Asbestos in schools

Asbestos was extensively used as a building material in the UK from the 1950s through to the mid-1980s. It was used for a variety of purposes, typically fireproofing and insulation. Any building built before 2000 (houses, factories, offices, schools, hospitals etc) can contain asbestos.

System buildings (for example CLASP, SCOLA, SEAC, MACE, ONWARD) constructed during the period 1945 -1980 were widely used for the construction of school premises.  These buildings can have structural columns fire proofed with asbestos containing materials (ACMs).

In 2007 a 'CLASP' working group was set up to advise on the potential asbestos fibre release in CLASP and other similar system built schools. Guidance on the management of asbestos in system build premises was first published in 2007 and revised in 2008. 

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 duty holder. In many cases, this is the person or organisation that has clear responsibility for the maintenance or repair of non-domestic premises.

Guidance on the duty to manage asbestos can be found in the Managing and working with asbestos. Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. Approved Code of Practice and guidance L143 HSE Books 2013 ISBN 978 0717 666 188 and on the duty to manage area of the HSE website.

Inspection initiatives in schools

HSE has undertaken sample inspections in the education sector to assess duty holder's compliance with the Control of Asbestos Regulations. The findings of these initiatives have been published.

HSE has developed an Asbestos checklist for schools. This checklist is based on the questions that formed part of the 2010/11 inspections, and will help schools to review their asbestos management arrangements. It asks key questions to help schools check if suitable precautions are in place, and to record any further action that is needed.

Raising awareness

HSE works with stakeholders to support the development of school specific guidance and advice.  The Department for Education (DfE) have published guidance on managing asbestos in schools. This provides information and advice for those who manage schools or oversee the maintenance and repair of school buildings.  The guidance is aimed at head teachers, governors, and other members of the school management team, but will also be of interest to school staff.  Although the guidance has been produced for schools in England, it includes information and links to useful resources for schools and colleges across Great Britain.


Updated 2021-04-28