£10m Paid Out in School Asbestos Claims

As reported by the BBC Councils in England have paid out a minimum of £10m in compensation to people who developed Asbestos related disease as a result of asbestos exposure in school buildings.

32 councils have settled claims from former teachers, school staff or pupils in the past ten years. According to the National Union of Teachers  (NUT) up to 300 adults lose their life each year because of asbestos exposure in schools.

BBC has obtained figures from 135 councils in England (Using the Freedom of Information Act) showing there are a minimum of 12,600 schools where asbestos is known to be present.  According to this report, the number of actual schools that contain asbestos is likely to be higher as many have become academies and not included in the figures.

In addition to the fatality figure, in the last five years local authorities have recorded nearly 100 instances of significant asbestos disturbances, where people have been put in danger because of potential exposure to the substance.

Moreover there is no uniform approach to inspection and monitoring of asbestos in schools in England. 13 councils have reported they held no information about which schools (in their area) contained asbestos and 10 councils also refused to disclose information about the number of asbestos cases settled; meaning the figure could potentially be more than £10m.

According to Department for Education, the government is investing £23bn to improve school buildings by 20121.  A spokesperson for the department said: “This will help ensure asbestos is managed safely and that the amount in school buildings continues to reduce over time.”