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1.Identify presence of a potential hazard.
2.Assess risk to health and safety.
3.Eliminate hazard if practicable.
4.If not practicable, reduce risk by separating people from it.
5.If this is not practicable, reduce risk by protecting person.
6.Provide colleagues and pupils with information about health and safety risks and training in use of control measures and equipment.
This can be easily summarised into a series of steps:
Step One - Look for Hazards
Step Two - Decide who might be harmed and how.
Step Three - Evaluate risks and decide whether existing precautions are sufficient or more needs to be done.
Step Four - Record your findings
Step Five - Review your assessment and decide whether you need to revise it.
This is particularly important on visits where conditions such as weather may change. This is sometimes referred to as ongoing Risk Assessment, but in fact it is simply a re-iteration of review atge.
Hazards on Visits
The hazards for any Visit or Trip fall into three clear areas which can be addressed to identify sources of hazard. These are :-
i. Safer Physical Environment ii. People/Procedures (Harm reduction/Incidents) iii. External Impacts e.g Transportation or Weather
If you imagine a pupil on a skiing trip slipping on ice, they may come to no harm, break a bone or, indeed, break their neck.
If a school bus has a defect on brakes there may be a skid with no casualties, a minor accident or a major accident causing death.
We need to recognise that hazard outcomes are largely unpredictable and we can only progress by taking a “loss prevention” approach where we look at expected outcomes and numbers which are likely to be affected.
The important point is that identification and control of hazards has now become a legal management requirement (cf. Management of Health and Safety Regulations - Regulation 4) and types of hazard which we need to address in school and on school visits include issues set out under DfES Guidances including Guidances on Visits- 1998).
For ease of approach hazards may be classified by following categories :-
Class "A" Hazard A condition or practice likely to cause permanent disability, loss of life or body part (e.g. an eye).
Many visit based incidents including road traffic accidents and involving water based activities have been proven to fall into this category.
A condition or practice likely to cause extensive loss of structure, equipment or material (typically hazards from fire, electricity and machines).
For example, flammables being stored incorrectly and near sources of ignition.
Class "B" Hazard
A condition or practice likely to cause serious injury or illness (resulting in temporary disability) or property damage that disrupts, but is less severe than Class "A", e.g. slippery conditions on a skiing holiday or a broken tread at top of stairs in a hotel.
Class "C" Hazard
A condition or practice likely to cause minor (non-disabling) injury or illness, or non-disruptive property damage, e.g. build-up of clutter in a room being used for teaching or as a base during an activity holiday.
Risk can be understood as measure of Probability and Hazard.
Probability of Occurrence
Once you have considered what could happen, you should ask yourself "how often?" and simple categories are :-
Frequent Probability Occasional Probability Rare Probability
The notion of frequency will vary depending on activity and might be considered in :- • Number of People. • Hours in contact with pupils or duration of visit Using both ideas of Hazard and Occurrence following table can be created :-
Minor Hazard - C 3 2 1
Serious Hazard - B 7 5 4
Major Hazard - A 9 8 6 Frequency (High) (Low) (Moderate)
From this table and approach a HIRA may be produced which has an indication of seriousness of a potential Risk and gives Group Leader/EVC a method of prioritising Risk Reduction.
Recording your HIRAs
The method set out in previous section allows a set of priorities to be drawn up and resources, financial or human, set accordingly.
Obviously, major hazards with high frequency should be given highest level of attention. Any item or area scoring 6 or above should be highlighted for specific attention and a copy of Assessment should be passed to either school EVC or Headteacher on completion.
You will find Specific Hazard and Risk Assessment forms for Visits and Trips contained within DfES Guidance for Visits at www.dfes.gov.uk.
This document gives fuller listings on particular hazard and risks to be addressed during planning for visits.
If it wasn’t written down - it didn’t happen.
Any staff involved in an incident should always make notes or fill out an incident/ casualty report on any event attended, no matter how minor.
Proper records will help you to recall incident if you are ever asked about it at a later stage. The responsibility is greater if you have a role as a Group Leader or a teacher first aider. attending an incident or a teacher administering medicines to a pupil.
Records may be used in a court, so ensure that your report or notes are accurate, factual, contain all relevant information, and are based on observations rather than opinions.
Your role as a Group Leader on any visit makes it important that all your actions are recorded, especially as these actions pertain to your HIRA.
When preparing any report some general guidelines should be followed:
•Use ink only.
•Any corrections should be crossed out with a single line and initialled. Do not use correction fluid to correct any mistakes.
•Sign and date record.
•The information should be kept confidential, and should only be accessed by authorised people.
•In any medical incident, a copy of any report, especially of any treatment at site,should be also sent to A&E Department at hospital with patient.
A Final Word
A prosecution is only made in exceptional circumstances where a Police and HSE Investigations show elements of gross negligence so advice to follow simple rules of good practice will keep you secure. Remember no one has ever been prosecuted for following good safety practice.
Dr.Paddy Swan is a qualified teacher with senior management experiencein UK schools and colleges. He has almost 30 years experience in developing some 100 Safe Systems of Work training solutions for industrial clients. Paddy is the author of School Basic Safety for Classroom and Support staff for UK schools and the Headteacher's Safety Managment Toolkit These may be seen at http://www.swaneducation.co.uk