Asbestos in schools

Asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) were used extensively in the construction of schools and other public buildings from the 1950s until the use of asbestos in Great Britain was completely banned in 1999.

Many school buildings constructed or refurbished during this period still contain a significant amount of ACMs. These include a range of ‘system-built’ structures, which due to their construction method contain large quantities of ACMs.

Government guidance on asbestos in schools

The Department for Education (DfE) and Welsh Government, with support from HSE, provide guidance on managing asbestos in schools.

It is aimed at headteachers, governors, other members of the school management team and local authorities who manage schools or oversee the maintenance and repair of their school buildings.

Although the guidance is for schools in England and Wales, it contains useful resources for schools and colleges across Great Britain.

Inspections into the management of asbestos in school buildings 2022/23

HSE’s report on the management of asbestos in schools summarises the findings of a programme of over 400 inspections in schools across Great Britain. It looks at how schools are meeting their legal duties to manage asbestos effectively.

The findings from these inspections help identify areas of improvement that can assist schools to improve standards in managing asbestos in their estates.

Duty to manage asbestos

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 includes the duty to manage asbestos in non-domestic premises. The responsibility falls to the dutyholder. In many cases, this is the person or organisation that has clear responsibility for the maintenance or repair of non-domestic premises. Read more about the duty to manage asbestos.

Detailed guidance on the duty to manage asbestos can be found in the publication 'Managing and working with asbestos - L143'.

System buildings

System buildings (for example using the CLASP method) constructed during the period 1945 to 1980 were widely used for the building of school premises.

System-built structures are lightweight, standardised modular buildings constructed using steel frames with panel in-fill. These can have structural columns fireproofed with ACMs.

Guidance on the management of asbestos in system build premises was first published in 2007 and revised in 2008.

Asbestos checklist for schools

HSE has an asbestos checklist for schools. This will help schools to review their asbestos management arrangements. It asks key questions so schools can check if suitable precautions are in place, and to record any further action that is needed.


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Updated 2023-12-04