HSE Announces Inspections of Asbestos Management in Schools
Inspections to support asbestos management began in September
The Heath and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced it will be conducting school inspections of asbestos management from September 2022. These inspections will assess how leaders are managing the risks from this harmful building material.
According to a 2018 survey conducted by the Department for Education, the substance is present on more than 8 in 10 school sites across the country. The same survey also found that a fifth of schools are not managing asbestos in line with government guidance.
How should schools prepare for inspections?
In advance of an inspection, schools may review their existing arrangements and check they are meeting their duties under asbestos regulations. This 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; and
- Provide information on the location and condition of the materials to anyone who is liable to work on, or disturb them.
What’s going to happen?
HSE will be carrying out a programme of inspections to primary and secondary schools in England, Scotland and Wales from September 2022 onwards.
Inspections will assess:
- How schools manage the risks from asbestos within the school estate; and
- How schools meet the ‘duty to manage’ (DTM) requirements under Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR).
The regulations place duties on those with the responsibility of maintaining school premises to manage the risks from asbestos. This is usually the employer.
Visits will be carried out by HSE inspectors who will contact the school to arrange a suitable date and time for the inspection. They will need to speak to someone with knowledge of how asbestos is managed within the school and may ask to see certain documentation prior to their visit, such as:
- Your asbestos register; and
- Your asbestos management plan.
The HSE has produced further guidance on what to expect when a health and safety inspector calls here.