Health and Safety
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 places duties on EMPLOYERS to safeguard, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of their employees (Section 2) and the health and safety of persons not employed but who may be affected by work activities such as pupils and visitors (Section 3). Employers also have additional duties under other health and safety legislation such as the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations.
Note: In certain categories of school the employer is the Governing Body.
Persons who have CONTROL OF PREMISES have duties to take reasonable measures to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that premises and equipment are safe for people using them who are not their employees, eg pupils and visitors (Section 4).
Note: Governing Bodies are likely to have duties under Section 4 depending upon the degree of control they have.
EMPLOYEES have duties to take reasonable care to ensure that they work in ways which are safe without risk to health both to themselves and other staff, pupils and visitors. They must also co-operate so that employers can comply with their statutory duties (Section 7).
A Governing Body has important powers and duties in controlling school premises and running schools. However, the Authority remains technically the employer of staff (except Aided and Foundation Schools). Therefore, both Governors and the Authority continue to have statutory responsibility for health and safety. In view of this it is particularly important that Governing Bodies, the Authority and individual employees work together to establish health and safety objectives and to ensure that each is aware of their own responsibilities, with the aim of running their school without risk to health and safety.
The Authority fulfils its responsibilities in the following ways:
- The issue of a HEALTH AND SAFETY POLICY.
- The issue of codes of practice, including a School Safety Manual, as appropriate.
- The provision of a comprehensive support and advice service.
- The provision of a comprehensive training programme.
- The provision of a monitoring system for schools.
- The provision of a safety audit service.
The Governing Body will ensure that:
- The Authority's HEALTH AND SAFETY POLICY and codes of practice are fully implemented and, to ensure compliance, are monitored on a regular basis in accordance with the Authority's Monitoring Scheme;
- The school produces its own safety policy to supplement the Authority's policy, and that the policy is regularly reviewed. (In Aided and Foundation Schools the Governing Body is under the duty to maintain a Health and Safety policy but may find it helpful to base their policy on the Authority's);
- A Health and Safety Committee is established or health and safety is included in the terms of reference of an existing Committee, or an individual on the Governing Body is designated with specific health and safety responsibilities.
The Governing Body is required to pay particular attention to the provision and maintenance of:
- The safety of plant equipment, buildings and safe systems of work.
- Safety arrangements for the use, handling, storage and transport of articles and substances.
- Appropriate information, instruction, training and supervision to assist all staff and pupils to avoid hazards and contribute positively to their own health and safety whilst on school premises.
- A safe workplace and safe access and egress.
- A healthy working environment.
- Procedures for fire evacuation, first aid cover and other emergency situations.
- Suitable and sufficient risk assessment as appropriate.
- Adequate welfare facilities and suitable protective clothing and equipment.
- Arrangements for the safe introduction of new plant, machinery, substances and procedures.