Asbestos resources from JUAC (See also News below)

JUAC's 2017 General Election Priorities

Voice Information Sheet: Asbestos  /  Taflen Wybodaeth: Asbestos

Letter for use by parents enquiring about asbestos in their child's school (Word)

Freedom of Information Requests about Asbestos in Schools (pdf)

Right to Know: Asbestos in Schools, Wales campaign

HSE information:

Welsh Government:

Asbestos management in schools (February 2014) (pdf)


Asbestos management guidance for schools and colleges (October 2012, November 2013, March 2015 )


Asbestos in Schools – the Key Issues (May 2013) (Presentation: pdf)


Latest JUAC News

 Letter to Public Accounts Committee (March 2017) (pdf)


Call for eradication of all asbestos in Britain (October 2015)

Stop playing with cancer" (July 2015)

Official Response to Consultation on Accountability Proposals for Duty Holders in the Management of Asbestos (June 2015)

JUAC looks to all political parties to support asbestos in schools campaign (March 2015)

Publication of the findings of the Government’s review of schools asbestos policy is a step in the right direction but more needs to be done (March 2015)

JUAC takes Government to task over failure to publish asbestos review (March 2015)

JUAC/IATP Asbestos in schools presentation (September 2014) (pdf)

JUAC/AiS Election briefing (September 2014) (pdf)

HSE report confirms serious failings in asbestos management in schools outside LA control (July 2014)

MBE for Michael Lees (June 2014)

Asbestos in schools:  the need for urgent action (26 March 2014)

Schools Property Data Survey Programme – what a wasted opportunity (February 2014)

Asbestos Survey, November 2013

WWII Gas Masks warning: 22 October 2013

Action Mesothelioma Day: 5 July 2013  

JUAC Government advisory committee on cancer conclude children are more at risk from exposure to asbestos (7 June 2013)

JUAC welcomes news that HSE will publish its written report into Cwmcarn High School (24 May 2013) 

JUAC calls for transparency as confusion and concern continues at Cwmcarn (14 May 2013)

Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) letter to David Laws MP, Minister of State for Schools in the Department for Education (DFE) and Minister of State in the Cabinet Office (cc: Leighton Andrews AM, Minister for Education and Skills, Wales et al) (8 May 2013) 


** Asbestos in warm air cabinet heaters: warning for schools (April 2013) **

Commons Education Committee to examine asbestos in English schools: 13 March 2013 (Watch) (Comment on the Voice Blog) JUAC's press statement

Leighton Andrews, Minister for Education and Skills, Welsh Government: Written Statement: Asbestos in Schools (27 November 2012) (Word)

Asbestos management guidance (October 2012)

Call for national audit of the asbestos in our schools (19 October 2012)

The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) has added its endorsement to Position Statement on Asbestos (Endorsing organisations (pdf)) (October 2012)

JUAC: Australian Government agrees in principle to target schools for asbestos removal (5 September 2012)

The Australian government has committed to eradicate asbestos from houses and all government buildings by 2030. The priority will be schools (International Business Times, 4 September 2012)

"Asbestos compensation timebomb for academies": SecEd, 28 June 2012

JUAC welcomes landmark for asbestos sufferers (29 March 2012)

"National scandal" of asbestos in schools (2 February 2012)

JUAC's Response to Consultation on Revised School Premises Regulations (2 February 2012) (pdf) 

New Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) website (January 2012)

Government warned of danger of making school governors wholly responsible for health and safety of pupils and staff (9 January 2012)

Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) calls for Government to abandon plans to transfer responsibility for health and safety in local authority schools to school governors (4 January 2012) 

Calls for government to continue to fund online asbestos awareness training, 21 November 2011

Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) calls for a national audit of asbestos in school buildings, 24 October 2011 

"Renewed call for government to manage asbestos in schools": JUAC, 10 October 2011

"Asbestos in schools: key questions for the DfE": SecEd, 15 September 2011 (by  Michael Lees)

"Asbestos: a Key Priority" by Voice's David Brierley: SecEd, 8 September 2011

School asbestos group calls for US-style approach (National Mesothelioma Day statement, 1 July 2010)  

Union asbestos survey shows many schools remain at risk from asbestos (18 April 2011) 

Voice comments on Dianne Willmore Supreme Court Judgement (9 March 2011)

TES article by Michael Lees, 1 April 2011

ePolitix article by Michael Lees, 25 March 2011

SecEd article (Michael Lees) 24 March 2011

Joint Union  Asbestos Committee (JUAC)

More Asbestos News/Information

Results of Voice Survey (2010)


Asbestos in Schools Group response to HSE report

Asbestos in Schools Group (AiS) press release: 21 September 2010

Thousands of staff and pupils potentially at risk as local authorities and schools fail to show that they manage asbestos safely.

The publication of a report from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report on ‘system built’ schools (21 September 2010) highlights the need for better asbestos management, according to The Asbestos in Schools group (AiS).

Although the HSE press release asserts that the majority of local authorities are complying with official guidance, it also shows that a significant number are not managing their asbestos effectively, with a quarter of the 42 inspected requiring enforcement action to be taken through the issuing of 18 improvement notices and one prohibition notice.

These findings confirm AiS’s concerns that a significant proportion of schools are not managing their asbestos effectively.

In February, a report published by the asbestos consultants’ association ATaC of their inspections of a sample number of schools found serious flaws in asbestos management. Their report reflected what their members find in many schools up and down the country, as the chairman of ATaC stated:

"These are not minor problems that have crept in over recent years; rather they are fundamental problems that are endemic in schools in the UK."

AiS spokesman Michael Lees said:

"The HSE inspections identified that a lack of asbestos training was a common weakness in a number of the local authorities and schools they inspected. This is one of the areas that AiS had previously identified as being a widespread problem in schools, and one that has to be urgently addressed if they are to stand any chance of effectively managing their asbestos."

"The questionnaire and inspections have concentrated on one particular asbestos problem in one type of school building. It did not attempt to assess standards in traditionally built schools, it gained no information on independent schools, and 95% of dioceses, who are in the main the owners of the Voluntary Aided Schools, simply failed to reply.

"There is a serious problem of asbestos fibre release in system built schools. The problem was first discovered in 1987 in Wandsworth when dangerous levels of asbestos fibres were ejected into the rooms when a door was slammed or a wall hit. A warning was not issued and nothing was done to prevent the fibres being released in the other 13,000 system built schools in the country.  In 2006, similar problems were found in a system built school in Wales and warnings and guidance were finally issued.  It is unacceptable that, 23 years after the problems were first discovered, a significant number of schools and local authorities have failed to take the necessary measures to protect their staff and children from the dangers of asbestos in these schools.*

"This new HSE report highlights that many schools and local authorities are still not safely managing their asbestos and underlines the urgent need for all the schools and authorities in the country that are not adequately protecting their occupants from the dangers of asbestos, to be identified and then brought up to a safe standard.

"The previous Government recognised that measures have to be taken to improve the asbestos management in schools by establishing an expert Steering Group under the Department for Education to recommend practical measures that will achieve this.  The Coalition Government has not yet confirmed that the Steering Group will continue. This report shows that it is essential that it does."

The Asbestos in Schools Group (AiS)is a group of organisations and individuals concerned about the dangers of asbestos in schools. The group is non-party political and is under the auspices of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Safety and Health.

Its expertise covers all aspects of asbestos in schools, and its support is widespread and increasing. Amongst the group’s members and supporters are MPs, all six of the teaching trade unions, the three school support staff unions, the asbestos consultants’ association, experts on risk, solicitors, doctors, the asbestos victims support forum, the health and safety campaigning organisation Hazards, the Independent Schools Bursars Association and individuals including those who have been effected by the devastating result of asbestos exposure in schools. The group’s overall aim is to make schools safe from the dangers of asbestos.

Further information:


Michael Lees

Asbestos survey results - Survey of Voice members in England

ASBESTOS - Findings from Membership Annual Survey (February 2010)


The Background

Asbestos is present in around 75% of schools in Britain.  Thousands of schools were built between the 1940s and 1980s when asbestos was routinely used in ceilings, wall linings and pipe lagging.

In the last 25 years, at least 178 teachers have died from mesothelioma, which is one of the most aggressive forms of cancer and linked to asbestos exposure. There are no statistics for pupil fatalities because of the long latency period of the disease.

The Control of Asbestos Regulation 2006 places duties on those responsible for the maintenance and repair of schools to take reasonable steps to identify the location and condition of Asbestos Containing Materials. The duty holder must then use this information to make a written record and management plan to ensure that the risks of exposure to asbestos are properly managed.


The Concerns

The deep concern of all the school staff unions is that there is a continuing risk to staff and pupils in schools where little is known about where asbestos is and what condition it is in.   In these circumstances it follows that asbestos cannot be safely managed.

The unions are calling for an informed risk assessment of asbestos in schools and proportionate control measures.  At school level, head teachers, staff and governing bodies must be adequately informed and adequately trained. 


The Survey Questions

We have surveyed our members about asbestos management in their schools.  The questions were:


1.       Has there been an asbestos survey in your workplace in the last three years?

If yes:                                                        

a.   were staff consulted about the results?    

b.   was any asbestos removed?      

If no:

a.   have you been told whether there is asbestos in the building? 

b.  have you been told what condition it is in?                       


2.       Does your employer provide information about asbestos management?


3.       Has anyone at your workplace received asbestos training?


The Survey Results (England)

A total of 790 questionnaires were returned from our members in England, in the following categories:

1.       Has there been an asbestos survey in your workplace in the last three years?

                                                     Yes                  No                    Don’t Know

Teachers                                         176                 134                     87

Early Years and Childcare                  46                   50                     14

Wider Workforce                                54                   46                     32

                                                      276                230                   133       Total 639

Of the 639 people who answered:

43% said yes          36% said no                  21% did not know


If yes:                                                        

a.   were staff consulted about the results?    

                                                      Yes                  No                    Don’t Know

Teachers                                           80                   79                    13

Early Years and Childcare                  15                   24                     2

Wider Workforce                                24                   29                    4

                                                      119                 132                   19         Total 270

Of the 270 people who answered:

44% said yes

49% said no

7% did not know


b.   was any asbestos removed?      

                                                       Yes                   No                  Don’t Know

Teachers                                           78                    65                   22

Early Years and Childcare                  10                    23                     8

Wider Workforce                               19                    32                     5

                                                      107                  120                  35        Total 262

Of the 262 people who answered:

41% said yes         46% said no         13% did not know


If no:

a.   have you been told whether there is asbestos in the building? 

                                                     Yes                  No                   Don’t Know

Teachers                                          56                 137                  13

Early Years and Childcare                  21                   47                    1

Wider Workforce                               23                  58                     6

                                                      100                 242                  20        Total 362

Of the 362 people who answered:

28% said yes

67% said no

5% did not know


b.  have you been told what condition it is in?                                   

                                                    Yes                  No                    Don’t Know

Teachers                                         32                 119                   30

Early Years and Childcare                 12                   46                    1

Wider Workforce                              15                   52                    5

                                                      59                  217                 36        Total 312


Of the 312 people who answered:

19% said yes       70% said no         11% did not know

2.         Does your employer provide information about asbestos management?

                                                    Yes                  No                    Don’t Know

Teachers                                         88                   258                    16

Early Years and Childcare                 21                     79                       5

Wider Workforce                              27                     82                    10

                                                     136                   419                    31         Total 586

Of the 586 people who answered:

23% said yes          72% said no         5% did not know


3.       Has anyone at your workplace received asbestos training?

                                                   Yes                  No                    Don’t Know

Teachers                                        83               176                     95

Early Years and Childcare                16                 69                     15

Wider Workforce                             28                 50                      33

                                                    127               295                    143       Total 565


Of the 565 people who answered:

23% said yes          52% said no         25% did not know



There are a significant number of schools where staff are not aware of the dangers of asbestos, they do not know where it is and are not involved in its management.  How can they be expected not to damage it and to ensure that pupils do not damage it?

This survey provides substantial evidence that urgent action is required to improve standards of asbestos management, particularly training for staff and authorities.  The results of this survey add weight to the Voice election manifesto, which calls for:

The creation of an action plan for asbestos in schools, including: an audit of the extent, type and condition of asbestos in educational institutions and the standard of management; an assessment of the risk to those who work and learn in educational institutions; the provision of relevant training and guidance and the raising of awareness of the dangers of asbestos in these institutions so they can manage asbestos risks appropriately; and for all the asbestos to be identified and removed in a phased programme when schools are refurbished under BSF and PCP.

January 2010


Summary of responses from members in Scotland, Wales and England

(February 2010):  


Q.    Does your employer provide information about asbestos management?

                                    Yes          No           Don’t Know

        England                  23%        72%         5%

        Scotland                 14%        40%        46%

        Wales                    13%        26%        61%      


Q.    Has anyone at your workplace received asbestos training?

                                    Yes          No           Don’t Know

       England                   23%        52%         25%

       Scotland                   5%          24%        71%

       Wales                      3%          19%        78%    

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