By Bethany English
Asbestos in schools puts teachers and pupils at risk, claimed unions protesting against the scrapping of the ‘Building School for the Future Programme’ at the Trade Union Congress this week.
The Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians’ Lawrence Hunt said: “Asbestos in schools is a ticking time-bomb that poses an unacceptable risk to Britain’s school workers and young people.”
TUC members expressed their anger over the abandonment of the programme and were scathing about whether David Cameron would be so quick to make cut backs in education if his own children were in danger of exposure.
After coming to power the Coalition government announced the £55 billion programme would be put on hold pending review.
Schools that were built before 1970 with Asbestos insulation can be a serious liability if not handled correctly.
However many of these schools were due to be rebuilt under the now-scrapped policy introduced by Labour in 2005.
Michael Lyons, National Executive Member of the NASUWT for the North East said: “Asbestos is the hidden killer in Britain’s schools. Schools are meant to be a place of security and education, not fear of ill-health.”
Pushing a single drawing pin into a wall containing Asbestos releases 5,000 fibres, just one of which is sufficient to cause death.
There have been over 190 confirmed deaths of teachers as a result of Mesothelioma, a type of cancer caused by Asbestos inhalation, although the actual figure is thought to be much higher due to doctors’ failure to recognise the disease.