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Combating illnesses among primary school pupils

Posted on: Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

Health and safety is one of the most important considerations for school managers, particularly within a primary school.

In primary school, it is not uncommon for childhood diseases to spread quickly and fairly easily and all it takes is for one child to fall ill before it becomes an epidemic.

Of course, the cleanliness and hygiene of the school will play a vital role in the health and wellbeing of the pupils there.

For this reason, it is essential to ensure that all potential risks are mitigated.

Most schools have a safety policy in place and apply it practically to reduce the possibility of teachers and pupils succumbing to injury or illness. In addition, those who work within the school will have clearly defined roles and responsibilities when it comes to safeguarding health and safety.

Indeed, it is true that maintaining pupil and student safety has been part of the ethical and legal framework for decades. 

However, at a time when there is growing concern about disease prevention, it has become necessary for schools to look at every aspect of their management and organisation, in order to see if any improvements can be made to health and safety.

In this short guide, we have outlined some of the main considerations that school leaders should take on board when drawing up a policy.

Pupil health and wellbeing

One way to reduce the spread of illnesses is to conduct thorough risk assessments and review them regularly.

However, it should also be noted that while risk assessments should be carried out often, where possible, schools should try and limit the amount of paperwork attached to each.

Instead a note of the significant hazards should be identified and steps should then be taken to eliminate them.

As part of the risk assessments, a number of factors need to be taken into consideration, including the general condition of the school and its grounds.

Any potential threats that could create accidents, sickness, or block fire escapes, also need to be noted and reviewed.

Care must also be taken to ensure that staff and pupils are aware of what the procedure is when the building needs to be evacuated, for example, because of fire or other emergencies.

Finally, schools are in a unique position to educate pupils about ways in which they can report anything that may present risks to themselves or others and avoid actions which could jeopardise their security.

Regulations and legal restrictions

All staff members should be kept up-to-date on the policies and regulations they need to know about in order to boost health and safety in their school.

For example, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 requires schools to ensure they take all reasonable steps to assess any risk to health and safety of staff, pupils and those using the facility.

In addition, the Young Person’s Safety Act (1995) was the springboard for the Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations 2004. It ensures that those who provide leisure facilities for young people are licensed.

Then there is also the Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999, which require employers to take risk assessments, and follow the guidelines set out in the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.

Cleaning

Another way to reduce the risk of illness in a school is to ensure that it is cleaned thoroughly and on a regular basis.

Particular care and attention needs to be paid to high contact areas in the building, such as door knobs, tables, food preparation areas and cutlery.

In order to do this effectively, it is prudent to enlist the services of a professional cleaning company such as Nviro to ensure that the job is done properly.