GMB Call For A More Proactive Approach To Asbestos In Barking & Dagenham Schools
GMB, the union for public sector workers and school support staff, commented on the report that 31 of the 61 schools in Barking and Dagenham contain asbestos. See notes to editor for copy of report in the Barking and Dagenham Post with list of schools- dated 9th September.
GMB is seeking clarification on future actions required by the council as there is no known safe level from exposure to asbestos fibres.
The TUC have recently adopted a proposal on the eradication of asbestos from all buildings. They are calling for all properties to be surveyed for asbestos by 2022, all asbestos to be removed from public buildings, including schools, by 2028 and to be removed from all buildings by 2035. GMB endorses these proposals and it is hoped that the All Party Parliamentary Group on asbestos will adopt this also.
John McClean, GMB National Health & Safety Officer, said “While we welcome the fact that the council is doing the legal minimum in checking the state of the asbestos in schools on a regular basis we do have concerns on the quality of these checks as we have no knowledge of the details on how these checks are undertaken.
Now that this information is finally out in the open and parents, teachers, staff and governors know exactly which schools contain asbestos we would also be interested in the council’s long term plans on how to deal with this deadly problem.
Blanket claims that the asbestos is being managed properly often fail to address the nature of the environment in schools where the presence and activity of children do not make a typical workplace and exposure to asbestos fibres can occur inadvertently.
GMB would like to open up a dialogue with the council on both their short and long term approach to managing asbestos , including examining options for the phased removal of a material that is known to deteriorate over time and will need to be removed at some time in the near future
In addition GMB will encourage its’ members in those schools where asbestos is present to sign up to their asbestos register in the event of a future claim for asbestos exposure”.
Contact John McClean on 07710 631329 or Keith Williams, GMB Senior Organiser on 07710 631339 or GMB Press Office on 07974 251823 or 07921 289880.
Notes to editors
Copy of report in the Barking and Dagenham Post- dated 9th Sept 2015.
More than half of the borough’s schools contain asbestos.
A Freedom of Information request submitted by the Post revealed 31 of the borough’s 61 schools are known to contain the fibres, including 24 primary, infant and junior schools.
A spokesman from the council’s FOI team said all asbestos is considered a risk but it can be left and monitored on a six-monthly or yearly basis.
The council confirmed it has six-monthly and yearly checks on the all the schools and an asbestos awareness training programme is in place for staff.
A total of seven comprehensive schools are known to contain asbestos as well as the borough’s only special school, Trinity.
Dominic Byrne, NUT division secretary for Barking and Dagenham, said: “Asbestos is a major concern, so it’s important that it’s managed properly, and if work is going on it can be sealed and not disturbed – or properly removed.
“Records need to be kept. If someone gets ill later in life people will need to know if they ever came into contact with it.”
A council spokesman said a written report is kept on-site identifying the type of asbestos and ?exact location, and includes a risk assessment and a detailed management action plan.
He added: “Barking and Dagenham takes the safety and welfare of its children and young people very seriously and this is reflected in the way risks are managed especially in relation to the presence of asbestos in all of our buildings.”
Schools known to contain asbestos
All Saints RC Secondary
Barking Abbey Comprehensive
Five Elms Primary
Henry Green Primary
Hunters Hall Primary
John Perry Primary
Marks Gate Junior
Marsh Green Primary
Richard Alibon Primary
Robert Clack Comprehensive
St Josephs RC Primary, in Connor Road
St Peters RC Primary
Sydney Russell Comprehensive
Thames View Infant
Thomas Arnold Primary
William Bellamy Primary