What is Happening?
HSE will be carrying out a programme of inspections to primary and secondary schools in England, Scotland and Wales from October 2023 onwards.
The inspections will be assessing how schools are managing the risks from asbestos within the school estate and meeting the ‘duty to manage’ (DTM) requirements under Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR).
The regulations place duties on those with responsibility for the maintenance of work premises, including schools, to manage the risk from asbestos. For the majority of schools, this will be the employer.
Who Will be Carrying out the Inspections?
The visits will be carried out by HSE inspectors, who will contact the school before visiting to arrange a suitable date and time for the inspection.
They will need to speak to someone with knowledge of how asbestos is managed by the school and may also ask to see certain documentation in advance of the visit, for example your asbestos register and management plan.
See our guidance on what to expect when an inspector calls for further information.
What Should Schools do to Prepare for These Inspections?
In advance of the inspections, schools may wish to review their current arrangements and check that they are meeting their duties under CAR, which includes requirements to:
- take reasonable steps to find out if there are asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) in the school premises, and if so, the amount, where it is and what condition it is in
- presume materials contain asbestos unless there is strong evidence that they do not
- make, and keep up to date, a record of the location and condition of any ACMs - or materials which are presumed to contain asbestos
- assess the risk of anyone being exposed to fibres from the materials identified
- prepare an asbestos management plan (AMP) that sets out in detail how the risks from these materials will be managed
- take the necessary steps to put the plan into action
- periodically review and monitor the plan and the arrangements, and act on the findings, so the plan and arrangements remain relevant and up to date
- provide information on the location and condition of the materials to anyone who is liable to work on, or disturb them
Schools may want to consider the findings from our recent 2022/23 inspection campaign looking at the management of asbestos in school buildings to ensure that their management arrangements remain effective and that common areas of improvement identified during these visits have been addressed.
In light of these inspections, we have also recently updated our Asbestos management – checklist for schools which contains a useful summary of the key measures that schools should have in place to manage the risks from asbestos effectively.
Follow the below links for more information and resources about managing asbestos in schools:
- Asbestos in schools
- Managing asbestos in schools - Frequently asked questions
- Managing asbestos in buildings: A brief guide
- Department for Education - Managing asbestos in your school or college (gov.uk)
- Welsh Government – Asbestos management in schools (gov.wales)
Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC)
HSE has recently updated its guidance on managing risk from reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC).
Schools should ensure that if asbestos is also present, any inspection or remediation work related to RAAC does not disturb any asbestos containing materials.
Duty holders must identify, assess and manage risk from asbestos in their premises. You must share any information on the location, type and condition of asbestos in a building with anyone who is liable to disturb it such as contractors and the emergency services.
Published on Monday 2nd October 2023