All schools are required to comply with certain legal requirements (specifically the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974).
Employers in education have lots to consider, including staff, pupils and any visitors to the school, such as volunteers and contractors.
Keep reading to learn more about health and safety compliance in schools, including the main responsibilities and health and safety elements in schools, as well as enforcing health and safety in schools.
Health and Safety Legislation in Schools
Schools should be a safe place for pupils, visitors, and staff alike - which is why risk management is so important.
Failing to comply with the relevant legislation can not only put people at risk, but be detrimental to the school itself.
Children’s Act 2004
The Children’s Act 2004 is legislation designed to protect children, so is relevant in a school environment.
Anybody who works with children is legally obliged to comply with this act, which means they should know how children should be legally looked after.
This includes helping children succeed, making a positive contribution to children’s lives, and of course, ensuring the safety of children in any and every environment. This means that the act still applies on school trips and outside the school grounds.
According to the Children’s Act 2004, if you work with children, it’s your responsibility to help children to be happy, as well as physically and mentally healthy. People who work with children can’t always prevent incidents or mental issues, but should do what they can in compliance with the act.
At Beaconrisk, we offer expert Competent Health & Safety Advice to ensure that you’re in a position to help children be safe in school.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
One of the key pieces of legislation that schools need to abide by is the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
It applies to every workplace in all industries - including schools. However, in schools, it also applies to the pupils. Employers in education are legally required to ensure pupils aren’t exposed to health and safety risks - and in the case that this isn’t possible for certain activities, then the activities shouldn’t go ahead.
For example, if a school trip is deemed unsafe and those in charge aren’t able to identify or mitigate risk, then the trip shouldn’t go ahead. The same applies to sports and other extracurricular activities.
Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981
The Health and Safety (first aid) Regulations 1981 requires employers in education to ensure that first aid is considered.
In every school, there should be functional and up-to-date first aid equipment and facilities. There should also be appointed on-site first aiders, as well as a first-aid appointed person if a first aider is unavailable.
Key H&S Elements for Schools
Health and safety policy is always separated into four different elements and schools should consider this in every health and safety plan.
Plan - Employers, teachers, and anybody with a higher level of responsibility in a school environment should plan - to set the right direction to ensure effective H&S management.
Do - They should also do - which involves implementing systems and procedures to ensure risks are dealt with in the right way.
Check - Another element is check - which involves monitoring and reporting any health and safety risks and issues.
Act - The relevant people in the education sector should conduct regular management reviews on the school’s health and safety performance.
Health and safety policies should include a statement of the policy, including who is responsible for which task. It should also include any arrangements for risk assessments, including ways in which risk will be controlled and reduced.
The school’s competent person should work with the employer and the appointed H&S advisors to ensure the policy is correct, effective, and up to date.
Enforcing H&S in Schools
Although employers and those who work inside the school have a responsibility to ensure health and safety procedures are correctly followed, part of the responsibility lies with the HSE and local authorities.
When it comes to enforcing health and safety in schools, most of it comes down to the local authorities and the HSE.
Inspectors will attend the school to ensure that health and safety protocol is followed and they will deal with any breaches of the law.