Schools for Scandal – Or Construction Opportunity?

Schools for Scandal – Or Construction Opportunity?

18th April 2018

Over the past couple of weeks, asbestos has once more featured in the construction industry news as IOSH (Institution of Occupational Safety and Health) once again highlights the dangers of asbestos.  The campaign was launched in 2014 as the No Time To Lose campaign, to increase awareness on the causes of occupational cancer, understand them better and encourage businesses to take action to make their business premises safer. 

The first week in April was the 14th Annual Global Asbestos Awareness Week (GAAW), a week-long event dedicated to awareness and prevention, with each day featuring educational resources from a variety of organisations in six different languages.  This year’s GAAW focused specifically on the following issues:

  • Banning the mining, manufacturing and use of asbestos
  • Preventing asbestos exposure
  • Increasing compliance and enforcement of existing laws and regulations
  • Strengthening international partnerships

The event featured a short animated YouTube video – “Asbestos:  The Killer you Can’t See”, which demonstrates just how deadly asbestos is. 

According to the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organisation (ADAO), the Department for Education (DofE) does not have a complete picture of the extent of asbestos in school buildings here in the UK.  The DofE’s first property data survey in 2014 did not assess the extent of asbestos whilst the second property data survey which aimed to collect information on this issue only attracted a response from a quarter of schools.  A property data survey is currently underway to glean information on the presence and management of asbestos. 

In the past we’ve seen in the news incidents in which schools have had to close after the discovery of asbestos in the buildings as an emergency reaction to the crisis.  Gathering the necessary information on the extent of asbestos in schools will make it easier to address the problem.  Ascertaining the condition and location of asbestos is essential before beginning the work of removing asbestos in schools and prioritise which schools have asbestos in the most dangerous conditions. 

With so many of our schools in poor repair this will be an enormous challenge, both logistically and physically.  However, construction companies could begin preparing right now to tender for the work which will be necessary in the future.   Building and roofing businesses across the UK may find themselves working on some of the school refurbishment projects.  Any canny construction business owner would do well to prepare now for the future opportunities. 

Undergoing asbestos removal and disposal training and becoming a licensed asbestos contractor (if you’re not already) will add another string to your bow – not to be taken lightly in today’s uncertain economy.  This problem will have to be dealt with, so there should be work available when the issue is being addressed.

One of the industries most at risk from asbestos is the construction industry – after all, the dangerous substance could be present in any school building constructed before a total ban on using asbestos in the UK came into force in 1999.  Over the coming weeks we’re going to be taking a closer look at asbestos and its relevance to construction and roofing work – industries that already carry the risks involved with working at height.  It seem that the last thing the sector needs is more risk in the shape of asbestos.  However, forewarned is forearmed, so we’ll be updating you regularly on this issue.  Make sure you don’t miss out on any of this information by following us on Facebook or Twitter.