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Health and safety in schools: Legal requirements

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

Requires employers to ensure the health and safety of their employees and others who may be affected by their work activities.

This includes taking measures to control slip and trip risks. Under the HSW Act employees are required not to endanger themselves or others, to co­operate with their employer and to use any safety equipment provided by their employer.

Manufacturers and suppliers have a duty to ensure that their products are safe. Adequate information about the appropriate use of products must also be provided. More recent regulations emphasise the importance of such measures.

The Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977

Safety representatives appointed under these Regulations must be consulted on health and safety matters.

They must also be given access to information relevant to the health and safety of the workers they represent, including any information relating to potentially hazardous conditions, such as slip and trip risks.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992

Contains requirements relating to the construction of floors and traffic routes and to the need to keep them clean and free of obstructions.

A major refurbishment or new building work is an opportunity to eliminate slip and trip hazards. Such work may be subject to the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM Regulations).

The Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996

Requires employers to consult with workers, either directly or indirectly through elected representatives, on matters relating to their health and safety at work.

Safety representatives can help employers with both the development and implementation of a slip and trip risks policy. They will be able to identify risks in the workplace and bring the workers' perspective to the policy­making process.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (the Management Regulations)

Requires employers to assess risks (including slip and trip risks) to their employees and other people (pupils, students, contractors, visitors to the premises etc) arising from work activities.

Education employers should be able to demonstrate they have effectively considered the risks and instituted suitable control measures. They also need to ensure that the measures they have taken are effective. They should investigate any significant slip and trip incidents.

Employees have a duty to report any situation that might present a serious and imminent danger and they should also notify employers of any shortcomings in the health and safety arrangements.

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