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Managing asbestos in your educational establishment

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​The Joint Union Asbestos Committee is a non-party political group, of which NAHT is a member, that seeks to protect education workers and children from the dangers of asbestos by raising awareness and campaigning for improved asbestos management in schools. Our long-term goal is the removal of all asbestos in schools, starting with the most dangerous first.

Twenty years on from the ban of asbestos, asbestos in schools remains a national problem, with the latest figures from the Department for Education estimating that 83.5% of schools in England contain asbestos. 

The government believes that, in most cases, it’s best to leave asbestos in place and seek to manage it. However, educational buildings are unlike other workplaces because the majority of their occupants are children who are known to be more vulnerable to asbestos exposure. In addition, it is much more difficult to manage asbestos in schools than in other workplaces. This is because normal school activities routinely disturb asbestos. Much of the asbestos in schools is old and in a deteriorating condition, which makes it even harder, or even impossible, to avoid fibres being released.

As such, the JUAC is clear that significant government investment is needed to fund the phased removal of asbestos from all school buildings, with the priority being given to those schools where the asbestos is considered to be most dangerous or damaged, and the JUAC is campaigning to bring this about.

In the meantime, the group aims to find ways to support those who have a duty to manage asbestos and/or have the day-to-day management delegated to them, as much as possible. As such, the JUAC has developed a short presentation aimed at duty-holders and/or those who undertake the day-to-day management of asbestos to support them in meeting their responsibilities as effectively as possible.

The presentation covers the following:

  • The risks
  • Information about the 'duty holder'
  • What school leaders should do
  • Outlines the core steps that should be undertaken to manage asbestos effectively

The presentation is intended to be a short introduction to the topic, and it shouldn't be considered a comprehensive guidance document. We would suggest that members read this alongside other guidance, including the Department for Education's guidance 'Asbestos Management in Schools

About the Joint Union Asbestos Committee

Founded in 2010, the Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) is a non-party political campaign.  JUAC protects education workers by raising awareness of asbestos in schools and promoting improved management of asbestos in education sector buildings.  JUAC aims to make UK schools and colleges safe from the dangers of asbestos, both for staff and pupils.

The JUAC members are representatives from the trade unions ASCL, ATL, GMB, NAHT, NASUWT, NUT, UNISON, Unite the Union and Voice.

First published 14 July 2020