Demand for asbestos checks after discovery at Halesowen school

Demands were today being made for all public buildings to be inspected for asbestos after the discovery of the substance led to the closure of classrooms at a Halesowen school.

Earls High School. Image: Google Street View
Earls High School - one of the most popular choices in Dudley. Image: Google Street View

A small amount of asbestos was discovered in a heating supply pipe at Earls High School.

Three classrooms and a girls’ toilet have been sealed off while work is carried out to remove the material.

Today, UKIP councillor for Halesowen, Ken Turner, said Dudley Council should now inspect similar buildings to ensure the safety of the public.

He said: “I would like to think that Dudley Council will embark on a programme of looking into all buildings that are used by the public.

“They need to be observed and checked on to make sure they do not contain asbestos and could cause danger to the public.”

The school was passed from Halesowen Borough Council to Dudley Metropolitan Council in 1974. It replaced Halesowen Grammar School in 1972.

Councillor Turner, who recently switched from being a Conservative to UKIP, said: “Additional work has been done for new buildings at the site.

“I would have thought the council could have looked for and identified the asbestos then.

“It should have been found and removed a long time ago.”

Asbestos is not dangerous unless it is disturbed and fibres become airborne. The Health and Safety Executive and a health and safety team from Dudley Council are assisted the school.

It was discovered after the heating broke down following the end of the Christmas period, on January 6.

The school was closed for the following two days.

Since then, the classrooms and toilet have been sealed off with drama lessons having to be held elsewhere in the school.

Mr Kew said: “There was disruption on the first week we came back for Christmas.

“In terms of lessons we lost, I think we are able to make up for the time over the next few weeks.

Mr Kew added the school would look to improve the heating system over the coming years.

Wendy Hill, aged 50, removed her 16-year-old daughter from the school yesterday, despite assurances from bosses.

She said: “I want to see the school cleared of it first before my daughter goes back.

“I know what a nasty thing asbestos is and I don’t want to take the risks.”

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Comments for: "Demand for asbestos checks after discovery at Halesowen school"

Chrisp

Dear Sirs,

The HSE introduced The Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations in 2002 - this duty (which was long overdue) placed a specific requirement on all those responsible for the repair and maintenance of non-domestic premises to find out if there are, or may be, asbestos-containing materials within them. It also requires them to record the location and condition of such materials, and then assess and manage any risk from them, including passing on information about their location and condition to anyone liable to disturb them.

I would therefore have assumed that Dudley council have already surveyed all the buildings that they are responsible for and that this is more likely a case that either the survey missed this particular item of asbestos or that it was in a concealed location and not identified within a standard Management survey. What the article does not state was how / why the asbestos was identified - if the heating pipes were being replaced then the council should have commissioned a more intrusive survey prior to the heating works being undertaken.

It is also worth noting that as part of the management of asbestos the council should have a Management Plan in place which would include a program to monitor the condition of any asbestos remaining in situ - does it????

with regards

Chris Pearce

Director - Hatch Consultancy

JJ

They don't really need an asbestos check they already know where it is. All you need to know is when a building was built and if it was before the ban then it will probably have it. Shopping malls, supermarkets, swimming pools, train stations, football stadiums, schools, hospitals, airports and even many peoples homes. There will be some somewhere. This is the reason why for many schools they have chosen to simply build a brand new school on a new plot rather than refurbish an old one. The ones they choose to just abandon rather than knock down are likely to be the ones riddled with the stuff.

My point is there is so much in public places that simply removing your kid from the school really isn't going to protect them any more.

Mr_foxall

Earls High is an academy. It was privatised in 2011, and has nothing to do with Dudley Council. Was Cllr Ken Turner asleep when this happened?