In recent days, more than 150 UK schools have been found to contain reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC). RAAC is a form of concrete used in roofing and wall construction. However, the substance is prone to sudden failure with age, particularly after its 30-year life span, causing the closure of several schools and calls for immediate safety work to be undertaken.
RAAC was most commonly used in construction between the 1950s and the 1990s, meaning asbestos was often used in conjunction with the material in many affected schools. In an interview with Sky, National Education General Secretary Daniel Keeble shared that the risks to children in schools are ‘high’ when asbestos exposure and RAAC are mixed.
The most recent data published by the Department of Education in 2019 highlighted that asbestos is present in 81% of England schools, despite the substance having been banned in 1999. Meanwhile, approximately 300,000 non-domestic UK buildings still contain asbestos.
Overall, 14,900 schools were built when RAAC was used in widespread construction, meaning many schools are likely to contain both.
As a result of the structural risk posed by RAAC, many UK schools have been forced to close to undergo immediate structural repair.
NASUWT teaching union urged immediate action to remove asbestos from school buildings in July and there have been ongoing calls for asbestos to be removed from non-domestic buildings for several years, including a work and pensions select committee report that urged the government to introduce a 40-year deadline for asbestos removal in such settings, with a focus on high-risk environments such as schools in April 2022.
In addition, all public buildings are required to have an asbestos register identifying the location of the material, yet the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has raised concerns regarding non-compliance.
With the ongoing issue of RAAC in schools, affected schools will now be supported by a dedicated caseworker, however, it is so far unclear as to how the potential asbestos exposure will be managed. Read the government’s statement regarding RAAC here.
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Asbestos Exposure in Schools
The HSE has found that the number of female teachers dying from asbestos-related lung cancer is increasing. Furthermore, there were more than 5,000 asbestos-related deaths in 2019 across the UK.
At Bridge McFarland, our experienced personal injury solicitors have extensive experience in supporting clients in achieving compensation following a diagnosis of an asbestos-related disease, namely mesothelioma, asbestosis, asbestos-related lung cancer or pleural thickening.
If you require advice and support today, either for yourself or on behalf of a family member, please do not hesitate to get in touch on 0800 987 8800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, fill in this contact form.
For more information, please visit our dedicated Asbestos Awareness site.