MPs call for urgent action on asbestos in schools

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MPs have warned urgent action is needed to address the asbestos 'timebomb in our schools'. A report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health, sent to MPs and peers on 1 February, says more than 75 per cent of Britain's state schools contain asbestos. It adds that much of that is badly maintained, leaving children and staff exposed to a potentially deadly danger. The report notes: 'Over 140 school teachers have died from mesothelioma in the past ten years. An unknown number of cleaners, administrative staff and caretakers have also died. The number of children who have died as a result of exposure to asbestos while at school is unknown but in the US it was estimated that for every teacher's death nine children will die. That would mean that over 100 people die every year in the UK as a result of exposure when they were at school.' Launching the report, Jim Sheridan MP, the chair of the All-Party Group, said: 'This is a national scandal. Urgent action is needed to prevent more pupils, teachers and other staff being exposed to this deadly killer dust. We need both far greater awareness of the risks that this material poses and a programme for its phased removal.' Other recommendations include the reinstatement of pro-active inspections to assess the risk of asbestos in schools. These unannounced health and safety inspections in schools were axed last year by the government.

News release from Jim Sheridan MP and full report, Asbestos in schools: The need for action, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health, 1 February 2012 [pdf].

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