The recently released results of the Health and Safety Executive’s inspection initiative targeting asbestos management arrangements in randomly selected schools outside local authority control revealed a shocking lack of effective controls. 164 schools were visited and following which the HSE issued improvement notices to 28 schools including a quarter, 17 out of 59, in the independent sector.
It was discovered that over a third of schools had no written plan on how to manage asbestos, putting in doubt the long-term health of pupils, teachers and parents. Britain has the highest death rate in the world from Mesothelioma at 2,100 a year. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer almost always caused by exposure to asbestos dust. The development of the disease can take many years and can be caused by only small amounts of exposure.
Meanwhile 117 people were killed at work in the six months starting in April this year. They included five men killed in separate mining accidents at Gleision Colliery in Wales and Kellingley Mine in Yorkshire. In the former case the pit manager, Malcolm Fyfield, 55, was questioned on suspicion of gross negligence manslaughter before being released on police bail as South Wales Police continued their investigations.
Agriculture accounted for 17 of the deaths, which whilst down on this time last year, is still close to 1/6th of those killed in an industry that accounts for just 1/60th of those at work.
Construction accounted for 22 of those killed, and of these 7 died after falling from a height, with two young men both aged 21 – Jon Valbuena and Bradley Watts – being electrocuted to death.