School Asbestos Concern
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) findings highlight some schools are not fully asbestos aware and that there is a:
- Lack of staff awareness
- Lack of training when the school employee new staff (Change of Head Teachers, Business Managers or Site Managers)
- Schools must have an Asbestos Management Plan - Following this plan ensures full compliance
- Schools must ensure staff are Asbestos Aware - Following this training will reduce non-compliance
- Schools must contact the Asbestos Unit prior to any works commencing -
Obtaining the correct advice will reduce exposure to asbestos
- CBMDC Asbestos Unit has produced an Asbetos Management Plan for all schools
- CBMDC Asbestos Unit provide Asbestos Awareness Training for existing and new staff
- CBMDC Asbestos Unit policy that they will carry out surveys in schools (Maintained and Diocese schools), prior to any works commencing
Managing Asbestos in Your School
Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 places a duty to manage asbestos in non-domestic premises. The legal responsibility to manage asbestos is with the Duty Holder.
The Duty Holder is the budget holder, employer or person in control of a premises (e.g. Chief Executive, School Governors, Trustees, Employer etc.). For the majority of schools/sites, the Duty Holder will be the Employer/Council. Where the budget for building
management is delegated to the school/site the duty to manage asbestos will be shared between the Council and the school/site.
To comply with Regulation 4 the Council’s Asbestos Management Unit has produced an Asbestos Management Plan which includes the Premises Asbestos Register. The Asbestos Register lists the asbestos containing materials identified following an asbestos survey.
The Asbestos Management Plan is presented to the Duty Holder to enable them to manage asbestos on site. The Duty Holder will normally be the head teacher in Council controlled schools and the building custodian for Council operated buildings. Using the Asbestos
Management Plan the Building Custodian/Head Teacher must manage/monitor all Asbestos Containing Materials identified in the Asbestos Register and ensure that everyone who needs to know about asbestos is told about its presence i.e. maintenance works, contractors,
site staff etc. Any damage or deterioration to Asbestos Containing Materials must be brought to the attention of the ASBESTOS MANAGEMENT UNIT.
Where a School/Site is outside the control of the Council the relevant Duty Holder needs to ensure they are complying with
Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.
Asbestos Management Unit
The Asbestos Management Unit is responsible for managing asbestos within all Council occupied buildings and ensures that the Council complies with all HSE Legislation relating to asbestos.
Bradford Council has an
Asbestos Policy (07 Asbestos Policy) that states how Bradford Council will deal with and manage any asbestos within its’ buildings.
As part of the Council’s overall Asbestos Management Strategy the Asbestos Management Unit has produced Asbestos Management Plans (Asbestos Management Plan Information) for all operational buildings, which contain all the information needed for the Building
Custodian to manage asbestos in their building.
The Asbestos Management Unit provide the following services:-
Advice on management and removal of asbestos containing materials.
Identification of suspect asbestos containing materials.
Arrangements for asbestos removals.
Maintenance of the
Council’s Asbestos Data and Documents.
The Asbestos Management Unit is the first point of contact for advice and information on asbestos or to report any asbestos issues/incidents.
If in Doubt ASK.
The Asbestos Unit can be contacted on 01274 433562 or 01274 431000 during Out of Hours
Advice to users of Bunsen burner wire gauzes that may contain asbestos
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has become aware of two suppliers of scientific equipment that have supplied mesh gauzes with asbestos-containing centres. The material on the gauzes is used for its heat-resistant properties. The gauzes are conventionally
used with tripods and Bunsen burners as shown in the photograph.
Although steps have been taken to prevent further supply by the suppliers identified so far, this will have implications for schools, colleges and other facilities which use these mesh gauzes.
Any gauzes that contain asbestos should not be used, and they must be safely disposed of as asbestos waste. As a precaution, if you are unclear as to what any gauze coating is made of then you should assume that it contains asbestos and
follow the instructions below.
What is the associated risk from asbestos with use of the material?
Analysis of the gauze material by HSE has identified that it is fibrous in nature and contains some asbestos, which is a known hazardous substance. Any risk from asbestos depends on the extent of asbestos fibre release and inhalation of these very fine fibres.
The risk from asbestos in the gauze material from normal tripod use will generally be extremely low for several reasons including the following:
- the material is predominantly non-asbestos
- there is very limited physical contact with the material during use (eg essentially placing items on top)
- any contact is light and momentary
As a result, any free fibre release into the air will be minimal for normal use. However, the material is soft and crumbly and some small particles or fragments may detach on occasions including during use. Particles and debris may also break off over time
through abrasion or impact in storage. These particles and fragments do not represent an airborne risk.
As a precautionary measure, and in line with the general legal requirement to prevent exposure to asbestos, the gauzes should be disposed of (see below). Any debris in containers or boxes should be carefully cleaned up and also disposed of.
What do I need to do?
Although suppliers identified so far will be contacting everyone they have supplied, it is advised that schools should initially adopt a precautionary approach as gauzes containing asbestos cannot be easily distinguished from those that do not. As such,
teaching establishments should not handle, use or move their current stock of wire/mesh gauzes until they have checked with their supplier to find out whether they are likely to contain asbestos.
Action will need to be taken where asbestos content is confirmed or cannot be ruled out. The gauzes must be taken out of use and disposed of in accordance with relevant published guidance (see below).
Where non-asbestos-containing gauzes are stored directly alongside asbestos-containing gauzes, these should be treated as contaminated waste. Other equipment (such as clay triangles, Bunsen burners etc) which has been stored with asbestos-containing gauzes
can be wiped clean with a damp cloth if there is any visible dust present. The cloth should be disposed of as contaminated waste.
The work to dispose of asbestos-containing gauzes and waste items is a low-risk activity, but it still needs precautions and controls in line with legal requirements. The work should only be done by people who are confident that they can follow the relevant
guidance and have access to the right equipment. Assistance can be obtained from a specialist asbestos contractor (eg a contractor holding an asbestos work licence from HSE) but this is not a legal requirement in this situation.
Where possible, the gauzes stored in a container should be disposed of in that container to prevent further handling of individual gauzes. The container and gauzes should be treated as asbestos-containing waste.
Where this is not possible, gauzes should be carefully wetted using a hand-held spray bottle containing water with a small quantity of detergent (eg washing-up liquid) and handled carefully to prevent any further damage. They should be placed in a suitable
heavy-duty polythene waste bag which is then placed in a second bag (ie double bagged) and labelled accordingly, in line with HSE’s Asbestos
Essentials Guidance EM9 Disposal of asbestos waste .
Use caution as the corners of the gauze may be sharp and could penetrate the polythene, so it may be more suitable to place the gauzes into a container such as a rigid, sealable plastic container before placing into suitable waste bags.
Any excess water (from spray) and dust/debris from the gauzes should be wiped up using a damp rag and the rag should be disposed of in the same manner, in line with the Asbestos
Essentials guidance EM7 Using damp rags to clean surfaces of minor asbestos contamination .
As this is low-risk and short-duration work, respiratory protective equipment (RPE), ie a mask or respirator, is not legally required. However, dutyholders may wish to adopt a precautionary approach regarding the use of RPE and personal protective clothing.
Where gauzes are damaged and/or there is resultant debris, a disposable coverall and a suitable dust mask (eg FFP3 or half mask with a P3 filter) could be worn. If a mask is used, the person should be face-fit tested and trained in its use. Full details are
in Asbestos Essentials Guidance EM6 Personal protective equipment
(including RPE) .
Disposal of waste after clean-up
Once the immediate clean-up and containment has been completed, the next stage is disposal. The material must be classified as hazardous waste (or special waste as it referred to in Scotland) under waste legislation and so may only be transported to a licensed
waste site by a waste carrier licensed by the relevant environmental regulator (ie the Environment Agency in England, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and Natural Resources Wales in Wales). You can find advice:
Considerations when buying replacement gauzes
When sourcing replacement gauzes, buyers should seek confirmation from their suppliers that the supply chain is assured and that new gauzes do not contain any level of asbestos.
The only certain way of assuring this is for items originating outside the EU to be analysed by a laboratory accredited for asbestos identification by the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS). You should seek a copy of a valid UKAS test certificate for the gauze
from your supplier.
Asbestos gauzes - Frequently asked questions
Our answers to frequently asked questions provide further information.