Health and safety responsibilities in schools derive in the main from the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and associated regulations. Health and safety duties and responsibilities apply to employers of school staff and employees. In practice employers may delegate specific health and safety tasks to individuals, but the employer retains the ultimate responsibility no matter who carries out the tasks. The employer should therefore maintain records, making clear who is responsible for tasks and confirming that they are being carried out effectively. The health and safety of staff, pupils and visitors while on school premises or involved in school-organised activities (e.g. educational visits) must be protected as far as is reasonably practicable. Risk assessments should be undertaken for all activities and measures put in place to minimise or control risks. If schools fail to develop and implement the necessary health and safety policies this can have serious consequences. The case of an 11 year old pupil who died from an asthma attack after being left in a school corridor by a teacher is a tragic example of this. The inquest into this death delivered a verdict of ‘death by natural causes, contributed to significantly by neglect’. The hearing highlighted a lack of policy and training at the school on the nature of asthma, and what school staff are required to do to protect pupils in their care. It is therefore of paramount importance that schools:
•have appropriate health and safety policies in place which clearly explain the school’s duties and responsibilities •review and monitor compliance with these policies, and
•ensure that all staff receives the appropriate training and development to deliver these policies and discharge the school’s responsibilities effectively. The Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974
This act places the responsibility of ensuring the health and safety and welfare of employees, with the employer. The main ways that...