The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is a UK government agency responsible for the encouragement, regulation and enforcement of workplace health, safety and welfare, and for research into occupational risks in Great Britain.
HSE works with Education stakeholders across the UK to ensure that education duty holders are managing any significant risks arising from school activities and from the school premises eg meeting the requirements to manage asbestos, slips and trips.
The HSE encourages stakeholders to adopt a common sense approach to risk management; schools are about providing children with a range of valuable learning experiences within which risks should be managed proportionately and sensibly.
HSE's eBulletin on health and safety in schools
Each term the HSE release an eBulletin aimed at those running, governing or working in schools. Its purpose is to provide useful information on managing school health and safety risks across the range and it will set out a sensible, proportionate approach.
You can sign-up to the bulletin here
Safety of school fixtures and fittings
In the latest bulletin, the HSE is highlighting the need for schools to ensure that furniture and equipment such as shelving, display boards, cupboards and lockers are maintained in good condition and are secured to prevent them falling or toppling and causing injury.
To support this they have developed a classroom checklist, which can be used to provide reassurance to teaching staff that the most common areas of risk in the classroom are being adequately controlled.
The condition of any fixings and fastenings should be monitored at appropriate intervals to ensure they remain effective. Arrangements and safeguards should be checked where classrooms have been refurbished, where new equipment has been provided or where furniture and equipment has been moved.
Additional consideration should be given to drama and sports facilities, specialist classrooms, including laboratories technology facilities and pupil referral rooms.
It is particularly important to ensure that benches used in science laboratories are secure and stable and the worktops properly attached. The potential for excessive movement can damage the gas supply pipework. (This was one of the top 10 hazards found during school science audits reported by CLEAPSS).
Local exhaust ventilation in schools
HSE has become aware of several concerns regarding poor ventilation leading to the build-up of fume within science facilities. The causes have included exhaust ducting from fume cabinets not being installed correctly or not being maintained and checked for continued effectiveness. A suitable thorough examination would have discovered the faults identified.
Guidance on LEV and how to maintain it can be found on the HSE website.
First published 08 November 2019