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Unions secure official schools asbestos guide

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Union pressure has led to the government publishing new online asbestos guidance for school chiefs. The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) said the new guide from the Department for Education (DfE) is 'a step in the right direction in the campaign to make all UK schools and colleges safe from the dangers of asbestos.' JUAC says asbestos in Britain's schools has been responsible for the deaths of 140 teachers from the cancer mesothelioma in the last 10 years (Risks 580). It is not known how many children may have died, but in the US it was estimated that for every teacher who dies, nine former pupils will die. In Britain that would mean that more than 100 people are dying every year as a result of asbestos exposure when they were at school. JUAC chair Julie Winn said the guide was welcome, but additional measures were required to protect school pupils and staff. 'With the delivery of education experiencing major changes, and even more expected, it has never been more important that headteachers, bursars and school managers know how to manage the asbestos in their schools and JUAC calls for mandatory asbestos management training. It is equally important that those working and learning in schools containing asbestos understand the risks and how to reduce those to the lowest possible level.'