Asbestos in Schools

1. “Please provide the names of the schools in your area that contain asbestos. Ideally, I would like this broken down into type of asbestos (white, brown and/or blue).

List of Schools containing Asbestos broken down by type.

2. Please provide the date and outcome of the last independent audit or inspection of each of these schools Asbestos Management Plans.

We can provide the date and outline of the last check that the Devon County Council (DCC) Health & Safety Service made on the Asbestos Management Plans (AMPs)

We are only able to provide the date and outcome of the last time DCC visited the school.  There may have been other organisations who have carried out independent audits / inspections, and this information is not held.

3. Please provide the details of any reported incidents of asbestos exposure in these schools between 2010 and 2019.

Information for any incidents of asbestos exposure to individuals (suspected or actual) are held by individual schools as well as on an individual employee’s personnel file. This information is not held centrally. There are currently in the region of 10,000 members of staff working for Devon County Council (including schools). We estimate that to review each employee’s personnel file to locate, retrieve and extract this data would take in the region of 5 minutes per record – 833 hours.

We therefore consider this part of the request to be exempt from disclosure under Regulation 12(4)(b) of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 – ‘Manifestly Unreasonable’. We recognise that this exception is subject to the Public Interest Test and are confident that, given the Council’s duty to carefully consider the spending of public money, the public interest is best served by withholding this information at the present time.

4. Please provide details of any improvement or prohibition notice served or guidance issued by the HSE in relation to the management of asbestos in schools in your area in the last 5 years.

There have been no improvement or prohibition notices served within the last 5 years on DCC Maintained schools.

In July 2019, Manor Primary School received e-mail advice following a Health & Safety Executive (HSE) visit as part of the theme ‘Asbestos – Duty to Manage.’

In July 2019, Lifton Primary School received a Notice of Contravention which included issues with training, contractors signing in and written emergency procedures.

For both of the above, an initial response was sent to the HSE within the required timescale and a final response was sent on Friday 6th September 2019.

5. Please provide the number of school employees (existing and retired staff to include teaching staff, school support staff and caretakers, etc) and ex-pupils that have pursued a claim against the Council for exposure to asbestos within a school in your area.

In the last 9 years we have received claims from seven claimants alleging that they contracted mesothelioma as a result of being exposed to asbestos in a DCC school (alleged exposure was in 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s).

6. Please provide the number of these claims that have been settled. Four.

7. Please provide the amount of money that has been paid in settlement of these claims (with and without your authority accepting responsibility). £873,266

8. Please provide details of training offered to school governors, teachers or similar who carry out an inspection.

Whilst asbestos awareness training is covered in several face to face training courses offered by DCC, school governors, teachers or similar are not expected to carry out the annual checks as an external competent contractor is expected to do these.

9. Please provide the number of ‘System-Built Schools’ in your area.

Please see list of System or Method buildings extracted from our database using the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) description of System buildings 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).

10. Please provide the number of schools that have dealt with a leaky roof or a broken window or a damaged wall panel, during the past 5 years. (i.e. where the fabric of the building has been disturbed).

Please refer to the extract from our Schools Capital Maintenance Programme. However, it should be noted that this will only cover the works procured via Devon County Council and as such will be a small snapshot of maintenance works across the school estate.

Every school has a delegated budget and will be undertaking maintenance works on their premises which we do not hold a central record for. In order to get a full picture of works undertaken, we would suggest you contact each individual school.  Contact details for schools.

11.Finally, please provide details of when and why you have commissioned emergency asbestos air testing across your school’s estate.”

Devon County Council (DCC) does not hold a central log of this information.  The DCC Schools estate have delegated funding for all premises related matters but are provide with, and supported by, centralised guidance and access to competent advice. Many of the schools within the estate will also have direct contact with specialist asbestos companies via a DCC Contractor Framework.

There will have been occasions where schools have paid for a reassurance air test to understand if any fibres which may have been released have exceeded the clearance indicator level of 0.01f/ml. These would not necessarily be recorded centrally unless further investigation or Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) reporting was required.