Helping you manage health and safety in schools - Free checklist included.
Updated: Jan 4
How is health and safety for schools monitored and maintained?
Our goal as parents is to ensure that our children attend school in a safe environment. Similarly, teachers should make sure that their students are protected during class hours as well. As a result, schools need to comply with appropriate health and safety regulations so that their students and staff will be safe.
But how can colleges, schools, and academies implement health and safety measures?
A school is not just made up of students, teachers, and the headteacher - many governing bodies, charities, and employers also support the school. Generally, the employer is the one who decides what health and safety rules to implement. This could be a local government, local authority, charity, or company. A reasonable risk management plan must be in place to ensure children and staff are not exposed to unnecessary risks.
To ensure a safe learning environment, classrooms must meet the following basic health & safety requirements (among others).
A few of these are:
Slips, trips, and falls – For instance, ensuring that corridors and walkways are clear, and highlighting uneven areas of the floor. A slip, trip, or fall is the most common non-fatal accident at work, according to HSE statistics for 2020. School absences and financial losses can result from non-fatal accidents. An accident that results in death is even more tragic.
Fire – A fire evacuation procedure should be displayed, along with firefighting equipment. A fire can have devastating effects on a school's health and safety, which is why prevention measures are critical.
Furniture and fixtures – Assuring that cabinets, bookshelves, display boards, and shelving are securely fastened and maintained. As a result, serious injuries cannot be caused by falling or collapsing.
On top of the basic requirements, non-classroom areas of a school (such as canteens, corridors, playing fields, etc.) also have their own risks. Your health and safety training should make you aware of these risks - and how to avoid them. In a school, all staff plays an important role in preventing and managing health and safety hazards.
Who is Responsible for Health and Safety Policy in Schools?
In most cases, your school's employer is responsible for its health and safety policy, which is either the local authority, the governing body, or the academy trust.
However, the headteacher has the everyday responsibility of ensuring that the school is following the employer’s health and safety policy, as well as arranging staff training, and briefing them on their roles and the school-specific risks. On occasion, in some schools, bursars or business managers have health and safety responsibilities, and department heads or curriculum leaders can advise about risks in their area.
Keeping on top of health and safety in your school is an essential requirement – failing to do so could not only lead to unfortunate and unwanted accidents, but also financial costs, increased work-related absences, teaching delays, and damage to the school’s reputation. Given that school premises are more often being used for other local community services, the consequences of unmet health and safety provision standards have been further amplified.
You may find it difficult to complete a school-wide risk assessment and update your health and safety policy. A lack of motivation can lead to a large workload and delays in performing a thorough, regular health and safety check, increasing the chance of an unwanted accident occurring.
To avoid this issue and save time for your school – we have linked a short health and safety checklist. This checklist can be used in every classroom at any time to ensure that it meets minimum health and safety standards, and it is easy to update if anything changes in the classroom. The school management team can then use this information to inform their broader risk assessment, flagging any concerns or incidents immediately so that instead of dealing with an accident if it occurs – you’re preventing it altogether.
Note that the checklist is not mandatory to complete but is intended as a helpful way to assist you in meeting the terms of the health and safety legal requirements. It is not a substitute for a formal risk assessment, which the employer is only responsible for carrying out and keeping up to date.
Base Solutions also offer competent Health & Safety advice and guidance. Just give us a call or send us a message via our website.
Tel: 020 3976 9478