Hazards, Hazards, Hazards

Practically all schools today are chockablocked with various problems, ranging from classroom size, bullying, arduous assignments, and so on. But all of these elements have something in common — they are all hazards that Amsterdam High School is bursting with, day-in and day-out, and the problems just get worse as the days go on. But the material and physical hazards are much worse in terms of their risk to students and others situated in the building. Rather than let these known problems go ignored, they should be exposed for what they really are, to ensure some level of action is taken to solve these pertinent issues.

The Basics

Right off the bat, everyone is acquainted with the commonplace hazards: a leaky ceiling, the falling tiles, and the holes plastered throughout the walls and floors. A ceiling that leaks is considered a major hazard because it eats away at — and causes major damage to — the building as a whole. It can lead to holes, spur the growth and development of mold or mildew, hamper insulation, and when placed near lighting fixtures, can lead to accidental electrocution and become a serious fire liability[1][2]. Asbestos can also be the result of a leaky roof, and becomes noticeable when tiny pin-size holes begin appearing throughout the tiles.[3] Recently, a basketball game between Amsterdam and Gloversville was cancelled because of the roof leak. This should obviously be the height of our worries, considering this is obviously a continuing problem with dire consequences if allowed to trek on.

As for the falling tiles, this usually transpires after some form of bad weather impacts the school. When something heavy, such as rain or snow, backs up on the roof, the weakened ceilings can begin to succumb to the pressure and break down. Any pedestrian could be at risk of being hurt by a falling ceiling tile if they’re at the wrong place, at the wrong time. Just last year, a whole slew of tiles smashed down to the floor in the boy’s locker-room, and a passel of tiles came crashing down near the cafeteria, proving once more the vitality of this seemingly unfaltering hazard.

Understanding Other Hazards

Another hazard that plagued the school for awhile was the fact someone — student or administrator, it isn’t clear — decided to unhinge the stall door in the boy’s bathroom in the commons and screw it on backwards. Meaning, for some time, students were unable to shut the door and had to rely on a backpack or even their leg to keep it closed. This was addressed multiple times and it took far too long for the issue to at last be fixed.

A few times here and there, another hazard becomes clear. One can occasionally lay eyes on open doors around the school. While this is usually put to a halt immediately, and there are certain exceptions, it goes without saying that this presents a potential risk to students and faculty members if it goes unchecked. While we know that a silent alarm is emitted from gym doors and classroom doors if they’re opened during school hours, the same cannot be guaranteed for other doors that are placed around the school.

There are also potential issues that are not clear at the moment; air quality should be tested regularly due to the possibility of contaminants[4]. This is an understated risk amongst schools, especially if its concentrated and mingled with other hazards and risks. Another well-known hazard is the fact that classrooms are, more times than not, at a temperature which students find either excruciatingly cold or swelteringly hot. According to one teacher, it’s controlled at Lynch Middle School! Whatever the case, hazards should always be reported immediately to school officials and facility members, but action is not always swiftly taken.

As a matter of fact, these are barely pressing the threshold of the hazards. From open doors in the loading dock exposing the outside, to wires being left in boxes or all over the floors, to mice roaming around, and to a giant tube pumping out hot air in the hallways, these hazards are left, right, and center, and are definitely unavoidable. For weeks the hazards listed are only a small list of what we as students have taken sight of, and we haven’t a clue what’s behind the scenes. If we are to have a safe environment for students, we’d better dare to be straight-up and willing to fix these vast array of problems. Students shouldn’t have to worry about the integrity of the school building being in jeopardy, or about the possibility of unwanted and potentially dangerous people finding their way in through open school doors.

An Example of Steps Taken & Potential to Do Better

A study in 2015 found that out of “131,000 public and private schools”, “about one-third are believed to contain asbestos.”[5] Luckily, the High School has asbestos management plans, and claims that “periodic surveillances are conducted every six months.”[6] But does this necessarily protect us from asbestos? Asbestos is a known carcinogen composed of fibers, and prolonged exposure to this substance can scar lung tissue, the development of alveoli in the lungs, and can lead to lung cancer and pleural mesothelioma. This natural mineral is commonly used for construction, in particular for ceiling and floor tiles. 61% of commercial buildings have asbestos in their roofing compounds[7], so it is good that the school has taken steps to guarantee some level of safety within the schools.

Nevertheless, students shouldn’t have to go on a “hazard hunt” in a class just to check out what hazards can be seen with the naked eye. Hazards should regularly be kept in-check and fixed whenever possible, based on solutions that can assure the safety of everyone — but they keep piling up and classes have taken to task various ways to accommodate them. These shouldn’t be things we have to deal with, but because they persist, it’s about time we get working on them.

Sources:

1.] Brothers Services Company. (n.d.). My Roof is Leaking – What Do I Do and the Dangers of Waiting. Retrieved from https://www.brothersservices.com/blog/roof-leaking.

2.] Angies List. (2016, September 22). 7 Unexpected Dangers of a Leaky Roof. Retrieved from https://www.angieslist.com/articles/7-unexpected-dangers-leaky-roof.htm.

3.] Bergman Draper Oslund Udo. (2017, July 7). How to Tell if Ceiling Tiles Contain Asbestos. Retrieved from https://www.bergmanlegal.com/ceiling-tiles-contain-asbestos/.

4.] Environmental Protection Agency. (2018, October 25). Why Indoor Air Quality is Important to Schools. Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/iaq-schools/why-indoor-air-quality-important-schools.

5] Strand, T. (n.d.). Asbestos in Schools. Retrieved from https://www.mesothelioma.com/asbestos-exposure/jobsites/schools/.

6] Greater Amsterdam School District. (n.d.). Required Notifications . Retrieved from https://www.gasd.org/about-us/required-notifications/.

7] Environmental Working Group. (2004, March 4). ASBESTOS: THINK AGAIN: MILLIONS WERE EXPOSED — WERE YOU? Retrieved from https://www.ewg.org/research/asbestos-think-again/millions-were-exposed-were-you-0.

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