Nearly 700 schools have been referred to HSE over concerns they are failing to manage asbestos in their buildings, potentially putting thousands of staff and pupils at risk.
It is thought that about 90% of school buildings in England contain asbestos, although it is only a risk if it is disturbed or damaged, which releases fibres into the air.
Last year, the government undertook an asbestos management assurance process to find out more about asbestos in schools. 2,952 schools responded with 87% reported having asbestos in their buildings.
The Department for Education has now referred 676 state-funded schools and academies in England to the HSE as they did not provide evidence for managing asbestos. The HSE will now carry out inspections of some of those schools.
The National Education Union said:
“The fact that nearly 700 schools have been referred to HSE because they weren’t able to satisfy that they were managing asbestos in line with legal requirements, is a shocking indictment. The HSE, which itself lacks resources following years of budget cuts, will now be expected to investigate these cases and we are concerned that it may struggle to do so.”