Written evidence from UKNAR CIC (ASB0023)


UKNAR CIC is delighted that the Work and Pensions Committee are conducting this inquiry and grateful for the opportunity to contribute.

UKNAR CIC is a new community interest company set up as social enterprise in January 2020 with the stated aims of working collaboratively across a wide range of stakeholders and using today’s technology to help stop public exposures to asbestos. We are not an asbestos consultancy or asbestos removals company. We fervently and simply believe that there are significant unresolved issues with regards to people being exposed to asbestos unwittingly that today’s technology can help us all address much better and inexpensively: with better data and sharing of information -especially, if the different stakeholders, including the HSE, are willing to work collaboratively.

We are also aware that there is an absence or paucity of data for much of what we mention below. However, absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence. As far as we are aware attempts to gather data systematically on any scale have been very limited in terms of levels of compliance or failures of compliance with regulations. Even the AMAP surveys by the DfE were very limited in their scope and were a snapshot in time which do not reflect the practice on the ground, the quality of the management and the deficiencies which so many observe. We were at a recent event for asbestos professionals where an HSE inspector stated that “he found that the majority of schools he visited had significant asbestos management issues” and that “teachers were good at teaching but not at managing asbestos” (polite version).

We attempt to give our viewpoint and general experience for the following questions that were posed plus a short section on our most recent findings among schools and multi-academy trusts (MATs)

What are the current risks posed by asbestos in the workplace? Which groups of workers are most at risk?





UKNAR’s experience of Asbestos Management in Schools and Multi Academy Trusts

In the last nine months UKNAR has reviewed the asbestos information from many Multi Academy Trusts with responsibility for managing asbestos in hundreds of schools and we can report that:


i)                     only a small minority were actually able to collate all the relevant information easily

ii)                   only a minority were up to date with all their re-inspections

iii)                 only a small minority presented their asbestos registers clearly

iv)                 many duty holders and site managers did not understand the difference between asbestos registers and asbestos management surveys

v)                   the majority of multi academy trusts have inherited varying ages, quality of asbestos information in many different formats from different schools and different local authorities

vi)                 some of this was information was obviously inadequate and incomprehensible to them

vii)                when they realised this, the majority realised that they needed to reprocure some new management surveys and would do well to consolidate under single contractor with standard simple formats for presenting the registers where possible

viii)              when asked, the majority of them also thought that it was unlikely that most of the teaching staff knew where there was asbestos in their schools.  (They also said that as they were the estates team this element was not their responsibility but that of the individual schools.)





We are delighted to see this happening but as stated before the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence! Everyone who knows anything about asbestos on the ground knows that asbestos management is prone to thousands of unreported failures and exposures – it’s just that no one has got or sought the data in such a way to prove it! And unlike public health catastrophes such as Grenfell Tower, this one takes several decades to quietly materialise… but it will continue to cost taxpayers many hundreds of millions even many billions of pounds more than it needs or ever needed to! 

In today’s world of increasing public health and environmental awareness, post Grenfell and post Covid, surely, we need to take an updated approach to what can only really be called a public health disaster, especially if the government really does mean to “build back better”.


September 2021