You may have seen in the news a few weeks ago the details of a very sad court case about a woman who died after she fell during a visit to a school. This sad case raised concerns over the health and safety in schools.
When Health and Safety in Schools goes wrong – Prosecution Case
Peterborough Magistrates’ Court heard that on 17 February 2017, a family member attended The Leys & St Faith’s Foundation School in Cambridge to watch an evening performance. While walking towards the hall the woman tripped over a small retaining wall and fell to the ground sustaining a serious head injury. She died six days later in hospital.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the school had failed to ensure the area was adequately lit. A pedestrian site safety assessment failed to identify the risk of tripping over the wall and did not take into consideration the lighting conditions or potential effect of poor lighting on pedestrian safety at night.
The Leys and St Faith’s Foundation School of Fenn Causeway, Trumpington Road, Cambridge, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. They were fined £52,800 and ordered to pay costs of £10,040.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Graham Tompkins said: “This tragic incident was easily preventable, and the risk should have been identified.
“The school should have taken measures to improve lighting and install a handrail on top of the wall to increase the overall height.”
Protecting students, staff and visitors from harm is not only a legal responsibility for health and safety in schools – it is also seen as a measure of their success as it forms part of their Ofsted rating.
What should you consider for health and safety in schools?
There are a wide range of issues to consider when it comes to health and safety in schools. A standard – though far from exhaustive – list of things for schools to be on top of when it comes to health and safety in schools including:
- Line management responsibilities
- Arrangements for site inspections
- Arrangements for consulting and involving employees
- Staff health and safety training
- Recording and reporting of accidents to staff, pupils and visitors
- Dealing with emergencies
- First aid for staff and pupils
- Managing asbestos in school buildings
- Occupational health services.
However, this list doesn’t even begin to cover a wide variety of things that are integral to the day-to-day running of schools such as policies and procedures for residential visits and school-led adventure activities, policies for physical education and, more recently, Covid-secure and social distancing measures.
It can be daunting for headteachers and school managers to get to grips with the health and safety in schools requirement placed upon them. To put it into context a quick search of the HSE website for health and safety in schools advice returns nearly 4,000 results.
How can you get help with your health and safety in schools?
At Acorn Safety Services, our Health and Safety Consultants have experience in all aspects of health and safety in schools and have supported businesses across a wide variety of sectors, as well as all types of educational facilities. We do everything from risk assessments and gap analysis to training, policy writing, site audits and fire risk assessments.
Our track record is second to none and as a result, any organisation that works with us – including schools, colleges and universities – can be confident that we have the expertise, knowledge and experience to assist them.
Now is a particularly good time for educational establishments to get in touch with us as the long summer break provides an ideal time for any physical health and safety work that needs to be carried out on site.
If you have links to a school, college or university that needs health and safety advice they are welcome to visit our website at https://acornhealthandsafety.co.uk/ or contact us at email@example.com or on 01604 930380 today.