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Promoting health and safety within a school setting

Posted on: Monday, December 8th, 2014

Therefore, it is essential for all of those involved in the management and organisation of a school to take a sensible approach to mitigating potential risks within an educational setting.

Most schools have a safety policy in place and apply it practically to the real risks in the school. In addition, key staff members will have clearly defined roles and responsibilities when it comes to ensuring health and safety within that school.

Maintaining pupil and student safety has been part of the ethical framework for decades. Schools also have legal responsibilities for safety and this is outlined under Ofsted guidelines.

However, at a time when there is growing concern about the safety of pupils in school, alongside worries about excessive risk aversion, 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 the way they approach 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 safety policy, including those that may not be as obvious.

Law

Schools should ensure that all staff members are aware of some of the main bits of regulation that governs policy within the public sector.

This includes the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, which 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 that 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 the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, whereby an employer has a duty of care to promote the safety of those who work for them.

Improving health and safety

There are many ways in which schools can help to boost the health and safety of their establishment.

Perhaps one of the most important ways of doing this is to conduct thorough risk assessments and review them regularly.

However, it should also be noted that while risk assessments should be conducted 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. School leaders should then take steps to eliminate those risks.

Where appropriate, any precautions taken should also be well documented.

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 obstructions that could create accidents, or block fire escapes, also need to be noted and reviewed often.

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 also in the 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 jeapordise their security.