Figures released by local authorities have revealed hundreds of buildings still in use across Shropshire contain asbestos…
Schools, libraries, fire stations, and day care centres are among the buildings in Shropshire said to contain asbestos.
The substance was often used in building projects prior to 2000 and is only dangerous if the materials that contain asbestos are damaged. Exposure to asbestos can lead to chronic respiratory diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, and pleural thickening.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), asbestos is responsible for the death of around 5,000 workers each year. Around 20 tradesmen die each week as a result of prior exposure to the substance.
Across Shropshire there are 391 sites that contain asbestos. Around 175 are schools, 13 are libraries, 10 are fire stations, and 10 are leisure facilities.
Since 2011, Telford & Wrekin Council has spent £280,000 trying to tackle the issue, while neighbouring authority Shropshire Council spent £174,423 since 2013. The money was used for inspections and updating records, as well as the removal or encapsulating of known asbestos.
Shropshire Council’s Head of Commercial Services Steph Jackson said: “We take our duties with regards to asbestos extremely seriously and undertake our duties to ensure the safety of the public and school users.”
It is rare for asbestos to be removed from a building that is not deemed dangerous. However, the list has been created to ensure construction workers know of the dangers before carrying out work in the future.
Shropshire Council’s on-site asbestos register revealed only one per cent of samples taken from local buildings were considered high risk. A total of 75 per cent were considered low risk, with 24 per cent medium.
Jackson said: “In keeping with the current Health and Safety Executive guidance, all known asbestos samples in council-managed buildings are reinspected at least annually to evaluate the risk associated with each one.
“Each asbestos sample has the risk sorted in order to establish its risk priority.
“The number of samples, sites and the ratio of risk priorities changes daily, as re-inspection surveys are completed and ongoing removal and remedial works are completed.
“The expenditure covers inspecting and monitoring the condition of known asbestos and updating the records, and removing, enclosing or encapsulating known asbestos as a result of the annual inspections or planned building refurbishments.
“I believe this demonstrates that we take our duties with regards to asbestos extremely seriously and undertake our duties to ensure the safety of the public and school users.”
Russell Griffin, of Telford & Wrekin Council, said: “In accordance with the control of asbestos regulations the council has in place asbestos management surveys for its properties, these include both operational and educational buildings.
“From these surveys asbestos containing materials are known to be present in 62 properties.
“There are no schools or operational properties that are not being used because of the presence of asbestos.”