School Governors - Managing Health and Safety in your School.
What you need to know. If you read nothing else about Health and Safety read this. It’s about 1500 words long but it summarises what you need to know about UK Health and Safety laws and regulations in your school.
Changes to Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations(1999) (MSHW) as laid out in Regulations and their Guidance have laid specific responsibilities on School dutyholders to manage Health and Safety.
They need to do this by managing within a system. This is School Safety Management System(SMS) and every school should have one.
Community, Community Special and Voluntary Controlled School Governors are NOT dutyholders as described under Health and Safety laws.
Who and what are dutyholders?
•Dutyholders are people with control over school safety. They are people who face enforcement action in event of anything going wrong. oIn main these are Employer and Headteacher. oIn any event Headteacher is person in control of site and a dutyholder in any school.
However, Governors in Community schools have control over budgets and need to support head teacher, who is “person responsible for site”, and main site dutyholder
•The LEA, Foundation and/or school may be Employer and is a Body Corporate for purposes of Safety law and its’ enforcement. oThat individuals as well as school may be subject of enforcement if they do not carry out their duties. Other Governing Bodies, Directors and Trustees and individuals may be dutyholders, as far as they exercise function of employer in Foundation, Private or Voluntary Aided Schools.
What are requirements to manage safety? •The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations defined that all schools needed to manage safety. Thus any school needs to have a system for carrying out its’ H&S duties and also for reviewing safety matters in case situations change within school . This is School Safety Management System (SMS) and Governors need to be part of this system. • The SMS needs to be used to manage safety actively as part of School’s normal operations. Having an SMS and operating it is part of normal work of school and should be accommodated in resources and budgets within school framework. The SMS is framework within which school needs to address all its’ Health and Safety duties.
What are main H&S duties for school :
•Risk Assessment - The School needs assess all its’ risks and put control measures put in place to reduce them. This means that a Risk Assessment System needs to be part of school SMS. •Training - The H&S duties also mean that School needs to train and give information /instruction to its’ staff and some visitors. These H&S duties mean that school needs to be able to deem staff competent to play their part in system. It also needs to deliver job specific training and/or instruction. •Policies and Procedures – The school needs to have a School health and Safety Policy and suitable procedures which should flow from risk assessments made. It is expected that all policies and procedures will be developed with input from, and consultation of ,staff. The Policy and Procedures need to be available to staff and should be reviewed regularly. •Personal protective Equipment (PPE) – Flowing from school Risk Assessment System control measure 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. •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 works. that all Risk Assessments, Policies, Procedures etc are appropriate to specific circumstances of school.
What are duties of Governors under 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. •Under Regulations there is a requirement under Safety law for School Staff to be consulted . oA 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?