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16 September 2016

Asbestos in schools claims

The Department’s John Fischer, Executive Director Infrastructure, clarifies claims about asbestos in 10 metropolitan schools.

“We work closely with our schools individually and the Department of Finance’s Building Management Works to organise and schedule maintenance to be carried out at schools, including the remediation or removal of asbestos containing materials,” Mr Fischer said.

John Fischer

John Fischer, Executive Director Infrastructure, Department of Education

“While items containing asbestos may have been initially rated high priority based on a visual inspection, the nature and location of these items is further assessed to ensure that they do not pose an immediate danger to students and staff.”

Mr Fischer said parents can be reassured that schools would never put students and staff at risk and areas of high concern are dealt with swiftly.

“It is important to note, that asbestos in its current undisturbed form is not a risk to students and staff,” he said.

“The asbestos present in most pre-1980 buildings would not post a health risk unless respirable fibres are disrupted – which is why works are usually scheduled during school holidays.”

In collaboration with the Department of Finance’s Building Management Works, we can confirm that the majority of the asbestos is contained in areas where there is restricted access and/or the material has little chance of being disturbed. For example, the asbestos is contained in the roof eaves, an electrical cable pit, in the ceiling and inside floor tiles.

“Timing for removing asbestos materials in schools is assessed on a case-by-case basis and the safest approach for removing materials is always followed,” Mr Fischer said.

“Remedial work has been completed at six of the schools, and the results of additional testing at another school has shown there to be no asbestos in the material that was tested.

In order to ensure school disruptions are minimised, the remaining remedial work is scheduled for completion over the October school holidays.”

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