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Safer Schools Bulletin September 2013

Legal Updates:

Changes to the RIDDOR Regulations (June 2013):

"Following recommendations in the Lofstedt report, the HSE consulted on proposals for new, simplified regulations. As a result, the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 have now been approved and come into force on 1 October 2013.

Main changes

The main changes made by these Regulations are:

  • a simplified and shortened list of specified reportable injuries ("major injuries") to workers sustained as a result of a work-related accident
  • a clarified and shortened list of reportable dangerous occurrences (near-miss events)
  • a simplified and significantly shortened list of reportable ill-health conditions in workers (replacing 47 specified ill-health conditions with 8 categories of work related diseases)
  • a simplified list of dangerous occurrences within the rail-sector, and removal of the requirement to report suicides on railways.

No changes are being made to:

  • recording requirements
  • reports of fatal accidents
  • reports of accidents involving non-workers including members of the public
  • reports of accidents which incapacitate workers for more than seven days
  • requirements to preserve certain incident sites at mines, quarries and offshore workplaces pending investigation and subject to overriding safety needs.

Minor changes in wording have been made to the requirements for reporting gas hazards and injuries. It remains a defence in proceedings to prove that the organisation was unaware of the circumstances which gave rise to a reporting requirement, provided they have taken reasonable steps to be made aware.

A new regulation (15) restricts the need to report the same incident twice provided that all the information required in respect of the multiple reporting requirements has been given and timescales are met.

Further guidance will be published by the HSE prior to October, including a new version of guidance document L73."

(United Business Media, Barbour 2013)

First aid guidance published ahead of regulation changes (September 2013):

"A month ahead of changes to first aid regulations, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published guidance to help businesses put in place appropriate arrangements for the provision of first aid.

From 1 October 2013, the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 will be amended, to remove the requirement for HSE to approve first aid training and qualifications.  The changes are part of HSE's work to make it easier for businesses and other users to understand how to comply with health and safety law, whilst maintaining standards. They apply to businesses of all sizes and from all sectors.

Andy McGrory, HSE's policy lead for First Aid, said: "From October, HSE will no longer approve first-aid training and qualifications. The guidance documents clarify what the law requires and provide practical help to businesses in assessing and understanding their first aid needs. Where a first aider is required, the guidance documents make it clear that the employer is free to select a training provider who is best suited to those needs.

"We have taken onboard comments and suggestions that we have received through our public consultations on the changes and from extended stakeholder discussions and business input to ensure the guidance provides everything an employer will need to manage their first aid requirements."

Advance copies of 'The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981', 'Regulations and Guidance (L74)' and 'Selecting a first-aid training provider (GEIS3)' are now available on the HSE website.

L74 is aimed at all industries and takes account of the amendment to regulation 3(2), which removes the requirement for HSE to approve the training and qualifications of appointed first-aid personnel, and incorporates some additional amendments brought about by other previous legislative changes. Find a copy of the guidance at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l74.htm

GEIS3 will help employers identify and select a competent training provider to deliver any first-aid training indicated by their first-aid needs assessment. The guidance on selecting a training provider outlines the options available to employers and includes a checklist for evaluating first aid training organisations, covering trainer competence, quality assurance systems and syllabus content. Find a copy of the guidance at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/geis3.htm

Public consultation, extended stakeholder discussions and input from businesses of all sizes demonstrated general support for the proposed guidance.  Legislative changes have been approved by the HSE Board and by Parliament.  The legal requirement for employers to ensure they make adequate provision for first aid, in accordance with their first aid needs assessment, will remain unchanged."

(http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2013/hse-first-aid-guidance.htm)

Accidents/Incidents:

Advanced rock-climbing lessons banned after pupil's 4m fall (June 2013):

An Essex high school has been fined for safety failings after a 14-year-old boy fell more than four metres from a climbing wall. The teenager was one of four pupils selected to try their first-ever 'lead climb', a more advanced, mainly rock-climbing technique, during a PE lesson at Manningtree High School on 17 October 2012.

He had managed to clip on to three points as he ascended the climbing wall but struggled with the fourth. A fellow pupil, similarly inexperienced, had been told to 'belay' the rope for the boy, keeping it taut or feeding more as necessary. After the climber grew tired, the instructor told him to let go of the climbing wall, which he did. However, instead of being supported by the belay technique, he fell unrestrained over four metres and hit the safety mat on the floor. The pupil, now 15, suffered a fractured heel bone, which was later pinned and plated.

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted Manningtree High School today (7 June) at Colchester Magistrates' Court.

HSE found that prior to the lesson none of the four pupils were aware what lead-climbing was or the risks involved and none had been properly trained or prepared for the more advanced type of climbing that was being attempted.

In addition the school failed to have an adequate safety management system in place for lead-climbing, and the instructor was not competent to teach or supervise lead-climbing.

Manningtree High School, of Colchester Road, Manningtree, was fined £9,000 and ordered to pay £1,641 in costs after pleading guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for failing to adequately protect the pupils against the risk of falls.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Glyn Davies said:

"A teenage boy sustained a totally preventable injury that required an operation, saw him on crutches for more than 14 weeks, and from which he is still recovering. Inexperienced pupils receiving climbing instruction during PE lessons are completely reliant for their safety on the competence of their climbing instructor and the adequacy of the school's safety management system. Unfortunately in this case pupils were let down by Manningtree High School's failure to ensure the climbing activity was carried out safely and sadly this resulted in one pupil getting hurt."

Advice and information on health and safety in schools www.hse.gov.uk/services/education and from national and local government.

(Issued on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive by the Regional News Network)

News:

Schools' five-year bill for injury claims tops £800,000 (August 2013)

Accidents involving children have cost schools in Wales more than £800,000 in damages over the last five years, a Freedom of Information request by BBC Wales has found.

The figures, released by Welsh councils, show that between 2008/09 and 2012/13 schools in the country were subject to 312 successful claims following injuries to pupils.

Payouts included £10,500 for a pupil "playfully pushed" into a window and £1000 for hot food splashing a child. Other cases related to a child running into goal posts and the incorrect application of first aid.

Welsh Conservatives' shadow education minister Angela Burns AM accepted that some claims were genuine but that many were "ridiculous" claims submitted for money-making purposes.

"There's an awful lot of ridiculous stuff going on," she said. "Don't we want our children to grow up to be healthy and enjoy being outdoors? It's about balance and common sense."

But Rex Phillips, Wales organiser at teachers' union NASUWT, said: "The success, or otherwise, of compensation claims depends on whether or not negligence can be proved in the context of what constitutes foreseeable risk. It comes down to the difference between what constitutes a genuine accident and what is an accident waiting to happen.  

"Moving to the no-blame culture that Angela Burns appears to be promoting is irreconcilable with her view that this is about balance and common sense." He added that the system must allow those with legitimate claims to be able to claim the compensation to which they are entitled.

Many other commentators argue that the existence of a compensation culture is based on misconception.

Earlier this year, Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson told members of a student law society: "The courts have certainly not taken an approach that has lowered the standard of care, made it easier to establish negligence, or introduced a test that allows claims to succeed in the absence of fault (except, of course, where the law imposes strict liability). For a compensation culture properly to take hold, there would have to be a major shift in our substantive law."

(http://www.shponline.co.uk/home/news/full/schools'-five-year-bill-for-injury-claims-tops-£800-000)

Policy and Procedures Update:

Health and Safety Duty Holder Responsibilities:

As part of the continuing Health and Safety support and development for schools, we have successfully completed audits and developed Health and Safety policies, systems and Risk Assessments.

I thought it would be helpful to raise the profile of 'duty holder' responsibilities as there have been a number of incidents recently involving accidental exposure to asbestos and the accidental release/build up of gas. I am sure that you will feel the same concerns as I do about the need to mitigate the risk of incidents of this type.

These types of incidents appear to happen for a number of reasons - including:

  • Poor planning of work;
  • Misunderstanding of surveys and information; and
  • Delegating authority to contractors that may not have the necessary competence.

As you will be aware, head teachers and governors, by virtue of their wider health and safety responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, have 'duty holder' responsibilities. In all cases, the 'duty holders' are the people that have clear responsibility for the maintenance or repair of the school. Duty holders can seek support in discharging their obligations through the employment of competent organisations.

In essence, 'duty holders' are required to take reasonable steps to make sure that the buildings, equipment and materials are safe and do not put the health of users and visitors at risk.

The actual degree of responsibility may vary, depending on who the employer is and whether it is a community school, trust school or voluntary aided school. This responsibility remains with the duty holder but varying degrees of support are available that may help discharge or mitigate an element of responsibility.

In those maintained schools where the Council is the employer, head teachers and boards of governors have the delegated responsibility for ensuring the adequate provision of Health and Safety within their individual school. On a daily basis this responsibility falls to the head teacher as a 'duty holder'.  A similar relationship applies between the governing body, as employer and head teachers in voluntary aided and trust schools.

Some areas which have caused particular concern both locally and nationally relate to the management of high risk areas. I have detailed these in the attached table which also summarises your responsibilities as the 'duty holder'. I hope that you will find this table useful.

Support is always available from the Health and Safety Team and, where schools are within the SLA 'Gold' buy-back contract, Asset Management and Design can provide a range of support services. Through working together we believe we will reduce the risk of incidents occurring. Furthermore, schools that buy back into the Council services at Gold level will know that works undertaken for them by Asset Management and Design will be controlled and monitored to ensure contractors and procedures meet all legislative requirements both for health and safety and statutory requirements.

In the autumn term we will be arranging seminars to discuss these areas in more detail and, where required, arrange more specific training around these subjects. The aim of these seminars is to provide you with additional support, further information, advice and guidance.

Should you have any queries regarding the content of this correspondence, or if you require any advice, please do not hesitate to contact Asset Management and Design or Occupational Health and Safety, BTST on Tel 0800 1693454.

 Training:

The 'Borough Day' 25th October 2013 covers a wide range of health and safety and curriculum based training sessions from 'Asbestos Awareness' to 'Teaching Early Reading'.  The 'Borough Day Inset Training Programme' will be available shortly, for further details contact 'Chuter Ede Support' .

Help and Feedback:

If you have any questions about the issues raised or if I can help in any other way, please do not hesitate to contact me.

We would also welcome your feedback generally on this publication and any key topics you would like to see in the next edition.

Further information:

Education Health and Safety Adviser 0800 169 3454 or internal 9 3454

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