Asbestos danger fears at half of Bradford district's schools

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The former Tong High School in Bradford where Graham Butterfield taught before dying after being exposed to asbestos fibres The former Tong High School in Bradford where Graham Butterfield taught before dying after being exposed to asbestos fibres

Almost half of Bradford Council schools still contain potentially-deadly asbestos, new figures reveal.

And a teaching union fears that with more schools moving out of local authority control to become academies, efforts to prevent staff and pupils from possible harm could be diluted.

The Council has stressed that it keeps a close watch on the management of asbestos in its school buildings but the National Union of Teachers has warned that when schools become academies, there is a risk of losing track of that vital information.

The UK Asbestos Training Association has also stressed that it is essential that both school staff and any builders carrying out work on them make sure they know where asbestos is located.

The association claims that 75 per cent of schools in the country still contain asbestos, although in Bradford that figure is lower, with 96 out of 205 Council schools still containing the material.

Asbestos is commonly found in ceiling tiles, heating systems and wall coverings and can become dangerous when it is damaged as potentially deadly fibres are then exposed.

A spokesman for UKATA said: “More than 140 teachers have died from mesothelioma (a cancer caused by asbestos exposure) in the last ten years, plus an unknown number of cleaners, dinner ladies and in some cases workers who have unwittingly taken on the job of removal without adequate training.

“Teachers need to think twice before fixing work to walls in such a way that would disturb asbestos and builders need to ensure they have the training and skills necessary to remove and dispose of the material safely.”

Ian Murch, Bradford national executive member for the National Union of Teachers, said: “Teachers in Bradford have died of mesothelioma, and families have been compensated on the basis that the exposure happened in the schools they worked in.

“It is not just an issue for teachers, it is an issue for pupils, because they are far more vulnerable when they are young.

“As with anything these days, there is the issue of having the money to remove it, but it needs to be managed. It can just mean keeping good records of where it is and making sure you don’t disturb it.

“With the number of academies that are no longer under council control, it is going to be harder to keep track of where asbestos is.

“Teachers, staff and pupils need to know where asbestos is – it is absolutely vital a record is kept.”

Councillor Ralph Berry, the executive member for education on Bradford Council, said that many schools containing asbestos had been closed or replaced, and that others were being closely monitored.

He said: “It can be kept safe if it is properly dealt with if we keep a close watch on it. It is a responsibility we as a Council take very carefully.”

On the NUT’s fear that academy schools are out of Council control, he added: “That is a very good point. That is one of the problems when you fragment the system, it makes it harder to maintain levels of security. I can understand the point the union is making and I agree with it.”

In recent years two former teachers in Bradford have died due to their exposure to asbestos while teaching.

Graham Butterfield, who taught at the former Hutton Middle and Tong schools between 1967 and 1996, died aged 64 in early 2011, and an inquest into his death found that exposure to the fibres had led to him developing mesothelioma.

Following the inquest his widow, Marilyn, of Idle, Bradford, said: “I cannot believe that he was exposed to this dust in a teaching environment which should be a safe place for our children to learn.”

Graham Webber, of Heaton, Bradford, a former teacher at Daisy Hill Middle School, died aged 57 in 2010 and a subsequent inquest also ruled that his death was by industrial disease caused by asbestos.

l Tong School in Westgate Hill has since been demolished and rebuilt.

Comments (8)

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9:03am Mon 30 Dec 13

Joedavid says...

Was a great fuss about asbestos with the Odeon follow the same route with schools.
Was a great fuss about asbestos with the Odeon follow the same route with schools. Joedavid

9:11am Mon 30 Dec 13

Duke of Odsal says...

I am not sure what the point of this article is. It appears to be aimed at scaring those that work or are taught in schools and it seems to me that the teaching union is using the issue as a vehicle to argue against the fragmentation of the school system. Personally I would prefer it if schools remained in the LEA, but linking this to the management of asbestos is disingenuous at best. The HSE advice is to leave asbestos alone as far as possible, maintaining it in a safe condition being much less of a risk than removing it. The argument that an owner of one property (i.e. an academy) will find it more difficult to manage asbestos than an owner of hundreds of properties (i.e. a council) is clearly not true. Any property owner has a duty under law to maintain an asbestos register, and a school that becomes an academy would acquire the LA's register as part of the transfer of ownership of the property.
Finally, those that died are far more likely to have died from exposure to asbestos in a free state than from asbestos bound into building products - remember those asbestos mats in the chemistry labs?
I am not sure what the point of this article is. It appears to be aimed at scaring those that work or are taught in schools and it seems to me that the teaching union is using the issue as a vehicle to argue against the fragmentation of the school system. Personally I would prefer it if schools remained in the LEA, but linking this to the management of asbestos is disingenuous at best. The HSE advice is to leave asbestos alone as far as possible, maintaining it in a safe condition being much less of a risk than removing it. The argument that an owner of one property (i.e. an academy) will find it more difficult to manage asbestos than an owner of hundreds of properties (i.e. a council) is clearly not true. Any property owner has a duty under law to maintain an asbestos register, and a school that becomes an academy would acquire the LA's register as part of the transfer of ownership of the property. Finally, those that died are far more likely to have died from exposure to asbestos in a free state than from asbestos bound into building products - remember those asbestos mats in the chemistry labs? Duke of Odsal

9:38am Mon 30 Dec 13

mad matt says...

Yes, the simple rule with asbestos is leave it alone, don't disturb it. If it is exposed then it perhaps needs removal, certainly needs covering up.
Yes, the simple rule with asbestos is leave it alone, don't disturb it. If it is exposed then it perhaps needs removal, certainly needs covering up. mad matt

10:42am Mon 30 Dec 13

Albion. says...

Joedavid wrote:
Was a great fuss about asbestos with the Odeon follow the same route with schools.
Is this a riddle or something?
[quote][p][bold]Joedavid[/bold] wrote: Was a great fuss about asbestos with the Odeon follow the same route with schools.[/p][/quote]Is this a riddle or something? Albion.

10:48am Mon 30 Dec 13

Joedavid says...

Albion. wrote:
Joedavid wrote:
Was a great fuss about asbestos with the Odeon follow the same route with schools.
Is this a riddle or something?
Well first solution put out years ago was to demolish it.
More recent it was removal.

So do one or the other with the schools.
[quote][p][bold]Albion.[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Joedavid[/bold] wrote: Was a great fuss about asbestos with the Odeon follow the same route with schools.[/p][/quote]Is this a riddle or something?[/p][/quote]Well first solution put out years ago was to demolish it. More recent it was removal. So do one or the other with the schools. Joedavid

11:01am Mon 30 Dec 13

Albion. says...

Joedavid wrote:
Albion. wrote:
Joedavid wrote:
Was a great fuss about asbestos with the Odeon follow the same route with schools.
Is this a riddle or something?
Well first solution put out years ago was to demolish it.
More recent it was removal.

So do one or the other with the schools.
If there is no need to disturb it and it's condition is stable and reasonably inaccessible, then leave it as it is. Removal of all of it would be hugely disruptive and expensive. In an ideal world it wouldn't be there, but it is.
I think the situation with the Odeon was that some ceiling parts had collapsed and the dust made necessary maintenance hazardous. Or at least, something on those lines.
[quote][p][bold]Joedavid[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Albion.[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Joedavid[/bold] wrote: Was a great fuss about asbestos with the Odeon follow the same route with schools.[/p][/quote]Is this a riddle or something?[/p][/quote]Well first solution put out years ago was to demolish it. More recent it was removal. So do one or the other with the schools.[/p][/quote]If there is no need to disturb it and it's condition is stable and reasonably inaccessible, then leave it as it is. Removal of all of it would be hugely disruptive and expensive. In an ideal world it wouldn't be there, but it is. I think the situation with the Odeon was that some ceiling parts had collapsed and the dust made necessary maintenance hazardous. Or at least, something on those lines. Albion.

1:23pm Mon 30 Dec 13

collos25 says...

Have not seen any reports of teachers dying in droves from asbestos related deceases.
Have not seen any reports of teachers dying in droves from asbestos related deceases. collos25

1:29am Tue 31 Dec 13

Daz_manch says...

People are quite ignorant of dangers of asbestos till it happens to them ... labours BSF adressed problems BETTER late than neaver the tories canceled it ... But labour not lilly white as thay kept papers secret on how dangerous it is given disrepair

As far as them not keeping records of cleaners caretakers well that says it all but will ad its discrimanation and unlawfull

As a school caretaker asbestosis suffer is shocking here is what adbestos in schools dose to your lungs and your kids

As its happing to me http://www.youtube.c
om/user/BullishBust?
feature=watch
People are quite ignorant of dangers of asbestos till it happens to them ... labours BSF adressed problems BETTER late than neaver the tories canceled it ... But labour not lilly white as thay kept papers secret on how dangerous it is given disrepair As far as them not keeping records of cleaners caretakers well that says it all but will ad its discrimanation and unlawfull As a school caretaker asbestosis suffer is shocking here is what adbestos in schools dose to your lungs and your kids As its happing to me http://www.youtube.c om/user/BullishBust? feature=watch Daz_manch

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