By the end of 2016, asbestos claims in the UK hit £10m just from victims who had developed illnesses after being exposed to asbestos in schools. Building using asbestos has been banned for decades but it is believed that around 85% of schools had already been built with the harmful material.
It has also been reported that asbestos has been disturbed at schools “in a way that could affect the health of staff and pupils on at least 90 separate occasions in the last 5 years”. This has led teachers to demand that asbestos be removed from schools completely by 2028.
While most buildings built pre 2000 will have been built with asbestos, other buildings such as offices will not pose as high a risk as the asbestos in schools. This is because walls or ceilings containing asbestos are more likely to be disturbed by teachers pinning displays into walls and children kicking footballs against the walls without being aware of the poison that lies within.
When a person contracts an illness from asbestos exposure, such as mesothelioma, symptoms can take up to forty years to show. After the symptoms begin to show, it can take up to 24 months to become fatal.
This means that even if the tens of thousands of schools in the country that contain asbestos have it removed by 2028, there could still be people dying or suffering from the effects of asbestos as late as 2069.
Some members of the National Union of Head Teachers (NUHT) believe that the Government’s department for education is not doing enough to protect pupils and teachers, by just giving the guidance that asbestos is not harmful if it remains undisturbed.
The National Union of Teachers (NUT) also expressed concerns recently that teachers and parents of pupils were not made aware if there was asbestos present in their schools. They are now calling on the government to commit to a long term strategy of removing asbestos from schools. In Lancashire alone, the cost of five asbestos removal projects has reached in excess of £800,000 so it remains to be seen how much more can be committed.
If you are suffering the effects of asbestos exposure and would like to speak to a solicitor with experience of mesothelioma and asbestos related disease claims for comprehensive legal advice, speak to Farleys Solicitors on 0845 287 0939 or send your enquiry online.