Department acts quickly to address school asbestos scare

The Queensland Times – Monday 26th Apr 2021 – Lachlan McIvor

The Department of Education moved quickly to address an asbestos scare at an Ipswich high school over the weekend.

Ipswich State High School principal Simon Riley wrote to parents on Friday to inform them that access to a building at the school had been restricted to students and staff after a chipped drainage cover, which may contain asbestos, was found.

The school’s junior manual arts building, M block, was closed off until repairs and a professional clean were completed.

Contractors were due on site to fix the issue on Saturday.

“The school’s Built Environment Materials Information Register indicates that the debris may be made of fibro, which may contain asbestos,” Mr Riley wrote.

“The area will remain restricted until a clearance is provided for its reuse.

“These precautions will ensure that all students and staff are kept safely away from the area.

“As you would be aware I take the issue of student and staff safety very seriously.

“I believe that the partnership we share as a school community means that it is important to keep everyone informed in order to minimise concern.”

Mr Riley told the QT it was important these measures were taken as a precaution, even if there had only been a very small chip in the drainage cover.

He said the issue was now resolved after repairs were completed over the weekend, with students returning to school on Tuesday after a long weekend.

Building materials containing asbestos were used extensively throughout Queensland between the 1940s and 1980s.

They were used in floors, walls and roofs for houses and schools across the state.

Material containing asbestos that has not been disturbed does not pose a health risk.

Assets owned by the department which contain asbestos are inspected every three years.

As per department guidelines, if a facility made with materials containing asbestos, such as fibro wall sheeting, is disturbed, all students, staff and visitors must immediately vacate the area.

Only once a professional clean is done and clearance is given can it be reused.

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