Work has begun to create a lasting memorial to the hundreds of UK teachers who have died as a result of exposure to asbestos.
To mark the latest Global Asbestos Awareness Week, which took place last month, asbestos consultancy Acorn Analytical Services has launched the memorial project to highlight the issue of asbestos in our schools and the danger it poses to staff and children.
Surveys have revealed that more than 80% of UK schools still contain asbestos and according to the National Education Union more than 200 teachers have died from the asbestos-related disease mesothelioma in the past 20 years.
Acorn Analytical Services director Neil Munro said:
“People are always shocked to learn that teachers and children are being put at risk by asbestos in our schools every day. Tragically, it’s well documented that teachers and pupils have a heightened risk of contracting mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos fibres in the school environment. In fact, the risk to teachers is three to five times that for other workplaces. Teachers are losing their lives from acts as simple as pinning up work on noticeboards because they are unaware that they contain asbestos.
“Last year on World Teachers’ Day we launched our Asbestos in Schools awareness campaign and now we want to take that a stage further. What we want to do next is to pay tribute to teachers who have lost their lives because of asbestos by creating a lasting online memorial to them.
“We want the memorial to ensure they won’t be forgotten, and we also hope their stories will encourage people to be more proactive when it comes to tackling asbestos in schools with which they have links.”
Asbestos was widely used in school buildings between the 1940s and 1980s and regularly used in construction in the UK up until 1999 when it was banned. This is why the likelihood of asbestos being present in educational buildings built prior to 2000 remains high. Asbestos can also be found in a wide variety of other buildings including workplaces, homes, garages, schools, hospitals and other public buildings. As a result, around 5,000 people die from asbestos-related diseases in the UK every year.
Families of former teachers who have died as a result of asbestos are invited to submit a short biography and a photograph of their loved one for the memorial which is expected to go live later this year.
To contribute to the memorial project email firstname.lastname@example.org or for further information about Acorn Analytical Services visit www.acorn-as.com