Sunday Times launches campaign against asbestos in schools

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Last week, the Sunday Times launched a front-page campaign to shed light on the growing concerns about asbestos in schools, and to demand action from the government.

Sharing devastating stories from former pupils, teachers and school staff, the Sunday Times highlighted how thousands of people have been diagnosed with asbestos diseases and cancers such as mesothelioma after asbestos exposure at school.

Echoing views put forward by the charity Mesothelioma UK, and following comments by the Work and Pensions Select Committee,  The Sunday Times called for a national register of buildings containing asbestos, and a plan to identify and remove the dangerous substance from public buildings.

Asbestos was once hailed as a ‘miracle mineral’. Now, it is a silent danger hiding in millions of British buildings, including schools, hospitals, shops, and homes.

As a law firm specialising in asbestos disease compensation claims, we see first-hand the devastating impact that exposure to asbestos can have on individuals and their loved ones.

We have helped many former teachers and school workers who have become ill after being negligently exposed to asbestos in schools, and stand alongside the Sunday Times and other organisations calling for government action to tackle the asbestos threat in schools and other public buildings.

Danger of asbestos in school buildings

The Sunday Times’s campaign raises the alarming fact that an estimated 81% of state schools contain asbestos. Most of these schools were built between the 1940s and 1980s when asbestos use was at its peak, and contain asbestos in things such as ceiling tiles, roofing, insulation, wall panels, pipe lagging and flooring.

These ageing school buildings are in a state of growing disrepair. As they deteriorate, asbestos is damaged and disturbed, releasing tiny fibres which can be unknowingly breathed in by students, teachers and school staff every day.

Quoted in the article, asbestos expert Professor Kevin Bampton from the British Occupational Hygiene Society describes how “A tragedy is unfolding as we watch. We are currently sowing the seeds of a spike in cancer that will hit us in 30 to 40 years if we don’t act now. There is a perception that asbestos is a thing of the past, but it isn’t.”

Calls for government action on asbestos

One of the most significant aspects highlighted by the Sunday Times article is the need for accountability and action. The government acknowledges the presence of asbestos in schools but has previously rejected calls from the Work and Pensions Committee to support its removal, instead ruling that unless asbestos is disturbed or damaged it does not need to be removed.

The Sunday Times now joins a broad range of organisations, by emphasising that urgent action must be taken sooner rather than later in order to protect future generations from the deadly threat of asbestos exposure. It proposes a 5-step plan to tackle the threat of asbestos in public buildings like schools, as well as commercial buildings and homes. These are:

  1. The creation of a national asbestos strategy to cover the next 40 years.
  2. A national register of properties that contain asbestos.
  3. A free app or online register so that people can find out which buildings contain asbestos.
  4. Regular reporting of air quality around buildings that contain asbestos.
  5. Minimum training standards for specially-appointed duty holders, who will monitor asbestos in buildings.

Compensation after asbestos exposure at school

As a specialist asbestos disease law firm, we are committed to supporting pupils, teachers and school employees with asbestos disease compensation claims, and pride ourselves on offering considerate, caring legal support and guidance for asbestos victims.

Andrew Stinchcombe is an APIL-accredited specialist asbestos disease solicitor and Director of Novum Law. He says:

“The Sunday Times’s campaign against asbestos in schools should be a pivotal moment in the fight against this hidden danger, and we hope it will spark a nationwide conversation.

“However, we have a very long way to go, and the government must commit to tackling asbestos head-on. Without proper enforcement and a long-term plan to eradicate asbestos in schools, public buildings and homes, there will continue to be avoidable but life-shattering cases of asbestos diseases.

“In the meantime, it is imperative that schools and governing bodies across the country invest in comprehensive asbestos management plans, including removal, monitoring, and education about the risks associated with asbestos exposure. It is also vital to speak to a specialist asbestos disease law firm if you have developed an asbestos disease after exposure to asbestos in a public building to discuss a compensation claim.”

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an asbestos disease or cancer after asbestos exposure in a school, we can help you claim compensation on a ‘No Win, No Fee’ basis. For a free, no obligations chat about your case, call us for free on 0800 884 0777, email or complete our online enquiry form.

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