At Asbestos Justice we have regularly reported on the dangers posed to both teachers and pupils as a result of potential asbestos exposure within our tens of thousands of schools, nationwide.
Famously, asbestos exposure within a school caused the tragic passing of Diane Willmore, who passed due to developing, incurable asbestos related mesothelioma at the young age of 49. Mrs Willmore experienced exposure to asbestos at a Knowsley school in the 1970s, where she was a pupil. Whilst she suffered relatively light asbestos exposure, the Supreme Court found that this was sufficient to have materially increased the risk of her developing mesothelioma, thus resulting in the claim for mesothelioma compensation succeeding at the highest court level in the land.
The great fear is that many hundreds if not thousands of people will suffer the same fate as Mrs Willmore as a result of experiencing similar “low level” exposure to asbestos dust.
One recent survey from last year from the National Union of Teachers (NUT) confirmed our worries about current standards of asbestos management in various schools.
Of all respondents questioned about their knowledge of asbestos within their schools, a staggering 44% had not even been told about the presence of asbestos within their own school. This seems unbelievable as it is thought that around 86% of schools do contain some form of asbestos. If teachers are not even made aware of the presence of asbestos within their place of work, how can basic training be provided and health and safety precautions be taken?
Even more illuminating was that of the 46% who had been made aware that asbestos was present in their school, a shocking 40% had not actually been told where the asbestos was located. If teachers are unaware of where asbestos is present, this begs the question how can they possibly protect themselves, their colleagues and their young pupils from breathing in the deadly fibres after any unintentional disturbance? Of that 46% who were aware of the presence of asbestos within their place of work, over one third described incidents where asbestos may have been disturbed resulting in fibres floating around in the school atmosphere. Such occurrences pose a real risk of harm in the future for all who learn or teach at our schools.
Clearly, awareness of the dangers of asbestos exposure has not spread quickly enough across the teaching profession as the survey showed that 75% were unaware of the increasing incidences of mesothelioma affecting teachers, with 95% being unaware that the UK has the highest death toll for mesothelioma in the world.
Only 20% of those responding to the survey were aware of the accepted opinion of medical experts in the field of asbestos disease that children are considered to be at a greater risk of developing mesothelioma than adults.
In America, annual reports provided to parents of pupils referring to the presence of asbestos in schools are mandatory and yet in the UK, the recent survey highlighted that 80% of pupils had not been provided with information on asbestos within their child’s school.
Unbelievably, only 15% of teachers responding to the survey said that they had seen their school’s asbestos management plan, showing once more that awareness needs to be promoted further to safeguard the future health of teachers and pupils.
At Asbestos Justice, we have recently succeeded in a mesothelioma claim for a client who was exposed to asbestos on a regular basis when working for a local council at the Rider’s Infants School as a caretaker. A detailed witness statement was obtained from our client in support of his mesothelioma claim which highlighted that he was regularly exposed to asbestos dust as a result of working next to lagging on pipework within a boiler room at the school.
Historically, asbestos has been used as a form of lagging on pipework and boilers over many decades due to its affective fire retardant and heat insulation properties. Worryingly, his exposure to asbestos dust continued into the 1980s, leaving open the possibility that pupils may have breathed in harmful fibres which may have floated around in the general atmosphere of the school.
This successful mesothelioma claim shows that it is not only teachers and pupils who are at risk of developing the devastating conditions, but all employees working at schools should be made aware of the dangers of working with the material.
Our client’s claim for mesothelioma compensation succeeded within 75 days of us receiving first contact from him and shows that cases of this type can be concluded swiftly to ensure that mesothelioma sufferers are able to use their mesothelioma compensation to assist with their care during the course of their period of suffering with the condition.
Clearly there is a desperate need for a long term strategy to eradicate the presence of asbestos and its horrific associated risks to health for all who frequent our schools.
If you require assistance in pursuing a mesothelioma claim or believe you may have a valid asbestos claim relating to any other asbestos related illness please contact us today on our freephone number 0800 038 6767. Alternatively, head over to the ‘Contact Us’ page, complete the form and we will be in touch.