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* They must be made school specific. * They need to form part of School Safety Management System.
•Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Flowing from school Risk Assessment System control measures will be identified and some of these e.g for school cleaning, will indicate that PPE needs to be used for some operations. The school needs to ensure that PPE is available, in good condition and that employees and pupils wear it and use it properly. It should also be regularly inspected and inspections recorded and equipment updated and replaced as necessary. If PPE is provided to pupils for use in school or on visits e.g buoyancy aids for water based activities, or mountaineering gear for adventure based trips, children need to be clearly instructed and know how to use it and it should be in good condition.
•Managing Safety – The Head teacher and any Governing Body, whether it is Employer or not, has a duty to ensure that safety is properly managed in school and this means : that a SMS is in place and it works. that all Risk Assessments, Policies, Procedures etc are appropriate to specific circumstances of school.
Children and Safety:
Because of intersection of laws like Children Act and various Education and Medical Acts, H&S in schools is actually far more complex than it is in industry.The clear imperative for any teacher or school is primacy of safety of children.
This also brings into play professional duty of care of teacher and school to do no harm through carelessness and/or negligence.
This taken in round means that level of care and supervision given to younger and more immature children needs to be greater than that given to older, more mature children. However, every teacher knows that some Year 5s can be be more mature than Year 6s.This is where teacher's professional competence intersects with Risk Assessment, Polciies and Procedures. Every day in controlling class teacher's are making ongoing Risk Assessments in maintaining discipline and adequate supervision. All that H&S does is to provide a framework in which to operate which allows them to justify their actions in case of a accident or incident. By providing this framework school protects, itself, its' staff and its' children.
Staff and Governors and SMS
• Whether or not Governing Body is Employer it still carries out its’ duties by oversight of SMS and actively checks by monitoring and auditing School SMS and ensures that it fits school’s circumstances. The Employer Governing Body as a dutyholder would have additional legal responsibility of providing policies and specific procedures together with resources to manage safety.
•The Regulations point out that it is good practice for a Governor to be appointed to have responsibility for Health and Safety and its’ management in school.
•There is a requirement under safety law and regulations for School Staff to be consulted in matters which affect their safety.At present this often done through teaching Union Reps.This is fine but it tends to discourage whole staff to participate in SMS.
A good way for this to happen is to enlist staff and pupils in a School Safety Committee which helps to run, and is part of, School SMS.
Accidents do happen?
Health and Safety compliance need not be a major burden. It simply needs to be put in place because accidents do happen and if they do they should be approached using a safety approach to learn from them and as opportunities to review Risk Assessment and reappraise control measures.
Accidents can be to pupils, staff or visitors/contractors and can result in litigation and/or prosecution. Accidents to children which have ended in litigation against schools have often been unsuccessful if accident has been shown to be a result of play.
The view taken by courts seems to be that play is necessary for a child’s development and sometimes this can result in accidents but school need not take undue or unreasonably costly action to avoid all accidents at all costs.
Even for accidents caused during horseplay courts have indicated that negligence or extreme recklessness needs to be demonstrably proven.
Reasonable safety is concept which is benchmark to judge response to safety matters against and provided school has reasonable systems in place which indicate that it is managing safety and using good practice it should be secure.
Prosecution and enforcing UK Safety Law.
HSE is body which inspects and enforces safety law.
Approximately 25% of all prosecutions for breaches which HSE made over last 5 years were attributed to breaches of management duties under Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.
Having said that action by HSE involving enforcement action against schools is rare and prosecution rarer still. There are approximately 80 breaches per year in Primary Schools.
Accidents are not so rare unfortunately and approximately 11,000 accidents were reported in Education under RIDDORS (3 day accidents) in 1999/2000 of which about one third were due to slips and trips.
Provided a school follows good practice and rules no one is likely to be at risk from enforcement or legal action.
That Staff, Governing Body and individual Governors need to support Headteacher in carrying out their duty under law and co-operate with any Employer is a given.The Head Teacher also needs to respond to H&S requiremnts of employer and law.
They can do this by ensuring that safety is managed in school under a Safety Management System. This ensures that school is in compliance with regulations.
The whole school needs to be seen to be playing its’ full part in any school Safety Management System.
The Employer and Governors by oversight and target setting, monitoring, auditing and reviewing, and ensuring that resources are available to help head manage school H&S. The Head Teacher by managing and implementing and overseeing SMS. The Staff by cop-operating, consultation and assistance in implementing systems. By doing this and everyone playing their full part that school overall safety will be improved and accident levels drop.
Dr. Paddy Swan is a qualified teacher with senior management experience in UK schools and colleges. He also has almost 25 years safety experience in industry. He has developed over 100 online and multimedia safe systems training solutions. Paddy is the author of School Basic Safety for Classroom and Support staff for UK schools and the Headteacher's Safety Management Toolkit at http://www.swaneducation.co.uk