The Welsh Government insists that responsibility for dealing with asbestos in Welsh schools lies with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), and is waiting for the results of a consultation by the Department of Education before developing a database of schools under threat from the substance.
This has caused some concern among members of the Right to Know Asbestos in Schools Wales campaign group, who feel that the Welsh Government should be more proactive in letting people know which schools may contain asbestos.
According to the Daily Post, Cenrick Clement-Evans, a member of the campaign group, expressed his concerns by saying:
“One would hope the Welsh Government would take the lead on it… We are not calling for the immediate removal of asbestos from all our schools, we are calling for planned removal from the areas it is most dangerous.”
The Health and Safety Executive has responsibility for the welfare of demolition workers who are exposed to asbestos, but the fact that health and education issues are both devolved in Wales, is causing some confusion.
HSE asbestos awareness in Welsh schools
Schools have been put in the limelight recently with regards to the presence of asbestos, with suggestions that nine out of ten schools in the UK potentially harbour the harmful substance, endangering the lives of staff and pupils.
In fact, Mr Clement-Evans went on to point out that children are more likely to suffer ill-health as a result of exposure to asbestos by the sheer fact of their youth. Asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma can take decades to develop, leaving young children at greater risk than adults over the age of 30.
The Health and Safety Executive provides in-depth information on their website about asbestos and where it may be hiding. HSE asbestos awareness is promoted regularly, and has become a huge topic of discussion since the start of their Beware Asbestos campaign several months ago.