More than a quarter of schools in Scotland still contain asbestos despite on-going work to remove the harmful substance, new figures show.

Figures gathered by Labour MSP Mark Griffin via Freedom of Information found 1,360 schools out of a total of 5,067 across the country contain the outdated construction material.

South Lanarkshire is the only council area in Scotland to report that none of its schools contain the substance.

Some 274 schools across the country had asbestos removed from their building within the last year.

Campaigners have warned that asbestos exposure is still the biggest cause of all work-related deaths in the UK.

Griffin is promoting legislation which could lead to the establishment of a Scottish Employment Injuries Advisory Council (SEIAC).

If passed by MSPs, the new body would work with Social Security Scotland to help design and deliver enhanced protections for workers injured at work through no fault of their own.

Responsibility for employment injury benefit has been devolved to Scotland but the powers have yet to be used by SNP ministers.

Griffin said: "It is terrifying for parents, teachers and children, that a quarter of our schools still have asbestos in them.

"The current Westminster benefit has created an enormous gender gap by ignoring the illness and disease women have experienced at work for decades, including the risks from asbestos.

"Their cancers and ill-health are dismissed as not being due to their workplaces, and it is not right they just don’t get a look in.

"With our new powers we can fix this and properly recognise the cancers from asbestos women face at work, day-in and day-out.

"It is vital this new benefit has women at its heart, with a gender-balanced council determined to start listening to women made ill at work."

Phyllis Clark, director of the Action on Asbestos charity, said: "Asbestos exposure is still the biggest cause of all work-related deaths in the UK. It is wrong and misguided to think of it as something of the past.

"It is very much a problem of the here and now, and it is getting worse.

"We already know that three quarters of all schools built in Scotland in the first half of the last century contained asbestos. Now we know that over a quarter, 1,360, of our current schools still contain the toxic material, putting our children, teachers and staff in danger daily.

"Time is already running out for those afflicted by asbestos-related illness and disease today. There is no time for further delay from the Scottish Government."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "The school estate is the responsibility of local authorities, who own and manage their own school estate.

"We expect local councils to adhere to the relevant Health and Safety Executive guidance, which must be followed when planning and carrying out any removal, as is the case for managing asbestos in schools across the UK.

"Overall, school buildings across Scotland are in their best condition since recorded figures began and our £2 billion programme of investment in schools, delivered in partnership with local authorities, will benefit tens of thousands of pupils across Scotland.

“Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit continues to be delivered by the UK Government who decide which conditions should be prescribed for the purposes of the benefit.

"We recognise there are a range of views on this Benefit which is why we have committed to a consultation in the next few months on our approach to replacing the scheme in Scotland.”

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