Remove asbestos from all schools, pleads former pupil with cancer
A woman who developed a rare form of cancer following exposure to asbestos whilst at school in the 1980’s has been awarded substantial damages from her local council. The story was first published in the Evening Standard on 9th September.
The case highlights the ongoing problem of asbestos in schools. A recent Parliamentary report has estimated that 75% of schools in England and Wales contain asbestos and the House of Commons education committee has heard up to 300 former pupils die each year from exposure to asbestos.
In this case Sarah Bowman, a 46 year old mother-of-two from Wembley, attended a school in which the ceiling tiles contained asbestos. Workman carrying out maintenance would regularly push up the tiles sending lethal asbestos dust falling down onto the furniture and flooring below.
In 2009 she was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma and given a year to live. She was told that her illness was a direct result of her exposure to asbestos dust at her school following refurbishment over 30 years before. Fortunately Mrs Bowman is now in remission following surgery.
After being awarded substantial damages by Brent Council she said, “I was devastated to find exposure to asbestos decades ago caused my illness and I hope more is done to ensure people are protected in the future.”
In order to help headteachers and school leaders understand their legal responsibilities towards asbestos management, Strictly Education in partnership with the NAHT, have produced a short guidance video. The video lays out what their responsibilities are and provides 5 practical steps to meet them.