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Workplan 2013/14: Asbestos management in schools outside Local Authority control

SIM 07/2012/08

Summary

This guidance explains the 2013-14 programme of interventions targeting asbestos management in schools outside of Local Authority (LA) administration including:

Introduction

Supporting the Public Services Strategy and Education sector intervention plan to target resources at the real risks in schools, the purpose of the inspection programme is to:

Building on similar previous work it involves a programme of 150 inspections nationally (England, Scotland and Wales) during the 2013/14 work year.  This equates to 50 school inspections per FOD geographical division, including 10 inspections in Wales and 10 in Scotland.

Action

Public Services Sector (PSS) has compiled a list of schools for the inspection programme at the start of the 2013-14 work year available internally via TRIM.  The schools have been selected to provide a random scientifically significant sample of a range of school types and no others should be visited in the programme.

Each FOD region should:

Inspectors should then:

At each visit inspectors should:

If poor compliance is identified, inspectors may need to make further enquiries beyond the issues covered in the questionnaire

Background

Asbestos in schools has to be managed in accordance with the regulations as it does in all workplaces – the standards to manage the risks arising from asbestos are well known and clear guidance is available for school management teams.

This programme does not include Local Authority-administered schools because this has been identified as a lower risk area where proactive inspection will no longer take place (Good Health and Safety, Good for Everyone – March 2011).  Other intervention approaches are used to influence the management of health and safety across local authorities.  As locally managed schools do not receive oversight from local authorities this further sample of inspections is planned to monitor whether these autonomous schools are complying with the Control of Asbestos Regulations.

If asbestos is properly managed and remains undamaged and undisturbed then its presence alone should not be a cause for concern.  Teachers and pupils are not likely to be at risk in the course of their normal activities.  This is an important message for school staff, pupils and their families.

Those most likely to be exposed to asbestos are tradesmen, including potentially school caretakers, who could disturb it through drilling, sawing and other maintenance or installation work.

Previous HSE inspection initiatives in schools have provided valuable intelligence on the level of compliance in both the LA and non-LA controlled sectors.  Key issues related to management arrangements specifically:

The results from these inspection initiatives have been made available on the asbestos in education section of the HSE website.

Organisation

Targeting

Only the schools identified for Inspectors by the PSS Team are to be included in the programme.  This sample (provided by CSEAD) gives a representative number of schools from the different management types.  Details of the schools are provided in a spreadsheet available internally via TRIM (TRIM ref No. 2013/72299). Details of the schools will be closed for Freedom of Information Act purposes and under the Environmental Information Regulations, until after the programme has been completed.

Timing

Visits should run from April 2013 to the end of December 2013.  Follow up visits, for example to check compliance with notices, may go beyond this date.  Completed questionnaires (either hard copy or scanned copies) including COIN case reference details should be returned promptly to the OPSTD Public Services Sector Government, Defence and Education Team Bedford (publicservicessector email) by the end of January 2014 at the latest.

Resources

The FOD geographical divisions, will undertake 50 inspections each (150 in total).

DIO support for initial enquiries to confirm a schools inclusion as part of the inspection programme – one day per division.

A total of 75 days B3 Inspection contact time is anticipated (based on 0.5 days contact per visit). NB this does not take into account any non contact or follow up time for enforcement, etc. The questionnaire process should take approximately 1.5hrs to complete, depending on availability of supporting evidence and any subsequent follow on. 

Recording & Reporting

Normal COIN work recording arrangements apply to this work.  Copies of the completed questionnaire should be attached to the COIN case record for the school. 

Inspectors are reminded that schools within this inspection programme are separate legal entities and should not be recorded as part of an LA.

Health & Safety

During these visits HSE staff should not be exposed to asbestos fibres.  The only circumstances where staff may be at risk are when there are maintenance activities, refurbishment or other construction related work going on in the premises at the time of your visit.  Inspectors should review the information on asbestos on the intranet under 'Your Health and Safety'.

Where the information suggests there may be disturbed ACMs then HSE staff should exercise extreme caution and not put themselves at risk.  Inspectors should follow the guidelines contained in the relevant H&S policy supplement.

If you suspect material (e.g. lagging and insulation) is asbestos and is in poor condition do not enter any area where there is a risk of exposure to asbestos fibres.  Action to deal with any immediate risks should be taken in line with OC 265/50.

Diversity

Guidance on inspecting ‘Faith schools’ has been provided by Ofsted and provides useful pointers on appropriate etiquette.

Further References

Asbestos in system buildings:

DfE Guidance:

Contacts

OPSTD Public Services Sector Government, Defence and Education Team, Rose Court, Bedford and Oxted.

Appendix 1:Questionnaire

Appendix 2

Updated2014-09-10