Teacher other than Andrzej Ostensvik and professional worker Len Ostensvik Mosling developed severe asthma from the poor indoor climate at Askim Senior Secondary School. In 2022, the disease is approved as an occupational injury by the NAV. They will never recover again.
You can read their story here: – Where I sat every day for eight years, mold came creeping up from the wall.
Viken County Council is responsible for the school and the property. They have responded via email to the revelations in the Geer and Lynn case.
– It is sad that two employees suffer from health problems as a result of the indoor climate. Staff and students at all of our secondary schools should have a safe physical work environment, writes County Board Member for Education and Efficiency, Heidi Westby-Niehus at the Labor Party.
She says they have tried many preventive measures, but she acknowledges that the indoor climate at the school has been very bad for several years.
– We cannot ignore the fact that the scarcity of financial resources in the former Østfold district municipality over time has made it difficult to maintain school buildings in a satisfactory manner, replies Niehös.
You write that staff and pupils should not worry about their health as a result of the poor indoor climate.
We must do everything we can to prevent this from happening again. It is therefore absolutely necessary that funds be allocated and work towards the construction of a new building. It’s also a good idea to implement health follow-up measures for employees now, Niehaus concludes.
The county council responds to this
Uddanningsnytt sent a number of questions to Viken County Council about the history of Geir and Lene and what was and was not done through the proceedings at Askim High School. This is what they answer.
– Two staff at Askim High School have now confirmed that asthma is an occupational injury due to the indoor climate in Building C and Building D of the school. How do officials in the provincial council see that?
Employees of the Viken County Municipality must have a fully responsible work environment. It is very unfortunate if workplace-related conditions have a negative impact on the health of employees, as this is something we as an employer take very seriously, writes the district manager of Viken County Municipality in Østfold district, Brynjard Rønningen.
He indicated that health checks were carried out in the school before Christmas, and that they are scheduled to be completed during the month of April.
– In this regard, the need for health checks for employees who worked in these buildings during the relevant period will be considered.
– It is now decided to construct new buildings at Askim High School. These will be ready in 2026. But until then, staff and students will continue to go to Terminals C and D for a few more years. What kind of assessments has the county council made for the safety of continuing to use these buildings?
The decision to build a new building is an acknowledgment of the need to replace the existing building in order to provide good learning and working conditions for students and staff. Viken County Municipality has a large and wide range of properties for different needs. The 1974 building, which has not undergone extensive rehabilitation or maintenance, may be seen as somewhat run-down. Leaks will occur from time to time, ventilation will not be perfect either, and other conditions may arise so that the buildings are demolished. Ronningen says the condition of buildings C and D is not such that they cannot be used until the buildings are demolished in 2-3 years.
– Why hasn’t the county council significantly improved conditions in problematic buildings in the past?
– In the former Østfold district municipality, Askim was vgs. One of several schools that suffered from a bad indoor climate. One reason for this is that over several years there have been limited budgets for the maintenance of the county council’s building stock. Askim vgs has not caught up when prioritizing measures, Rønningen replies.
– Regarding indoor air, temperature and mold measurements taken in 2016. As we are told, these measurements resulted in two classrooms being closed during the day, as a new ventilation system was installed. But nothing was done about the desks in which mold was found, other than a note posted on the door with information about the measurements. What are the improvements made by the provincial council after these measurements?
– It is true that a new ventilation system has been installed. This was a decentralized facility that served several classrooms. When a staff member had breathing problems some time ago, immediate measures were taken by changing the class teacher to a different room. The other member of staff was introduced prior to the 2020-2021 school year to teach in another building in the school. The rooms shown were some distance from the section and this meant that it was impractical for the teacher to use alternative rooms. This year, the teacher is using a separate room with a ventilation system in Building C. The principal learns that the teacher finds it satisfactory, Ronningen writes.
– Is it true that a note with information was hung only in two of the offices, without any investigations or follow-up of the findings of mold on the plasterboard?
– Unfortunately, after such a long time, we cannot confirm or deny whether there was a note hanging on the door, or what was the further follow-up of the findings on the plasterboard, wrote Ronningen.
– Were these desks used more after these measurements?
– D230 was closed even after “Brua” renewal.
– If there is no further follow-up of mold discoveries in the office – why hasn’t it been done?
Limited funds have been allocated to maintain the budget of Østfold County Council.
Answer from the development department at Viken eiendom
– In 2020, mold was discovered in Building C’s “Brua” after a staff member set up makeshift moisture traps. Further investigations resulted in a complete refurbishment of ‘Brua’. Why didn’t the county council discover the significant problems with mold earlier, when moisture damage to buildings had been known for a long time, and there were already measurements in 2016 that showed mold problems?
– We are not aware of the prioritization of maintenance measures carried out in the former Østfold district municipality. Viken District Council prioritized this action in spring 2020, and a renovation was carried out, writes Viken property development head Christian Undvik.
– How much did it cost to renew “Proa”?
– When renovating the “Brua”, new roofs were put in and the outer walls were “stripped” of the supporting structure. The walls got new windows, new insulation and new cladding inside and out. The school took its premises into use in September 2020. The project was completed again in the fall with façade panels, fittings and new sun shading. Renovation completed in November 2020 at a total cost of NOK. 2,150,000, Andvik writes.
– It was only part of the stock of the building being renovated in the summer of 2020. Did the county council conduct further investigations for mold/bad indoor climate in the rest of buildings C and D, as recommended by Mycoteam?
– In the Mycoteam AS report from June 2020, there were no worrying growth values for mold, and no recommendation for further investigation of the rest of the buildings was described, apart from the recommendation to detect and seal leaks. Askim vgs. Participation in November 2020 Ringvoll Bedriftshelsetjeneste AS for new temperature measurements, CO2 and humidity in Building D in November 2020. High temperatures were measured in three classrooms and high relative humidity in another. No new measures have been taken later here, because the buildings will be demolished under the new investment measures in the school that started this year, Andvik writes.
– What kind of assessments have been made of the potential health risks of staff and pupils by doing nothing in the remaining building stock?
– Measurements were made to transition to the heating season i.e. October 2020. Minor deviations in temperature and humidity were detected. This is a period when it is difficult to control the room temperature and keep the humidity low due to the difference in outside temperatures and heavy rain. Temperature deviations are 1-2 ° C higher than the recommended standard values, while the humidity in one room is 8% higher than the recommended standard value, which is related to the fact that this room has a lower room temperature. Andvik writes that the Viken County Council does not consider these measurements to pose any health risks.
– There are still rooms in the buildings with frequent water leaks. Why are water leaks not fixed?
– Viken County Council is aware of the occurrence of several minor and periodic leaks after the completion of the project. This is due, among other things, to ice formations in winter and water infiltration during spells. Reported leaks have been evaluated and fixed on an ongoing basis. Undvik writes that there is a problem with plugging these leaks in the winter.
– Is it true that there is still a lack of ventilation in some rooms in Building C located in “Brua”? Are there employees staying here on a daily basis?
– Brua has offices and meeting rooms. Offices are used by employees. There is a ventilation system there, but it is old and of little capacity. In connection with the work done on the bridge, new windows have been installed and it has been ensured that there is a good opportunity for outside air to compensate for the lack of capacity in the ventilation system. For classrooms in Block C, ventilation systems have been installed in Room C241 and Room C243 and classrooms on the floor below. Ventilation has also been installed in classrooms used by Vg2 Electrical Engineering in Building C. Andvik writes that it is not true that there are offices lacking ventilation in Building C. All offices have ventilation, with air supply in the office and exhaust in the corridor.
The pandemic really showed how important indoor air is to our health. That’s why researchers around the world are now calling for an indoor climate revolution in schools.
Also in Norway, thousands of teachers and pupils spend their days in classrooms with a bad indoor climate. For several months, Utdanningsnytt has investigated the situation in Norwegian schools.
Here you will find all the cases in the series.
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