The health and safety at work act 1974 was created to assist to protect those in a work environment to reduce potential accidents that may occur. Schools have their own individual polices and procedures that are in place that are to be followed by the employee. The health and safety at work act is implemented into these policies and procedures ensuring that health and safety regulations are met. There are also many other legislations that are in place to protect the employer, employee and students.
When planning health and safety indoors and outdoors there are numerous influences to take into consideration. To assure that all students and staff feel safe and protected from any potential risks and hazards. When preparing an educational setting we need to make sure that the inside and outside environment is adequately equipped for the activities that the student and staff are partaking.
Things to consider when planning the indoor and outdoor environment are:
When risk assessing an indoor space, you need to consider that all furniture is in good working order and the right size proportion for the children and staff. Guaranteeing that the space itself is a big enough or small enough for its required use. Also, that there is suitable accessibility for all that may require access to the space for limited mobility, visual impairments and more. Allowing good lighting throughout the school, assisting those with limited vision or hearing impairments. Also guaranteeing there are safe routes out of the school if required in emergency situations or lesson changes, attempting to reduce congestion on stairwells. For example this can be helped to achieve by having different times for lesson changes or lunches/breaks for different departments of the school. Allowing access around the whole of the school is at ease for all staff and students in addition that there is always access to toilets and drinking water. The overall temperature of the school is at comfortable rage for all, especially those of a limited mobility as colder temperatures would affect individuals more. Taking into consideration the child’s individual needs and health needs where needed. Specialist teaching areas such as science classrooms, art department and cookery rooms are equipped with all above and additional equipment that meet all health and safety requirements. Supplies for specialist teaching areas are handled with extra care as this could be chemicals from the science department certifying that the risk assessments for these items are followed with extra precision as some items may have the potential to cause harm. All electrical equipment around the school needs to be PAT tested once a year to keep within the health and safety requirements. Resources for lessons are safe to use and safe working practices are followed ensuring the safety of both staff and students involved. Staff are required to attend training on a regular basis continually working on staff development and knowledge enabling them to support students throughout their school day. Staff are to look at staff to student ratios making sure that students are kept safe during their school day. As a whole school risk assessments are to be reviewed on a regular basis if there are any concerns about current risk assessments this should be reported to the health and safety officer. If there are any issues during the school day that can’t be resolved straight away the unsafe area should be sectioned off to ensure students safety.
Enabling students to access outside space is important for their own development ensuring that they make healthy friendships during the educational experience. As an organisation the surface area should be fit for purpose as the outside space can be used at break and lunch times and during lessons such a PE. Some schools have different surface areas for different parts of their outside space such as artificial grass, real grass, bark, wetpour rubber ect, using some of these surfaces can reduce slips trips and falls. Although if someone falls on these surfaces it is at a lower risk than alternative surfaces the injury is potentially minimised. When working with children with Special educational needs there needs to be additional work around the outside areas as these student may require more time outside due to their needs, in this instance ensuring that the correct fencing is crucial as some student could put themselves at risk by leaving the school premises. This can happen if a student doesn’t have the capacity to realise that their actions can put them in serious harm. Ensuring that the staff to student ratios are in place during all outside activities as it is harder to receive support whilst outside. Staff are given a radio to communicate with the behaviour support team if necessary during lunch and brake times.
It is essential to continuously monitor health and safety guaranteeing that systems in place are followed and health and safety is maintained throughout the school. There is a health and safety lead that continuously reviews the current risk assessments and implements new ones when needed and necessary. All staff have a duty of care to the children at the school therefore health and safety is everyone’s responsibility. If a staff member has a concern about a current hazard they have detected, they should report this to the health and safety officer and raise their concerns.
There are risk assessments in place for many areas around the school such as; in the classroom, outside playground, gym area, cooking classroom, horticulture and many more, all of these have potential risks. For instance
• Is there enough room for the students and staff to move around safely
• Is the furniture and flooring good working order eg tables chairs flooring (no trip hazards)
• electrical equipment no tangled wires PAT testing in date
• coats and bags put away
• Students leaning back on chairs, rocking chair in place to reduce risk of falling
• Slips trips and falls- surface area safe for its purpose (rubber mulch, wetpour surface)
• Gym equipment in good working order
• Staff visible whilst on the playground so students are able to identify easy
Although reducing the potential of risks is important, it is also important to allow the students to make their own judgment as this will assist them in later life when monitoring and maintaining their own risk management. Allowing students, it assess the risks themselves with some staff support assists with their own development allowing them to make decisions on their own skills and strengths in turn boosting their self esteem and confidence. Sometimes staff will need to intervene as the risk is too high to allow the student to proceed with the choice they have made.
All children and young people have the right to make their own choices although we also have a duty of care to keep the child safe. This will assist children with their learning and development. In 1989 UNCRC a legally binding international agreement was passed and to date there are 194 countries that follow the current document. This was put in place to ensure that children have the right to survival, protection and education.
A child should be able to choose if they would like to go outside at lunch time or stay inside, although if the weather is exceptionally bad then staff are to intervene and explain to the student that they could potentially get ill from spending time outside. Lunchtime clubs are put in place to give children the choice to go outside or stay inside.