Health Officials Survey Raises Asbestos Questions in UK Schools

Asbestos products in UK schools are not appropriately labeled for teachers and children to easily see, and health officials may not be properly documenting the usage of the dangerous fibers either, according to a recent UK survey.

The survey, which polled 600 health officials and was conducted by the Joint Union Asbestos Campaign, found that one-third of all respondents were not aware that an “asbestos registry” had been created to document when and where the dangerous fiber was being used.

Additionally, the survey also found that two-thirds of the safety officials said they had never been given asbestos awareness training or been consulted on how to manage asbestos products safely.

Perhaps an even more troubling revelation in the study was concerns about warning signs on asbestos products being used in school buildings. Twenty-five percent of those surveyed felt that the signs were not properly placed on the materials and could go unseen by students and teachers as a result.

“The recognizable symbol can be discreetly placed on the [asbestos-containing material], alerting a contractor to the presence of asbestos and helping to protect staff and the student body,” said Julie Winn, chairman of JUAC, according to the Press Association.”…The teaching profession routinely has a fluid turnover of staff, and without clearly marking [asbestos-containing materials], new staff will be unaware of the presence of asbestos.”

Christine Blower, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, added that concerns regarding the asbestos knowledge of health officials had been raised previously, and that steps would be taken to “improve standards of asbestos management in schools.”

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