wales and for policy on asbestos in schools in Wales lies.

Cenric Clement-Evans commented “It is disappointing, that whilst in England, the Department for Education, by conducting this review, shows how seriously it takes the issue of asbestos in schools, in Wales, Welsh Government continues to deny all responsibility. That children are more vulnerable to the risks associated with asbestos, is beyond dispute  and with 85% of schools in Wales  containing asbestos, it is the health of our nation that is at stake here.”

Middlesbrough grandfather died just weeks after receiving asbestos compensation - inquest

Chris Webber, Northern Echo, 24/01/2014

Asbestos does not discriminate as to whom it kills. Electricians such as the late Mr Berry are a group particularly at risk as they carry out maintenance work in properties which may unbeknown to them contain asbestos. It is noteworthy that he may have been exposed to asbestos whilst working in schools, swimming baths and social housing. Our public buildings are riddled with asbestos with 75% of British state schools containing asbestos. Asbestos will continue to take its toll for decades to come unless we act now and put plans in place like Australia to remove it from our public buildings.

Click the link to read the full article

Asbestos danger fears at half of Bradford district's schools

Chris Young, Telegraph & Argus, 30/12/2013

Almost half of Bradford Council schools still contain potentially-deadly asbestos, new figures reveal.

And a teaching union fears that with more schools moving out of local authority control to become academies, efforts to prevent staff and pupils from possible harm could be diluted.

The Council has stressed that it keeps a close watch on the management of asbestos in its school buildings but the National Union of Teachers has warned that when schools become academies, there is a risk of losing track of that vital information.

Click here to read the full article

Caring teacher died after being exposed to asbestos from hanging pupils' work on contaminated classroom walls for 25 years

Inderdeep Bains, 29/11/2013

For 25 years, she dedicated herself to educating children.

A passionate teacher, Marion Potts proudly pinned her pupils’ work to her classroom walls.

She had no idea this simple gesture was exposing her to asbestos that would eventually lead to her death

The 63-year-old, who had worked at numerous schools across the country and abroad, died in June from mesothelioma, a cancer associated with the toxic substance.

An inquest heard the only place she could have been exposed to it was at school, where it can be released from walls in older buildings when displays are put up with drawing pins.

Click the link to read the full article

Education Questions: The continued existence of the DfE Asbestos Steering Group

14/11/2013

Today at Education Questions Annette Brooke MP sought public confirmation on the Government’s policy towards the continuation, or otherwise, of the Asbestos in Schools Steering Group. This was asked in light of the recent Guardian article that indicated the Secretary of State’s intention is to scrap it.

Tellingly the Minister avoided answering the question.

Annette Brooke (Mid Dorset and North Poole) (LD):

May I be assured that the asbestos in schools steering group will continue, given the importance of developing a clear, up-to-date policy and strategy regarding asbestos?

Mr Laws:

We are still looking closely at the important issue of asbestos in schools, and we are beginning a review into this subject very shortly. I shall ensure that my hon. Friend has a full opportunity to contribute to the review.

Leak reveals plan to axe asbestos in schools group

Dorothy Lepkowska, 07/11/2013

Asbestos campaigners have voiced their fears that ministers may try and silence critics of DfE asbestos policy by axing its Asbestos in Schools groups. After a leak to the national press, there have been calls for transparency over group’s future. Dorothy Lepkowska reports.

Click the link to read the full article

Asbestos in student bedrooms

Sian Elvin, The Boar, 30/10/2013

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the Boar has revealed that every single bedroom in campus accommodation buildings Westwood and Tocil contains asbestos.

This news comes after the Guardian revealed over the summer that Warwick is the university which provides the most rooms that contain asbestos to students.

2,313 rooms on campus contain asbestos, which is 35 percent of the total number of available bedrooms, including shared accommodation.

Click the link to read the full article

Education in brief: cuts mooted; 'resistance' quashed

Warwick Mansell, The Guardian, 28/10/2013

Ministers have considered scaling back the Department for Education's work addressing the issue of asbestos in schools because of budget cuts, Education Guardian has learned. A DfE document passed to ministers for comment in February, which also featured in these pages last week, says the department could "stop policy work and reduce stakeholder engagement on asbestos". More than 100 teachers are reported to have died from mesothelioma, a cancer usually caused by asbestos, since 2000.

Click the link to read the full article

Welsh pupils still at risk from Asbestos

Cenric Clement-Evans, 03/09/2013

As the new term starts Cenric Clement-Evans calls for greater transparency around a hidden killer in our schools.

It is almost a school year since Cwmcarn High School was closed as the result of the presence of asbestos in the school. There remains considerable controversy as to the risk posed by that asbestos, with the conclusions of the two asbestos consultancies wholly at odds with those of the Health and Safety Executive.

The decision to close the school and spend a reported £1 million on the removal of asbestos, was taken with the safety of children and teachers in mind. Yet, is Cwmcarn an isolated case? BBC Wales survey findings in October 2012 that about 85 per cent of Welsh schools contain asbestos, would suggest it isn’t. People working and studying in schools across Wales are still likely to be at risk.

Click to view the full article

Cwmcarn High safe despite asbestos, says HSE

BBC South East Wales, 19/07/2013

A school which has been shut since October over asbestos health concerns is "essentially uncontaminated", say experts.

The Health and Safety Executive's new report into Cwmcarn High School, in Caerphilly county, said there should be no problems if properly managed.

The HSE said asbestos was present, as it was in other public buildings, but it did not present a risk.

click here read full article

Cwmcarn asbestos school on target for September reopening

Emma Mackintosh, South Wales Argus, 19/07/2013

CONTRACTORS are making progress at Cwmcarn High School to fix airborne asbestos problems which shut the school last year.

Pupils have been learning at the former Coleg Gwent site in Ebbw Vale since the school closed last October.

A statement on the school website said workmen were removing asbestos debris and sealing asbestos panels that are safe to be left.

Click here to read the full article

Right to Know Supports Action on Mesothelioma Day - 5th July 2013

JUAC, 05/07/2013

The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) supports Action Mesothelioma Day. The event aims to raise awareness of mesothelioma and to promote the Action Mesothelioma Charter.

Over 75 per cent of ’s state schools contain asbestos. According to the Asbestos in Schools: the need for action report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health - the asbestos is badly maintained; meaning that children and staff are exposed to this killer fibre.

Julie Winn, Chair of JUAC said “The recent statement by the Committee on Carcinogenicity concluded that children are more vulnerable to exposure to asbestos than adults. This statement highlights the need for a review of Government Policy. Schools should not be treated as ordinary workplaces – they are unique workplaces because they contain large numbers of children; known to be more vulnerable to asbestos. Consequently they need special treatment in terms of asbestos regulation.”

More than 140 school teachers have died from mesothelioma (a cancer that is almost exclusively caused by exposure to asbestos) in the past ten years. An unknown number of cleaners, administrative staff, caretakers, cooks and lunchtime supervisors have also died. The number of children who have been killed by exposure to asbestos at school is unknown, but in the it was estimated that for every one teacher who dies, nine former pupils will die in adulthood from their exposure as a child. In the that would mean that more than 100 people are dying every year as a result of asbestos exposure when they were at school.

Julie Winn said “The current standard of asbestos management in schools is inconsistent; with a significant number of schools failing their staff and pupils. Recent surveys by the Health and Safety Executive found almost a quarter of those schools surveyed were not complying with existing legislation. We have fallen behind the which has had school specific regulations since 1986. has now passed legislation for the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Bill. The Bill establishes a national agency that will investigate the problem of asbestos in . The Agency will then implement a strategic plan to eradicate asbestos and eliminate asbestos disease. A national strategic approach is required in the – it is the view of the JUAC that existing policy does not deliver this for schools.”

The Department for Education (DfE) has issued online guidance and JUAC would urge all those involved in schools and colleges to read and follow the guidance to help prevent further school related mesothelioma deaths.

The DfE asbestos guidance for schools is available at:- 

http://www.education.gov.uk/b00215518/asbestosmanagementschools

The Action Mesothelioma Charter is available at:-

http://www.asbestosforum.org.uk/actionMesoDay.asp

The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Bill is available at:- Bill ends

*JUAC is a trade union campaigning committee comprising the six main education unions: Association of School and College Leaders; Association of Teachers and Lecturers; National Association of Head Teachers; NASUWT; National Union of Teachers; Voice; plus the education sections of Unite, UNISON, UCATT and the GMB:www.juac.org.uk. The Group has the objective of making all schools and colleges safe from the dangers of asbestos. All the unions in JUAC are members of the Asbestos in Schools (AIS) campaign.

For more information please contact:-

JUAC – Julie Winn (Chair) – julie.winn@switalskis.com

AIS - Michael Lees -  Michael@lees1262.fsworld.co.uk

Cwmcarn High School asbestos removal starts at £1m cost

BBC News South East Wales, 28/06/2013

Work has started on removing asbestos from a school which was forced to close.

Cwmcarn High School, in Caerphilly county, shut in October 2012 over fears that its 900 pupils were at risk.

They have since been taught 12 miles (19km) away at Coleg Gwent's Ebbw Vale campus, prompting parents' protests.

Caerphilly council is paying £1m to deal with the asbestos, with pupils expected back for the autumn term in September.

To read the full article click here

AM Bethan Jenkins backs campaign

South Wales Evening Post, 18/06/2013

A Neath-Based AM has backed a campaign highlighting that children are more exposed to the risks of asbestos than adults.

Bethan Jenkins, AM for South Wales West, said youngsters were more vulnerable to developing mesothelioma — cancer linked to asbestos.

The Committee on Carcinogenicity has made the warning in a report to the Department for Education's (DfE) independent Asbestos in Schools Steering Group.

Figures show 85 per cent of schools contain asbestos.

click here to view the article

Asbestos risk to children 'greater over lifetime'

Angela Harrison, Education correspondent, BBC News, 07/06/2013

A committee that advises the government on cancer has said children are more vulnerable to asbestos than adults over their lifetime.

It says a five-year-old is five times more likely than an adult of 30 to develop mesothelioma, a type of cancer linked to asbestos, if they are exposed to it at the same time.

cleick here to read the article

Asbestos report on Welsh school finally released

EDEXEC, 28/05/2013

HSE to release asbestos report findings on a Welsh school closed last year due to asbestos levels, following accusations of a cover up

The Health and Safety Executive has agreed to publish a report into asbestos levels at a Welsh school after accusations of a cover up.

Click to read the full article

Torfaen reveals schools with asbestos

South Wales Argus, 22/05/2013

List of 32 school buidlings containing asbestos has been revealed by Torfaen council.

The council has posted the list on its website, detailing which schools contain asbestos, and the plans that are in place to ensure it is managed correctly.

Of Torfaen’s two nursery schools, 29 primary schools, seven comprehensives and one special school, totalling 39 building, 32 contain asbestos.

The disclosure highlights the council’s support for the Right to Know: Asbestos in Schools Wales campaign, which is calling for a national online schools asbestos database to be established.

To read the full article click here

Campaigners demand transparency in Cwmcarn asbestos case

SecEd Reporter, 16/05/2013

Campaigners angry at “a lack of transparency” over the investigation into asbestos exposure at a South Wales school are demanding action.

The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) has written to schools minister David Laws demanding the publication of a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report into asbestos exposure at Cwmcarn High.

Last month, schools across the UK were urged to check any warm air cabinet heaters to ensure they are not releasing asbestos fibres after it emerged that the closure of Cwmcarn in October 2012 was caused by heaters emitting amosite asbestos fibres.

To read the full article click here

Asbestos in Schools - Questions to the First Minister, Carwyn Jones

03/05/2013

Whilst we were busy preparing for the Right to Know : Asbestos in Schools Wales reception at the Senedd on Tuesday evening,  Assembly Members had taken the opportunity to ask Wales’ First Minister Carwyn Jones questions about asbestos in schools. It was very welcome to see how important the First Minister considers the issue to be. It was extremely heartening to see that he says that there should be transparency with regard to asbestos surveys of schools, and that parents should know what the state of schools is. In other words it appears that the First Minister agrees that there is a “Right to Know”. 

All the questions and answers are set out in full below together with the link to the National Assembly of Wales website http://www.assemblywales.org/docs/rop_xml/130430_plenary_bilingual.xml#79764

Aled Roberts

5. “What is the First Minister’s position on the right of children and their parents to receive information about the management of asbestos in schools?” 

The First Minister

“I recognise the concerns of parents and teachers regarding the presence of asbestos in schools. It is important to be aware of the location and condition of asbestos and local authorities are required to have asbestos surveys undertaken on their premises to enable them to manage this issue.”

Aled Roberts:

“I have received responses from a number of authorities explaining that they have not undertaken any surveys for a decade or more. I know that the Minister for Education has tackled this problem, but is there a risk, given that the Department for Education in England published new guidelines in October 2012 stating that they are not appropriate for Wales, that the change in terms of the education department and the health and safety department would create problems for us here in Wales?”

The First Minister:

“It is extremely important that local authorities ensure that they carry out surveys. If they have done that for a decade or more, then it would certainly be worthwhile doing so now. The Minister has reminded authorities in Wales to ensure that they do undertake these surveys as soon as possible.”

Angela Burns: 

“First Minister, some surveys have been undertaken, as my colleague has said. However, this has certainly not been communicated to parents. I wonder whether you would agree with the comments of the international expert Professor Julian Peto, who appeared before Westminster’s Education Committee and said:

‘all that matters is whether or not kids are breathing in asbestos and, until you find that out, everything else is hot air.’

I happen to agree with him completely. As First Minister, will you please oversee this matter so that we ensure that parents know that schools understand the different types of asbestos that they have so that local authorities get on and deal with it?”

The First Minister:

 “Local authorities have already been reminded of this issue. It should be pointed out that there is no suggestion that there is any danger to children in schools in Wales. It is known that if asbestos is undisturbed, it is safe. It is the dust, especially when asbestos is cut, that causes problems such as mesothelioma, particularly over time. However, it is important that local authorities, if asked by parents about the condition of school buildings, are able to answer and give an assurance that if asbestos is present it is safely contained.”

 Simon Thomas:

“First Minister, do you agree that one way of easing the concerns of parents in this context, and to avoid scaremongering, is to make sure that as much information as possible is available to all? For example, this week, I have received a piece of information from Powys County Council, having appealed to the Information Commission under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, that shows that Powys council has conducted a survey of every school, which is good to know. Why is such information not disseminated to everyone in Wales, on the same level for every parent and child, so that we can all understand the situation better and take the appropriate steps to deal with it?

The First Minister:

“I believe that that is completely reasonable. I do not see why they should try to hide in any way any surveys that are undertaken, so what we say to local authorities is that if surveys have been undertaken, it is exceptionally important that people understand the outcomes of those surveys so that parents can know what the state of the schools is.”


Senedd event raises awareness of asbestos in schools

Right to Know:Asbestos in Schools Wales, 02/05/2013

The Right to Know: Asbestos in Schools Wales group held a well-attended event at the Senedd on 30th April to raise awareness of the campaign.

The event featured speakers including Michael Lees, whose wife Gina, a primary school teacher, died of mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos at the schools where she worked. Michael has since become a tireless campaigner and the driving force behind the UK wide Asbestos in Schools Group, together with Right to Know spokesperson Cenric Clement-Evans of NewLaw Solicitors. Also speaking were Dr Richard Attanoos Consultant Pathologist and David Evans Vice President of Wales TUC.

A number of assembly members, head teachers and teachers, attended the event together with representatives of local authorities, cancer charities and trade unions, to learn more about the scientific research into asbestos in schools, and to find out more about the risks involved.

The issue of asbestos in schools has been highlighted in Wales, following the closure of Cwmcarn High School in Caerphilly. The combination of making alternative arrangements for the education of the pupils and the removal of asbestos to allow the school to be reopened will cost just short of £2.5 million.

The Right to Know: Asbestos in Schools Wales campaign, aimed at Welsh Government and Local Authorities, is calling for a national online schools asbestos database to be established.

Under the proposals, parents and those who work in schools including cleaners, caretakers as well as teachers, would be able to access the database online, and check whether asbestos is present in any school, and whether an up-to-date management plan is in place where it is present.

The campaign is supported by an increasing number of assembly members, cancer charities, trade unions, local authorities and by campaigners NewLaw Solicitors.

Nick Ramsay AM, who chairs the cross-party group on asbestos and chaired the event, said:

"The legacy of asbestos in many of our school buildings is obviously a concerning one for parents and teachers alike. I believe there needs to be more transparency around where asbestos is present, and that parents should be as informed as possible about the risks.

It was great to see so many campaign supporters at the event, and that so many Assembly Members took the time out to come along and find out more.

It was concerning to learn at the event that young children are far more susceptible to asbestos-related diseases, so anything that empowers parents and teachers to hold their Local Authority to account regarding their children and their safety while in the classroom is to be welcomed."

To view the photographs from the event click here
 

 

Asbestos concerns expose flaws in monitoring hazardous material in our schools, claim campaigners

Wales Online, 30/04/2013

Wales is in danger of falling down a “devolutionary crack” in regulations over the monitoring of asbestos on schools, campaigners have warned.

The Right To Know: Asbestos in Schools Wales campaign has warned existing regulations issued in England do not apply to Wales, meaning neither educational or health and safety guidance would apply.

It comes ahead of a reception held by asbestos activists in the Senedd on Tuesday to warn of the dangers of asbestos in schools, set up following the closure of a school due to a report in October finding pupils were at risk from the material.

The school is due to reopen in September after Caerphilly councillors unanimously approved £1m of work to remove asbestos from the site.

But the Right To Know campaign – which is targeting the Welsh Government and local councils – is calling for a national online register of asbestos levels across Welsh schools.

Click here to read the full story

Silent killer in the classroom

Ben Borland, Scottish Express, 07/04/2013

CHILDREN'S lives are being put in danger by the failure of Scottish ministers to look again the problem of deadly asbestos in schools, campaigners have warned.

New figures seen by the Sunday Express show that in some council areas nine out of every 10 pupils are currently at risk of being exposed to cancer-causing fibres.

The issue is now being examined by both Westminster and the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff, yet nothing has been done at Holyrood since a petition from a group of worried parents was closed three years ago.

To read the full article please click here

Asbestos in schools: Have Thousands Died?

Dorothy Lepkowska, SecEd, 21/03/2013

Asbestos campaigners have called for a full inquiry into the presence of the deadly material in schools after MPs heard that thousands of people could have died from exposure over the decades. It comes as the HSE maintains that managing, not removing, asbestos is still the safer option.

To read the full article please click here

Asbestos report vindicates us on Cwmcarn School - Caerphilly councillor's claim

Emma Mackintosh, Campaign Series, 20/03/2013

A REPORT highlighting the extent of asbestos contamination at Cwmcarn High School "vindicates" the council's decision to close it, a Caerphilly cabinet member claimed tonight.

A survey by consultants Ensafe sets out the work required to address the problem at the site before pupils and staff can return.

In a statement released a few minutes ago, Councillor Rhianon Passmore, cabinet member for education, said of the survey: "I hope the community will recognise we had no option but to temporarily close the school in the best interests of pupils and staff."

To read the full article please click here

Tragic Woman's Final Warning

Lancashire Evening Post, 14/03/2013

The sister of a former college lecturer who died from an industrial lung disease, has warned that thousands of other students and staff may have been put at risk.

Cynthia Clarke of Fulwood taught in the English Department of Preston College for nearly 25 years, having joined the staff in 1971 when it was known as Tuson College.

In July 2008 she was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a form of cancer that is almost exclusively caused by exposure to asbestos. Despite chemotherapy treatment, she died in April 2010 aged 66.

To read the full article please click here

Campaign group: Industrial disease could kill children

ITV, 13/03/2013

Michael Lees from the campaign group Asbestos in Schools, will be amongst those attending a committee meeting today, to discuss the issue of asbestos.

Michael's wife Gina was a school teacher, who died from mesothelioma, the form of cancer developed from exposure to asbestos.

Click here to see the interview

No plan to close Cwmcarn High School over asbestos - councillor

Campaign News, 11/03/2013

A SENIOR Caerphilly councillor has hit out at claims the closure of Cwmcarn High School over asbestos fears is linked to the council's plan to tackle surplus spaces in the borough.

Cllr Rhianon Passmore, cabinet member for education, said there was a lot of "miscommunication" circulating in the community and stressed the two are completely separate issues.

She said the 21st Century Schools programme, which could see the closure of three schools in the borough to reduce surplus spaces, involved all schools and is totally unconnected to the problems at Cwmcarn.

To read the full article please click here

Council in court for ignoring asbestos threat in school

HSE, 01/03/2013

Thurrock Council has been fined after admitting to failures in how it managed asbestos across its schools.

Basildon Crown Court heard today (1 March 2013) that despite being made aware of asbestos concerns in a boiler room at Stifford Clays Junior School, no action was taken.

A specialist contractor tasked with carrying out an asbestos survey by the council in 2004 said that dust and debris found in the boiler room containing asbestos fibres should be removed immediately under licensed conditions.

To read the full article please click here

Schools:Asbestos Parliamentary Questions

www.parliament.co.uk, 28/02/2013

Schools: Asbestos

Question

Asked by Lord Wigley

    To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will issue a warning to all schools about the potential for asbestos fibre release from warm air cabinet heaters in schools.[HL5367]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Nash): I am aware of the situation at Cwmcarn High School in Caerphilly, Wales where there were concerns about asbestos exposure and whether warm air cabinet heaters in the school were spreading fibres.

The national publicity of this case will have helped to highlight the need for all schools to make sure they are treating the management of asbestos very seriously. The investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the situation at Cwmcarn is still under way and it is appropriate to wait until they have concluded their investigation and reported before deciding what action, if any, DfE should take.

The DfE published guidance on the management of asbestos in schools in October 2012, and we will review this guidance if necessary once the outcome of the current HSE investigation is known.

To read the full article please click here

More than 1,000 North Wales council buildings contain asbestos

Gary Porter, DPW West, 25/02/2013

SCHOOLS, leisure centres and public toilets are among more than 1,000 council-owned buildings in North Wales which contain asbestos.

A Freedom of Information request by the Daily Post has revealed that all types of the dangerous substance which is now illegal to use – are found in buildings across the region including the most hazardous material, crocidolite.

To read the full article please click here

It should be easier to find out if you're exposed to risk

Cenric Clement-Evans, Western Mail, 18/02/2013

The latest developments at Cwmcarn High School, which closed in October 2012 due to risk of exposure to asbestos present in the school, highlight the need for greater transparency regarding asbestos in schools in Wales says Cenric Clement-Evans, founding member of the Right to Know: Asbestos in Schools Wales Campaign and campaigning lawyer at NewLaw Solicitors. Earlier this week, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) announced that Cwmcarn High School in Caerphilly, is an “essentially uncontaminated school” and that it does not pose as much risk as was initially thought.

This report came months after a report by Santia Asbestos Management Limited stated that airborne fibres at the school were 10 times higher than the accepted levels, and posed a “significant risk” to children and teachers alike. 

So which report should parents and teachers of the 900-pupil school believe? No wonder there is confusion amongst parents as to whether their children can safely return to Cwmcarn.

When BBC Wales' Week In Week Out programme carried out a survey of Local Authorities in October 2012, it found that 1,514 schools in Wales - approximately 85% of the total - contain asbestos.

The fact is that people working and studying in schools across Wales are still at risk. More than 228 teachers have died of mesothelioma in the UK since 1980, with at least 140 dying in the last ten years.  An unknown number of cleaners, administrative staff and caretakers have also died. It’s not known how many children have died but in the USA it is estimated that for every teacher who has died nine children will die.

What will the figures be in 10, 20 or 30 years’ time?

After Cwmcarn High was closed, the Welsh government ordered all schools to report on asbestos levels. All Local Authorities have now reported back to the Education Minister Leighton Andrews AM, but this information has yet to be made public. 

Currently, there is no law in place to ensure that parents or guardians have access to information about which schools have asbestos present. In the days of freedom of information, is this acceptable?

Shouldn’t all parents, teachers and all others working in our schools have a right to know if there is a risk from the presence of aged asbestos in school buildings?

Shouldn’t it be easy to find out whether schools have an up-to-date asbestos register and whether it is being managed responsibly?

Our Right to Know campaign is calling for the establishment of a national online schools’ asbestos database, to allow parents and teachers to be able to check with ease whether asbestos is present at any given school and view its management plan at the click of a button.

Our campaign has the backing of a number of Assembly Members across all parties, and this week for the first time since 2010, the Cross Party Group on Asbestos in the National Assembly for Wales met to discuss the issue of transparency around asbestos in schools, as prompted by the Right to Know Campaign. Supporters include cancer charity Tenovus, the Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) Unison and Brian Jones of the Campaign Asbestos Welsh Schools (CAWS).

Monmouthshire Council has also shown its support by becoming the first Local Authority to commit to openly providing its data on asbestos in schools to the public.

Our campaign group believes that people should be better informed about asbestos. Only then can they start to make informed choices and ask the right questions of local authorities, of school governors and of head teachers.

Our focus is on the prevention of future exposure to asbestos, on openness and transparency.

We are also calling for universally adopted standards of inspecting, recording and managing asbestos in our schools. The disagreement between experts over the extent of asbestos at Cwmcarn High school is serving only to bewilder and confuse those working there and the parents of the Cwmcarn children

Also as it stands, there is no formal guidance issued by the Welsh Assembly Government for the management of asbestos in schools. We believe that the Guidelines published by the Department for Education in England in the autumn of 2012 can easily be adopted in Wales. Indeed there is no earthly justification for failing to do so immediately.

It is hard to believe in this day and age the hazard of asbestos still presents a threat to the health of our children and those working in schools. It must be right that parents can easily find out whether their child’s health is potentially at risk from this hidden killer?

The example of Cwmcarn High School is not an isolated one - this will happen again in the future if we don’t address this issue now.

And that presents us with a choice.  Are we going to continue ignoring the issue of asbestos in schools and the dangers that it presents to those within the building? Or are we going to face up to the situation and put measures in place to fully understand the scale of the problem in Wales?

The Right to Know campaign urges Welsh Government not only to acknowledge the lack of information available to parents and those working in schools including teachers; but to establish a database to allow access to this information.

We need your support and ask you to sign the petition for your Right to Know.

Cwmcarn headteacher hits back at council in asbestos row

South Wales Argus, 16/02/2013

A WAR of words has broken out between Caerphilly council and the head teacher of Cwmcarn High School, which was shut due to asbestos late last year.

After a second report released at the beginning of February revealed asbestos levels could be a lot lower than was initially thought in the original Santia report which prompted the Cwmcarn building's closure, the council released a statement yesterday.

To read the full article please click here

Cwmcarn High School - Update from Caerphilly CBC

Caerphilliy County Borough Council, 15/02/2013

Residents will be aware of the recent media coverage following the publication of a new report into asbestos at Cwmcarn High School. The coverage gives the impression that the asbestos risk at the school is lower than was first thought.

The Council is keen to resolve this issue as a matter of urgency, but we want to ensure that parents and staff are fully aware of all the facts relating to the ongoing issues at the Cwmcarn site.

To read the full article please click here

Mohammed Asghar (Oscar) AM supports the Right to Know campaign

Welsh Conservatives, 12/02/2013

Mohammad Asghar AM has backed a campaign to give parents in Wales the right to know in which school buildings asbestos is present.

The Right to Know: Asbestos in Schools Wales campaign was launched in the wake of Cwmcarn High School, in Caerphilly, being closed, amidst claims that up to 900 children could have been exposed to airborne asbestos.

The campaign, supported by a number of cancer charities, unions and by Cardiff-based NewLaw Solicitors, is calling on the Welsh Government and Local Authorities to establish a schools asbestos database for Wales.

Parents would be able to access the database online, and check whether asbestos is present in any school, and whether a management plan is in place where it is present.

The Right to Know: Asbestos in Schools Wales campaign held a Cross Party Group meeting on asbestos, on 5 February, which examined the feasibility of establishing a central schools asbestos database.

Commenting on the campaign, Mohammad Asghar said:

“I back the Right to Know: Asbestos in Schools Wales campaign.

“The creation of an online register will help parents and teachers easily check whether buildings have asbestos present, and where it is, whether it is being managed responsibly. It is only fair that parents are able to check whether their children’s schools are affected by this hidden killer.

“The danger that asbestos represents to children and teachers alike should no longer be put to one side, and I will be strongly encouraging local authorities in my region to voluntarily share its data around asbestos in schools.”

Cenric Clement-Evans, asbestos expert and campaigning lawyer of NewLaw, said:

“Those working in or attending schools are at risk of developing the fatal cancer mesothelioma in the future if asbestos, which was widely used in school buildings between the 1940s and 1980s, is inadvertently disturbed.

“We need to assess the extent of the asbestos risk before we can begin to manage it. One thing is for certain; we need to better manage the legacy of asbestos in Wales for the sake of our teachers and schoolchildren.

“The problem is that whilst individual schools should have their own asbestos register, it is not clear how many schools are affected in total and the extent of the presence of asbestos.

“It is now time for a central register in Wales so we can understand precisely how widespread the risk is.”

Click here to read the full story

Asbestos: More concerns over Cwmcarn High School future

BBC Online, 08/02/2013

A company which raised concerns about asbestos leading to the closure of a Caerphilly county school has criticised the findings of further tests that say it is "essentially uncontaminated".

Cwmcarn High School shut in October after a report said asbestos posed a threat to health.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out tests which indicated the risk to pupils and teachers was low.

But firm advising the council says it still has safety concerns.

To read the full article please click here

Michael Imperato discusses the latest HSE asbestos report on Cwmcarn

Gareth Lewis, Good Morning Wales, 05/02/2013

Michael Imperato joins Gareth Lewis on Good Morning Wales to discuss the recent HSE report stating that there is less risk from exposure at Cwmcarn School than previously reported. Michael Imperato, supports the Right to Know Campaign, which is calling for a database to be introduced where parents can check if there is asbestos in their schools.

To listen to the interview click here

AMs back campaign for schools asbestos information

Tom Bodden, DPW West, 05/02/2013

A NORTH Wales AM is backing the right for parents to know about asbestos in schools.

Lib Dem AM Aled Roberts is a member of a cross-party group on asbestos which meets tonight in the Assembly for the first time since 2010.

The Right to Know: Asbestos in Schools Wales campaign is calling on the Welsh Government and councils to establish a schools asbestos database.

Parents would be able to access the database online and check if asbestos is present in any school and whether an up-to-date management plan is in place.

To read the full article please click here

Powys Council reported over asbestos details refusal

County Times, Richard Jones, 02/02/2013

Powys County Council has been reported to the Information Commissioner for refusing to release details of schools in it's area where asbestos is present - unlike other Welsh local authorities.

To read the full article please click here

NewLaw gives evidence to Welsh Government on asbestos claims

Michael Imperato, NewLaw Solicitors, 21/01/2013

Insurers say refunding NHS for asbestos sufferers is 'impractical'

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-21029535

Michael Imperato, solicitor at Cardiff-based personal injury specialists, NewLaw, gave evidence to the Welsh Government in support of The Recovery of Medical Costs for Asbestos Diseases Bill this week. 

Mr Imperato, who sits on the executive committee of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, is known as a leading asbestos lawyer in Wales.

NewLaw backs the Bill which sets out to enable the Welsh Government to recover the cost of the medical treatment in cases where a patient has received medical treatment for asbestos and legal liability for the disease has been established.

Also giving evidence was the Association of British Insurers (ABI) which is against the proposed Bill.

Michael Imperato said: “Asbestos can be deadly, causing its victims to suffer from mesothelioma and lung cancer. NewLaw is campaigning for those people and their families who have been affected by exposure to asbestos by forcing those responsible to pay out.

“If someone was to become injured in a road traffic accident in or , for example, and their claim is successful, the claimant will receive compensation and the defendant will have to cover the cost of any medical treatment to the NHS. It’s the polluter pays principal. Why should the tax payer fully fund medical treatment when it is admitted it has been caused by someone else’s fault?  We believe this system should be put in place for the terrible, potentially fatal diseases linked to asbestos exposure.

“The ABI is clearly worried about the implications of this Bill, if passed. Their arguments are misleading and do not stand up, particularly as they used the same evidence in a similar case in Scotland which they then lost at the Supreme Court. They also suggested that most of the health costs would not be recovered because they would be incurred after the individual cases settled. However, if asbestos cases are linked to the fatal cancer of mesothelioma the majority of costs are early on when the victim is being X Rayed, scanned and diagnosed.

“We sincerely hope the Welsh Government considers our evidence to help pass this Bill which will not only help ease the burden of cost on the NHS but that these funds will help provide extra help to asbestos victims and their families.”

Stroud's Amberley Ridge School headteacher David MacDonald died from industrial diseases

Cotswolds News, 16/01/2013

A CIRENCESTER headteacher died because he was regularly exposed to asbestos at the schools where he worked during his career, an inquest has heard.

David MacDonald, who led Amberley Ridge School in Stroud, died on July 2 last year, Gloucester Coroner's Court heard After he was diagnosed with the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma in August 2011, the 57-year-old made a statement outlining his career and the places where he came into contact with the deadly substance.

Right to Know spokesperson Michael Imperato commented:

"This tragic story illustrates precisely why the Right to Know: Asbestos in Schools Wales campaign is so important. Asbestos does not distinguish between school teacher, caretaker or school child. We have an Asbestos legacy here in Wales and indeed in the UK. We cannot continue to ignore it, but instead start planning now to make our schools safer places to work and stufy in. We owe it to David MacDonald and the hundreds like him."

Please sign the online petition calling for a database of all asbestos in schools in Wales

click here

To read the full article please click here

Cost of removing asbestos from schools could be millions, Plaid claims

South Wales Evening Post, 02/01/2013

COUNCILS could face bills running to millions of pounds to remove asbestos from schools, Plaid Cymru has claimed.

As a result of a Freedom of Information request Plaid obtained details of all Welsh schools where asbestos materials are present.

To read the full article please click here

Removing schools' asbestos 'would cost hundreds of millions of pounds'

Martin Shipton, 29/12/2012

Removing asbestos from schools in Wales would be likely to cost hundreds of millions of pounds, according to information released by local authorities.

The substance, at one time a mainstay of most construction projects, has been linked to serious diseases including cancer for many years.

While only two councils provided cash estimates of the cost to them, Plaid Cymru said the details it had obtained following Freedom of Information requests confirmed that the task of making all schools asbestos-free was “wholly impractical”.

To read the full article please click here

Asbestos found at council buildings

Milford & West Wales Mercury, 23/12/2012

ASBESTOS has been found at the majority of public buildings owned by Pembrokeshire County Council, a freedom of information request has revealed.
 
Only six of Pembrokeshire’s 70 schools do not contain some sort of asbestos, while a number of local libraries and leisure centres also contain some form of the material, which is now illegal to use.

To read the full article please click here

​​Response to Leighton Andrews' written statement on asbestos in Welsh Schools

28/11/2012

Cenric Clement-Evans, a campaigning lawyer on asbestos of Cardiff-based NewLaw solicitors, and leader of the 'Right To Know: Asbestos in Schools Wales' campaign, said:

"We welcome the Minister's intervention and it's good to see that he is treating the issue of asbestos in schools with the seriousness it deserves.

"It is most concerning to note that the Minister feels Local Authorities aren't properly discharging their statutory duties when it comes to the management of asbestos in schools. He says that he will be asking local authorities to ensure that Head Teachers and Governing Bodies know and understand their duties in relation to legal requirements and that they are following guidance where provided, which is laudable.

"However, whereas specific guidance on Asbestos Management in Schools was published in England in October 2012 by the Department of Education, this only applies to England and it is unclear whether Wales will have equivalent guidance. It would be good to know what guidance the Minister is expecting Local Authorities to follow and how he intends to compel them to do so.

"Asbestos is still very much a hidden killer in Wales. A recent survey found that 1,514 schools in Wales - approximately 85% of the total - contain asbestos and people working and studying in these buildings across Wales remain at risk. More than 228 teachers have died of mesothelioma in the UK since 1980, with at least 140 dying in the last ten years.

"Given the concerns that have now been raised about how Local Authorities are managing asbestos, we believe it is more important than ever that parents have access to completely transparent information on how asbestos – where present – is being managed in their childrens' schools.

We are calling on the Welsh Government and Local Authorities to establish a national online schools asbestos database. Our campaign, which is backed by cancer charities and a number of unions, believes the database should hold information on all school buildings in Wales. Anybody should be able to search to see whether an asbestos register is held for those buildings, along with contact details of the Duty Holder, or person responsible for managing the asbestos.

"Now, more than ever, it's crucial we know which Local Authorities are performing well and which ones are failing in their statutory duties as the Minister has indicated is the case."

Short Debate in the Senedd on Asbestos in Schools

BBC News Democracy Live, 27/11/2012

Nick Ramsay puts foward a debate on asbestos in schools to the Education Minister Leighton Andrews AM and the Right to Know: Asbestos in Schools Campaign and it's aims.

Click here to see the debate

Asbestos in Schools, Written Statement by The Welsh Government

Leighton Andrews, Minister for Education and Skills, 27/11/2012

The purpose of my statement today is to respond to the recent asbestos issues at Cwmcarn High School in Caerphilly, South Wales and the wider issue of asbestos in schools in Wales.

I recognise the very serious nature of recent events culminating in the closure of Cwmcarn High school due to the discovery of asbestos materials in the school. 

Health Risks

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral and was used commercially for about 150 years. In particular, it was used extensively as a building material in Great Britain from the 1950’s through to the mid-1980’s. Many schools built, extended or refurbished in that period are likely to contain some form of asbestos. There are now very stringent statutory controls over the use or interference with asbestos or materials containing it. Asbestos materials in good condition are safe unless asbestos fibres become airborne, which happens when materials become damaged.

Asbestos fibres when they become airborne, and are inhaled, can cause serious diseases. Breathing in high levels of asbestos fibres increases the risk of disease. Regular exposure, which may be experienced by maintenance/construction workers during the course of their work, also increases the risk.

In briefing my department the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advises that the available data suggests little significant risk at very low level; testing for levels of fibres in the air in buildings where asbestos is properly managed shows that the release of fibres into the air is very low; and provided asbestos is managed properly, teachers and pupils are not likely to be at risk in the course of their normal activities in Great Britain.

The HSE in its briefing also advises that there is no evidence to show that rates of asbestos related cancer amongst teachers are significantly greater than in the Great Britain population as a whole. A research study published in 2009, commissioned jointly by Cancer Research UK and HSE and led by an independent academic, looked at the full set of jobs 

individuals did during their working lives (rather than the just the last job). This study reinforces the view that teachers do not stand out as a high risk group. This case control study shows that those who worked with asbestos products in the construction industry during the 1960s and 1970s now have particularly high risks of mesothelima; an asbestos specific disease. The HSE advises that those most at risk to exposure to asbestos work in the construction/maintenance trades.

Click here to read the full Statement

UNISON Supports

UNISON, 27/11/2012

UNISON Cymru/Wales has become a campaign partner in the ‘Asbestos – Your Right to Know’ campaign, which is calling for the creation of a central accessible register of asbestos schools in Wales. The issue of asbestos in Welsh schools, which will be raised twice this week within the National Assembly for Wales, is becoming increasingly important as more is understood about its’ effects. Dominic MacAskill, UNISON Cymru/Wales head of local government, said: “UNISON is really pleased to be a part of the ‘Your Right to Know’ campaign. We fully support the disclosure of information about asbestos in schools for parents, pupils, and the schools workforce. “Approximately 100 people die each year as a result of exposure to asbestos and that is 100 people too many. UNISON will continue to campaign for the rights of workers and the rights of our future generations to be safe in schools. “UNISON has an arrangement with our solicitors, Thompsons, to register members who believe that they have been exposed to asbestos and would have a legal claim if they developed a related illness. “We are in full support of steps being taken by the Welsh Government to introduce an Asbestos Wales Bill to recoup the costs of asbestos related illness and death, but we are calling for the Welsh Government to go one step further and make details of asbestos schools in Wales public. “We know the dangers associated with asbestos and we must do all we can to minimise those risks.”

View the UNISON web site

BBC Radio Wales, Good Evening Wales

BBC Radio Wales' Good Evening Wales, 19/11/2012

NewLaw's Cenric Clement-Evans interviewed live on BBC Radio Wales' Good Evening Wales programme, following the publication of a report into asbestos at Cwmcarn High School in Caerphilly which found that asbestos had airborne fibres ten times over accepted levels.

Click here to listen to the interview

You and Yours, Radio 4, 15th November 2012 Right To Know Asbestos in Schools Wales

BBC Radio 4, You and Yours, 15/11/2012

Cenric Clement-Evans, campaigning solicitor from leading law firm NewLaw Solicitors interviewed on Radio 4's You and Yours programme about the 'Right To Know: Asbestos In Schools Wales' campaign.
Thursday 15th November 2012.

Click here to listen to the interview

UNISON Cymru/Wales has issued a response to the recent asbestos scare in Cwmcarn High School, Caerphilly County.

UNISON Statement on Asbestos in Schools, 14/11/2012

Dominic MacAskill UNISON Wales Head of Local Government issued the following statement:

The majority of Welsh schools contain asbestos. Asbestos was used as a building material from the 1950s until the mid-1980s, often in fireproofing and insulation. But asbestos can become dangerous if it begins to deteriorate or is damaged. The fibres can be released and breathed in. This can lead to lung complaints including mesothelioma - a form cancer that is almost exclusively caused by exposure to asbestos.

To read the full article please click here

Senedd Questions

13/11/2012

Nick Ramsay: Will the First Minister give details of the Welsh Government’s plans to tackle the problem of asbestos in schools. OAQ(4)0767(FM)

The First Minister: We have requested confirmation that authorities are undertaking their statutory duties in accordance with the legislation, including plans for the management of asbestos.

Nick Ramsay: As I am sure you are aware, there is concern that many schools in Wales contain some degree of asbestos, and it was once thought that it was safe to leave it in situ, but that is not the current line of thinking. Do you agree with me that parents have a right to know the level of asbestos if there is asbestos in their children’s school, and that an online database developed in partnership between the Welsh Government and local authorities in Wales would help to deliver this?

The First Minister: Each local authority has an asbestos management plan in place. I have no doubt that local authorities will be looking to manage asbestos-containing material, as it is called, in line with current legislation and current thinking in terms of the health issues.

Simon Thomas: I would like to understand, First Minister, whether you object to people being told publicly about any asbestos in schools.

The First Minister: It is a matter for local authorities to decide whether they want to notify people. However, it is important that people should not think that the presence of asbestos means that there is a risk to children. It is extremely important that the background is explained if those details are given.

Monmouth AM backs school asbestos campaign

Chepstow Free Press Online, 09/11/2012

A MONMOUTHSHIRE AM is backing a new campaign to give parents in Wales the right to knowin which school buildings asbestos is present.

The Right to Know: Asbestos in Schools Wales campaign was launched after the recent alert at Cwmcarn High School.

The campaign was launched by Cardiff-based law firm New Law with the support of a number of cancer charities and AM Nick Ramsay is supporting it.

He will chair a new crossparty group which will examine the feasibility of establishing a central schools asbestos database.

Parents would be able to access it online, check whether asbestos is present in any school and whether a management plan is in place where it is present.

Mr Ramsay said: “It is only fair that parents are able to check whether their childrens’ schools are affected by this hidden killer.

“The danger that asbestos represents to children and teachers alike should no longer be put to one side, and we will be strongly encouraging local authorities to voluntarily share their data around asbestos in schools.”

Monmouthshire council is the first local authority to sign up.

To read the full article please click here

Monmouthshire AM backs Asbestos in Schools campaign

South Wales Argus, 09/11/2012

A MONMOUTHSHIRE AM is backing a new campaign to give parents in Wales the right to knowin which school buildings asbestos is present.

The Right to Know: Asbestos in Schools Wales campaign was launched after the recent alert at Cwmcarn High School.

The campaign was launched by Cardiff-based law firm New Law with the support of a number of cancer charities and AM Nick Ramsay is supporting it.

He will chair a new crossparty group which will examine the feasibility of establishing a central schools asbestos database.

Parents would be able to access it online, check whether asbestos is present in any school and whether a management plan is in place where it is present.

Mr Ramsay said: “It is only fair that parents are able to check whether their childrens’ schools are affected by this hidden killer.

“The danger that asbestos represents to children and teachers alike should no longer be put to one side, and we will be strongly encouraging local authorities to voluntarily share their data around asbestos in schools.”

Monmouthshire council is the first local authority to sign up.

Click here to read the full story

Questions to First Minister

06/11/2012

Questions to First Minister:

Mohammad Asghar: What is the Welsh Government doing to improve the quality of school buildings in ?

The First Minister: The twenty-first century schools programme underpins our commitment to improve the quality of the schools estate, and we have committed £700 million over the next seven years to support the programme.

Mohammad Asghar: Thank you for that answer, First Minister. The discovery of asbestos has led to the closure of , with plans to relocate the school temporarily to Ebbw Vale at a cost of nearly £1.5 million. A report in the South Wales Argus revealed that most of the 265 schools in Gwent contain asbestos, including 53 in alone. Since asbestos in the single greatest cause of work-related deaths in the , will the First Minister commit his Government to implementing a programme for the safe removal of asbestos from Welsh schools, starting with those most at risk, as a matter of urgency, please?

The First Minister: It is a matter for local authorities to ensure that schools are safe, but my understanding is that, if asbestos is kept in situ, it is not in itself dangerous. It becomes dangerous if it is cut. Different types of asbestos are more dangerous than others, though they are all dangerous, and diseases such as mesothelioma result from asbestos dust. It is important to stress that the fact that a building has asbestos in it does not mean that it is necessarily unsafe, although it is right to say that, over time, it would be good practice to replace asbestos in our schools.

Teachers Celebrate Asbestos Victory

Peter Lazenby, Morning Star, 05/11/2012

Asbestos: Call for routine tests after Cwmcarn closure

BBC News, Wales, 30/10/2012

UK Government Issues Asbestos Guidance to Schools and Colleges

JUAC, 30/10/2012

Campaign for national asbestos in schools database launched

Right to Know, 30/10/2012

A new campaign is being launched to give parents in Wales the right to know in which school buildings asbestos is present. 

The Parents’ Right to Know campaign has been launched in the week Cwmcarn High School, in Caerphilly, closed, amidst claims that up to 900 children could have been exposed to airborne asbestos. 

The campaign, Right to Know Asbestos in Schools Wales was launched this week and is supported by Cardiff-based law firm NewLaw, and is a call for the Welsh Government and Local Authorities to establish a schools asbestos database for Wales.

Parents would be able to access the database online, and check whether asbestos is present in any school, and whether a management plan is in place where it is present.

It is estimated that over 300,000 children in Wales are still exposed by the risk posed by asbestos in schools across Wales. Currently, parents do not have the ability to easily access information on whether or not asbestos is present in their child’s school.

The campaign has received the backing of Monmouthshire County Council, the first local authority in Wales to commit to openly providing its data on asbestos in schools to the public.

In reaction to the closure of Cwmcarn High School, Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, earlier this week called on the Welsh Government to conduct a national audit of asbestos in schools.

The Parents’ Right to Know campaign is being backed by Nick Ramsay, Assembly Member for Monmouth and Shadow Minister for Business, Enterprise & Technology. He will be chairing a new All Party Group on asbestos which will examine the feasibility of establishing a central schools asbestos database.

He said:

“It is hard to believe in this day and age the scourge of asbestos still presents a threat to the health of our parents and teachers. An online register will help parents and teachers easily check whether buildings have asbestos present, and where it is present, whether it is being managed responsibly.  It is only fair that parents are able to check whether their childrens’ schools are affected  by this hidden killer.

“The danger that asbestos represents to children and teachers alike should no longer be put to one side, and we will be strongly encouraging local authorities to voluntarily share their data around asbestos in schools.

“I look forward to working closely with colleagues from across the parties in the Assembly to establish this register.”

Cenric Clement-Evans, asbestos expert and campaigning lawyer of NewLaw, said:

"Those working in or attending schools are at risk of developing the fatal cancer mesothelioma in the future if asbestos, which was widely used in school buildings between the 1940s and 1980s, is inadvertently disturbed.

"We need to assess the extent of the asbestos risk before we can begin to manage it. One thing is for certain; we need to better manage the legacy of asbestos in Wales for the sake of our teachers and schoolchildren.

“The example of Cwmcarn High School is not an isolated one, as we believe that around 75% of Welsh schools may contain asbestos. The problem is that whilst individual schools should have their own asbestos register, it is not clear how many schools are affected in total and the extent of the presence of asbestos.

“It is now time for a central register in Wales so we can understand precisely how widespread the risk is.”

JUAC - campaign supporters

JUAC, 29/10/2012

Campaign group demands register on asbestos in Welsh schools

Daily Post, 27/10/2012

PARENTS in Wales should have the right to know if there is asbestos in their child’s school, a new campaign claimed yesterday.

The ‘Right to Know’ group launched an online petition after 900 pupils could have been exposed to air-borne asbestos in Cwmcarn high school, Caerphilly.

The school was shut last week amid public health concerns.

Welsh education minister Leighton Andrews then demanded monitoring reports for every local authority in Wales on the status of asbestos in their schools by yesterday. The Welsh Government said it was now evaluating the findings.

But the Right to Know campaign said such information should be freely available to parents.

The campaign was launched by Cardiff-based law firm NewLaw calling on the Welsh Government and councils to set up a schools asbestos database for Wales.

Parents would be able to access the information online to check if asbestos is present in any school, and whether a management plan is in place where it is present in line with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.

The Daily Post reported last year that councils were monitoring around 300 schools across North Wales where asbestos was used in the construction. Regular checks are required by law.

The campaign said that more than 300,000 children in Wales are still exposed by the risk.

Cenric Clement-Evans, an asbestos expert and lawyer at NewLaw, said: “Those working in or attending schools are at risk of developing the fatal cancer mesothelioma in the future if asbestos, which was widely used in school buildings between the 1940s and 1980s, is inadvertently disturbed. We believe that around 75% of Welsh schools may contain asbestos.

“It is now time for a central register in Wales so we can understand precisely how widespread the risk is.”

Campaign spokesperson Sara Robinson said: “This isn’t about scaremongering, it is about allowing parents the information they need to understand the problem.

An online petition on the National Assembly website had so far attracted 300 signatures from across Wales and beyond.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Local authorities or schools governing bodies in Wales have a legal responsibility to have up-to-date records on the location and condition of asbestos containing material and that appropriate management plans are in place to detail how the risks from these materials will be managed.”

To read the full article please click here

Cwmcarn school asbestos: Pupils to move to Ebbw Vale

BBC News, South East Wales, 23/10/2012

Plans to move all 900 pupils from a high school have been approved after asbestos was discovered by workmen.

The decision was taken at a special meeting of Caerphilly councillors a week after problems came to light at Cwmcarn High School.

The children will be educated at Coleg Gwent's campus in Ebbw Vale as a temporary measure from Monday, 5 November.

The packed meeting held in public heard that the move will cost £1.4m.

Earlier, the head teacher, Jacqui Peplinski said she wanted to relocate all the pupils and staff to another site.

'Ethos and identity'

In a message on its website, she said moving would keep "the school's ethos and identity".

The school was shut on Friday, 15 October after a structural report identified asbestos in the main block.

To read the full article please click here

Monmouthshire AM backs new campaign calling for national schools asbestos register

Welsh Conservatives, 23/10/2012

A new campaign is being launched to give parents in Wales the right to know in which school buildings asbestos is present.

The Right to Know: Asbestos in Schools Wales campaign has been launched in the week Cwmcarn High School, in Caerphilly, closed, amidst claims that up to 900 children could have been exposed to airborne asbestos.

The campaign, launched by Cardiff-based law firm NewLaw, is calling on the Welsh Government and Local Authorities to establish a schools asbestos database for Wales

Parents would be able to access the database online, and check whether asbestos is present in any school, and whether a management plan is in place where it is present. 

The Right to Know: Asbestos in Schools Wales campaign is being backed by Nick Ramsay, Assembly Member for Monmouth and Shadow Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science. He will be chairing a Cross Party Group on asbestos which will examine the feasibility of establishing a central schools asbestos database.

It is estimated that over 300,000 children in Wales are still exposed by the risk posed by asbestos in schools across Wales. Currently, parents do not have the ability to easily access information on whether or not asbestos is present in their child’s school.

The campaign has received the backing of Monmouthshire County Council, the first local authority in Wales to commit to openly providing its data on asbestos in schools to the public.

In reaction to the closure of Cwmcarn High School, Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, last week called on the Welsh Government to conduct a national audit of asbestos in schools.

Commenting on the campaign, Nick Ramsay AM said:

“It is hard to believe in this day and age the scourge of asbestos still presents a threat to the health of our parents and teachers. An online register will help parents and teachers easily check whether buildings have asbestos present, and where it is, whether it is being managed responsibly.  It is only fair that parents are able to check whether their children’s’ schools are affected  by this hidden killer. 

“The danger that asbestos represents to children and teachers alike should no longer be put to one side, and we will be strongly encouraging local authorities to voluntarily share their data around asbestos in schools.

“I look forward to working closely with colleagues from across the parties in the Assembly to establish this register.” 

Cenric Clement-Evans, asbestos expert and campaigning lawyer of NewLaw, said:

"Those working in or attending schools are at risk of developing the fatal cancer mesothelioma in the future if asbestos, which was widely used in school buildings between the 1940s and 1980s, is inadvertently disturbed. 

"We need to assess the extent of the asbestos risk before we can begin to manage it. One thing is for certain; we need to better manage the legacy of asbestos in Wales for the sake of our teachers and schoolchildren.

“The example of Cwmcarn High School is not an isolated one, as we believe that around 75% of Welsh schools may contain asbestos. This will happen again in the future if we don’t address this issue now.  

“The problem is that whilst individual schools should have their own asbestos register, it is not clear how many schools are affected in total and the extent of the presence of asbestos.

“It is now time for a central register in Wales so we can understand precisely how widespread the risk is."

To read the full article please click here

Cwmcarn school asbestos: demolition suggested by contractor

BBC News, South East Wales, 19/10/2012

A specialist contractor has advised Caerphilly council to consider demolishing a school closed last week because of asbestos, it has emerged.

The 900-pupil Cwmcarn High School shut last Friday after workmen spotted the potentially hazardous material.

It partially reopened on Friday with sixthformers reporting to the performing arts centre in the morning.

Year 11 pupils return on Monday and Year 10 pupils on Tuesday. Lessons for other pupils resume on 5 November.

The locations for the remaining pupils' lessons are still to be confirmed.

Caerphilly council has defended its actions in closing the school immediately on receipt of a structural report last Friday which identified asbestos.

The report recommended an immediate notice of prohibited access, although the risk to students and staff from fibres of damaged asbestos was said to be low.

The council has also revealed that the specialist contractors who wrote the report also advised it to "look at the abatement/demolition of Cwmcarn High School, due to the implicated costs of continuing to operate without further risk of exposure".

To read the full article please click here

Parents, pupils and staff have a right to know about asbestos in their schools - Kirsty Williams

Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, 16/10/2012

Schools warned of asbestos risk

The Shields Gazette, 11/10/2012

ASBESTOS campaigners are stepping up an awareness drive to protect children and teachers from the deadly dust in South Tyneside schools.

Most schools built before 2000 contain asbestos and experts say a high proportion of deaths from mesothelioma can be linked to their premises.

There are almost 2,500 new cases of mesothelioma in the UK each year and this number is expected to rise by 100 to 120 annually until at least 2015, with an estimated 250 to 300 of these new cases each year in the Northern region.

For decades, asbestos products were used extensively throughout industry and as building materials.

The Northern TUC set up the Asbestos Support and Campaign Group, which helps sufferers of all asbestos-related diseases, and has campaigned for pleural plaques compensation.

Now it has teamed up with teaching unions NASUWT, NUT and ATL, along with GMB and Unison, to raise awareness about the very real dangers of the material in schools with a new information pamphlet – Asbestos in Schools: What teachers, support staff, governors and heads need to know about the hidden killer within our schools.

The publication has won the support of Hebburn-based campaigner Anne Craig, whose husband, David, died of mesothelioma, after being exposed to asbestos fibres decades before.

To read the full article please click here

Asbestos found in valleys schools

BBC News, 24/08/2012

Asbestos has been discovered at seven schools and one community centre in a south Wales council area.

Staff from Rhondda Cynon Taf council are working to try to remove the substance from the schools before the start of the new term in September.

The remedial work on the buildings will cost the council £4m.

Pupils at one primary school - Heol Y Celyn in Rhydyfelin, Pontypridd - will not return to school until 11 September because of additional problems.

The council said the situation at Heol Y Celyn had been further complicated by a serious leak in the infants building, which left classrooms under four inches of water.

To read the full article please click here

Asbestos killed Blackwood woman - coroner

Natalie Crockett, South Wales Argus, 10/02/2012

A FORMER school cleaner and caretaker died as a result of exposure to asbestos throughout her career, a court heard yesterday.

Brenda Ann Butcher, 65, of Blackwood, was diagnosed with the cancer mesothelioma on March 7 last year after doctors discovered a tumour on her lung. She died on April 26.

Gwent Coroner David Bowen recorded a verdict of death from industrial disease.

The Newport hearing heard how between 1978 and 1988 Mrs Butcher was employed by Caerphilly council initially as a lollipop lady but went on to work as a cleaner and caretaker at Pengam Primary School.

In a statement written before she died which was read to the court, Mrs Butcher described how she was responsible for cleaning the heating system, including a boiler and pipes, which were lagged with asbestos. She told how when she cleaned, dust would fill the air and she would breathe it in.

The non-smoker said she was never told the dangers the potentially deadly substance posed, nor was she given any protective equipment such as a face mask when working with it.

The court heard Mrs Butcher worked in a number of places where asbestos was present throughout her career, including factories in Newport and the Gossard underwear factory in Pontllanfraith, before she gave up work to care for husband in 1988.

A post mortem examination found her death was as a result of mesothelioma. However, tests carried out by Dr Alan Gibbs concluded the level of asbestos in Mrs Butcher’s lungs was not elevated beyond background level.

In his opinion, there was not enough evidence to suggest it was asbestos related.

But Mr Bowen said he was satisfied that on a balance of probabilities Mrs Butcher’s exposure to the substance in the work place was the cause.

He added it was not the purpose of the inquest to find out which workplace contributed.

To read the full article please click here

Asbestos in schools a “national scandal”

Greg Lewis, Freelance Journalist/Producer, 02/02/2012

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health says the presence of lethal dust fibres in school buildings is a “national scandal”.

In a new report, it warns that 75 per cent of state schools are exposing children, teachers and other staff to the carcinogenic material.

Jim Sheridan MP, Chair of the All-Party Group, said: “This is a national scandal. Urgent action is needed to prevent more pupils, teachers and other staff being exposed to this deadly killer dust. We need both far greater awareness of the risks that this material poses and a programme for its phased removal.”

The report comes after more than 140 teachers died from the rare asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma in the past 10 years, with research in the US suggesting over 100 people will die every year in the UK because of exposure at school.

US researchers suggest that for every death of a teacher from asbestos-related diseases, nine children will die. Asbestos-related diseases can take many years to develop so children are more vulnerable over their lifetime.

The Westminster All-Party Group’s report recommends the UK government should start a programme for the phased removal of asbestos from all schools, with priority given to those schools where the asbestos is considered to be most dangerous or damaged.

It also recommends a policy of openness in which parents, teachers and support staff are annually updated on the presence of asbestos in their schools and the measures that are being taken to manage it.

To read the full article please click here

Asbestos: New blow to victims of a shameful legacy

Jonathan Owen, The Independent, 29/01/2012

The Government has deliberately excluded asbestos from an unprecedented review of the condition of the country's schools because it knows that tackling the risks to school children and teachers could cost hundreds of millions, critics claim.

Campaigners reacted with fury last night as it emerged a year-long survey of England's 23,000 schools will examine every aspect of buildings – from classroom decoration to whether fire alarms and toilets are in working order – but will specifically exclude asbestos, the most serious threat of all to staff and pupils.

To read the full article please click here

Councils monitor asbestos in North Wales schools

Tom Bodden, DPW West, 15/03/2011

Asbestos time bomb in Wales classrooms

Abby Alford, Western Mail, 27/07/2009

HUNDREDS of thousands of Welsh children attend lessons in schools containing potentially-deadly asbestos.

More than 377,000 youngsters are exposed to the risk posed by floor tiles, ceiling tiles and dozens of other common materials every day, an investigation carried out by the Western Mail has revealed.

The NASUWT teaching union has called the figures – obtained under the Freedom of Information Act – “very worrying” and now plans to call on all local authorities to begin a complete removal programme at the earliest opportunity.

Monmouth AM Nick Ramsay, who co-hosted a conference on asbestos at the National Assembly earlier this year, said: “Asbestos is a hidden killer and we must eliminate it from our schools.

“It is frankly unacceptable that teachers and children are being exposed to this deadly material on a daily basis.

“Action needs to be taken now to tackle the asbestos timebomb in schools across Wales.”

To read the full article please click here

School closes after asbestos find

BBC News, South East Wales, 07/04/2006

A school for children with learning difficulties has been closed temporarily after asbestos was found in classroom ceiling tiles.

Parents and guardians of pupils at Maesgwyn Special School in Cwmdare have been told to keep their children home from school following the discovery.

Tests have shown the levels of asbestos are below the maximum level allowed.

But a programme of work is under way to remove the asbestos in order to ensure the safety of the pupils and staff.

Letters have been sent to the parents and guardians of the 108 pupils aged between 11 and 18 explaining the situation in detail.

A spokesman for Rhondda Cynon Taf Council said material containing asbestos was discovered in some of the ceiling tiles during a survey.

To read the full article please click here