Health and Safety in Schools

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Welcome to HSE’s eBulletin on health and safety in schools

This eBulletin is aimed at all those running, governing or working in schools.  Its purpose is to provide useful information on managing school health and safety risks across the range.  It will set out a sensible, proportionate approach.

We plan to issue this eBulletin once in each school term.

Teacher educating a group of children

School site transport safety

A prosecution following the conclusion of an HSE investigation highlights the risks associated with school transport and vehicle movements on site.  Tragically a fifteen-year-old boy was killed when he was struck by a minibus on his way to catch his bus at the end of the school day.  Bridgend County Borough Council was fined £300,000.  For more information please visit the HSE Website.

This case highlights the need to regularly review risk assessments and arrangements for vehicle movements on school sites and revisit them when circumstances change.  Schools should seek to ensure that sites are organised to separate pedestrians from vehicles and that pathways and routes reflect “desire lines” - the routes most people will choose to take.  It is particularly important that schools have systems in place for reporting near misses to inform improvements and monitor their control measures to ensure that they remain effective.  Staff with responsibilities for planning, assessing risk and managing transport movements on site should be sufficiently supported, trained and competent to do so. Further guidance can be found on the HSE website.


Work with radioactive sources in schools

The Ionising Radiation Regulations 2017 (IRR17) which came into force in January 2018 introduced a risk-based requirement for dutyholders using radiation sources to register their use with the Health and Safety Executive. The regulations require anyone using radiation sources to notify, register or gain consent via a new online portal.

To date HSE have received declarations from over 2,000 schools, colleges and universities.  Schools that have not yet made the appropriate declaration are reminded to do so as soon as possible to ensure compliance with the Regulations.

The registration process is straightforward.  CLEAPPS have put together a step-by-step guide for schools (GL258) which contains screen shots from the portal that may help you.

Schools that previously informed the HSE about work with radioactive sources prior to the 1st January 2018 must re-notify us and pay the relevant registration fee.  Further details can be found on the HSE website.


Heavy Stone/Concrete outdoor furniture

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has identified concerns associated with the stability of some outdoor furniture sets marketed for use in school grounds and public settings.  HSE enquires are on-going; however we are keen to share the concerns in the interest of public safety.

The concerns relate to a table and bench set in which a solid timber table top is supported by a stone or concrete plinth at each end.  The table top connection is concealed and secured with an adhesive resin-based fixative.  The plinths may or may not be partially secured to the ground using a similar adhesive.  The stability of the table is dependent upon the integrity and strength of the connection between the plinths and the table top and therefore needs to be installed correctly.

Schools and others who make furniture available for wider use should assess their own tables to ensure that they remain safe for use.  The table should be solid and rigid.  It should be on level ground and should not deflect, or wobble, if pushed firmly from one end by an adult.  If the table wobbles, this may mean that the connection is absent or has failed, and the table is unsafe.  If it is possible for an adult to lift the table top off the plinths, then this may also mean that the table is unsafe. (Do not use excessive force when testing the table in situ).

Consideration should be given to how to monitor the condition of such furniture over time, and whether/when/how to repair or replace such furniture if necessary.  If in doubt users should seek advice from their manufacturer/supplier/installer.


Buildings containing reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC)

HSE is reinforcing a wider call for proportionate management arrangements for buildings containing RAAC.  A recent component failure has highlighted the need for building owners and duty holders to identify buildings incorporating RAAC planks and take action where necessary.

RAAC precast floor and roof components were used in the construction of a range of buildings including schools built between the mid-1950s and the 1980s.  Relevant buildings should be inspected, and their condition assessed to ensure that monitoring and maintenance arrangements are adequate.  Consideration should be given to replacing any roofs still in existence.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has produced information on RAAC identifying the steps bodies responsible for schools should take.  The document signposts further links which may assist with the identification of these materials and further technical information.


3D printing

3D printers are becoming more widely used within schools and colleges however, there is now evidence that there are health and safety risks associated with the process of forming 3D objects.  The printers use filaments to deposit polymer through a heated nozzle to build three dimensional objects.  Desktop printers are generally unenclosed, and concerns have been raised in respect of exposure to potentially harmful fumes and particles.

HSE research has informed new CLEAPSS guidance on controlling the risks.  Exposures can be significantly reduced by: setting a lower printer nozzle temperature, using a filament with a lower emission rate, and placing the printer within an enclosure fitted with a particulate filter and extraction arrangements.


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