Our aim is to make anyone who works in a school aware of the dangers of asbestos in their workplace, and to give advice on how best to protect themselves.
When Derbyshire Asbestos Support Team (DAST) were first established 13 years ago, we were mostly asked to help those who had been exposed to asbestos in heavy industry. We supported steelworkers, power station workers and train builders. We still see a lot of people who worked in these areas but they have now been joined by other groups. Those who worked in schools are increasingly being referred on to our services.
Asbestos was used extensively in schools, as a means of preventing the spread of fire. This was particularly the case in the system built schools of the 1950s - 1970s. These buildings were usually poorly maintained and prone to rapid deterioration. This has resulted in asbestos dust being present in any classrooms. Loose ceiling tiles or holes in the fabric of the building mean that just a strong gust of wind or the slamming of a door could lead to a shower of asbestos fibres. We are now seeing a growing number of teachers and school support staff succumbing to the asbestos cancer Mesothelioma. There have also been several cases of people in the 40-50 age group dying of Mesothelioma, where exposure is thought to have taken place while they were school pupils in the 1970s and 1980s.
From 2001 - 2012, 177 teachers died of Mesothelioma in the UK. Numbers are rising steadily each year. 22 died in 2012, compared to 12 dying in 2005. In 2012, two school secretaries also died of Mesothelioma. Many more pupils are likely to be affected with a predicted peak of 300 dying each year due to asbestos exposure at school.
In 2014 the Derby Telegraph reported that 404 of Derbyshire's schools still contain it and this county is not exeptional in this. Mesothelioma is not a well known disease and the danger of asbestos can be under estimated. An HSE poll revealed that many people think that asbestos is no longer a danger because its use is now banned.
DAST need to raise awareness of asbestos in schools ASAP. We wish to ensure that school staff have access to information that may prevent them from developing ill health in the future. In order to do this, we have a list of materials that we need to develop.
We are in the process of preparing an interactive computer programme which will show where asbestos is likely to be found in the various types of school building. This will be used to advise and inform school staff. We also need to purchase usb sticks to distribute this to schools and information booklets to accompany the programme. Banner pens will also help to spread the message. When the programme is ready, we will plan a launch event and advertise the materials available.
The trade union Unite have made a large donation to cover our initial costs, and UCATT and ATL have also made a donation.
However, the more donations that we receive, the more usb sticks, booklets and publicity we will be able to purchase, allowing us to reach even more people.
£2000 will purchase another 250 usb sticks, another 1000 booklets, another 500 pens and bigger adverts for the launch event. This potentially saves even more lives!
Sorry, we can only accept PayPal donations on this site, our bank account does not allow us to accept card payments.