Important Notice To Schools

Headteachers, School Business Managers
HSE inspectors to assess the management of asbestos in schools - Actions required.
What is happening?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will be carrying out a programme of inspections to primary and secondary schools in England, Scotland and Wales from September 2022 onwards.

The inspections will be assessing how schools are managing the risks from asbestos within the school estate and meeting the ‘duty to manage’ (DTM) requirements under Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR).

Who is Responsible for managing asbestos?

Anyone who has responsibility for the maintenance and/or repair of non-domestic premises, including schools, is a 'dutyholder' as defined in Regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. For the majority of schools, the dutyholder will be the employer.

Who the employer is varies with the type of school. For community schools, community special schools, voluntary-controlled schools, maintained nursery schools and pupil referral units, the employer is the local authority. For academies, free schools, voluntary-aided and foundation schools, it will be the school governors. For independent schools, it may be the proprietor, governors or trustees.

In situations where budgets for building management are delegated to schools by the local authority, the duty to manage asbestos will be shared between schools and the local authority. The authority's written scheme for the financing of maintained schools will set out the categories of work that will either be financed from the delegated school budget share (revenue repairs and maintenance) or remain the responsibility of the local authority (capital expenditure). Both parties will therefore have 'dutyholder' responsibilities for the repair and maintenance of the premises.

For more information: Schools property compliance, repairs and maintenance | Schools (oxfordshire.gov.uk)

Who will be carrying out the inspections?

The visits will be carried out by HSE inspectors, who will contact the school before visiting to arrange a suitable date and time for the inspection.

They will need to speak to someone with knowledge of how asbestos is managed by the school and may also ask to see certain documentation in advance of the visit e.g. your asbestos register and management plan.

See HSE guidance on what to expect when an inspector calls for further information.

What should schools do to prepare for these inspections?

In advance of the inspections, schools MUST review their current arrangements and check that they are meeting their duties under CAR, which includes requirements to:

  • take reasonable steps to find out if there are asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) in the school premises, and if so, the amount, where it is and what condition it is in
  • presume materials contain asbestos unless there is strong evidence that they do not
  • make, and keep up to date, a record of the location and condition of any ACMs - or materials which are presumed to contain asbestos
  • assess the risk of anyone being exposed to fibres from the materials identified
  • prepare an asbestos management plan (AMP) that sets out in detail how the risks from these materials will be managed
  • take the necessary steps to put the plan into action
  • periodically review and monitor the plan and the arrangements, and act on the findings, so the plan and arrangements remain relevant and up to date
  • provide information on the location and condition of the materials to anyone who is liable to work on, or disturb them.

What specific ACTIONS do MAINTAINED schools need to take?

  1. Update your schools asbestos folder with the attached updated inserts and add the site specific information available on SHINE e.g. Register, Surveys etc.
  2. Ensure your school has access to see site asbestos information on SHINE, if you need further information or having any difficulty accessing SHINE contact lee.taylor@shinevision.co.uk
  3. Complete the Site Asbestos Management Plan – section 1
  4. Ensure steps are taken to action any recommendations (High Risk Materials) highlighted in the AMP (Property Action Plan).

This can be found in the SHINE system or the following link: https://occ.shinegateway.co.uk/login.php  Click on Historical Data Tab > AMP (bottom drop down)

  1. Carry out and record a visual condition inspection of asbestos and action your findings – section 5
  2. Ensure any staff are up to date with Asbestos Awareness Training or booked on next available course via the Learning Zone or email learningdevelopment@oxfordshire.gov.uk

Further information

Follow the below links for more information and resources about managing asbestos in schools:

Contact:

OCC Property and Facilities Management

Email: fmservicedesk@oxfordshire.gov.uk

OCC Health and Safety Team

Email: healthandsafetyhelp@oxfordshire.gov.uk