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Safer Schools Bulletin September 2015

Policy Update:

With the introduction of the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) all schools were contacted in July updating them with their new duties - please see below details of letter:

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 and raised the profile of 'duty holder' responsibilities.

With the recent changes to CDM 2015 we need to be clear what this means to schools when undertaking construction work.

Under the new regulations, schools commissioning any works fall under the category of Client and should be aware of the extra duties and obligations now placed upon them. It is vital for schools to understand the implications of these new regulations, as the duties are far more onerous and specific than they were previously.

What is changing?

CDM 2015 places responsibility on three main duty holders:

  1. Client: the new regulations recognise the influence and importance of the Client as the head of the supply chain and that they are best placed to set standards throughout a project.
  2. Principal Designer: the role of CDM co-ordinator (under CDM 2007) has been replaced by the new role of Principal Designer. This means that the responsibility for coordination of the pre-construction phase, which is crucial to the management of any successful construction project, now rests with an existing member of the design team.
  3. Principal Contractor: if any project will have more than one contractor at any time throughout the project, one must be appointed by the Client as the Principal Contractor, who then leads health, safety and welfare on the Client's behalf throughout the practical delivery phase of the project. It should be noted, though, that the Client retains overall responsibility at all times.

How will this change how projects are managed?

There are three important phases, so it's important that Designers and Contractors are appointed by the Client as early as possible to help prepare and plan your project:

  1. Pre-construction phase: the inception, design and planning stage of a project (before the construction or building work starts), although it is acknowledged design and planning continues into and through the construction phase.
  2. Construction phase: the start to finish stage of the construction or building work.
  3. Post-construction phase: the practical completion of the construction or building work, including handover.

What have I got to do?

As the Client you are responsible for everything from the pre-construction phase to the final completion/handover of the health and safety file. The client must:

  • Appoint contractors and designers ensuring they have necessary experience, knowledge and skills (this includes appointing a Principal Designer and Principal Contractor for all projects which will have more than one contractor at any time throughout the project in writing, otherwise the Client is deemed to be carrying out these roles);
  • Provide pre-construction information as soon as practicable (e.g. site plans, drawings, service and utility information and asbestos survey) to the design/construction team;
  • Ensure good working relationships between the three main duty holders (Client, Principal Designer and Principal Contractor) so that the project is successfully managed. E.g. a clear client brief, created at the beginning of the project.
  • Ensure there are welfare facilities, including toilets and washing facilities, drinking water and cups, and facilities for rest.
  • Notify the HSE in writing of projects before works commence if they will exceed 30 construction days with 20 or more workers working simultaneously or if the project exceeds 500 person days;
  • Ensure that the Principal Designer prepares a health and safety file for the project and that it is revised as necessary and made available to anyone who needs it for subsequent work on site;
  • Ensure a Construction Phase Plan is provided by the Contractor or Principal Contractor and is in place before any works commence;


  • The main authority for health and safety matters will pass to the Principal Contractor/Contractor during the construction phase once works have commenced on site;
  • For school funded projects the Governing body would be considered the 'Client' and it is recommended that an agent be used to work on the school's behalf.
  • For smaller projects you will still need to satisfy yourself that designers and contractors are competent, to allow sufficient time and resources and to provide adequate pre-construction information to designers and contractors.

Please ensure that the declaration is signed, dated and returned to your School Improvement Officer.

Accidents/Incidents Advice:

Heating engineers in court over asbestos

"A Stockport heating engineering firm were sentenced after two of its engineers were exposed to asbestos while working at a Manchester school. 

Trafford Magistrates' Court heard Flueclean were contracted to replace boilers in the boiler room of the school. 

However, two of Flueclean's gas engineers were exposed to asbestos when they took the side panels off boilers which had asbestos insulation on the boiler casing.

Flueclean Installations Services Limited Lytham Street Works, Shaw Heath, Stockport, Cheshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 6(1) and 11(1) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and was fined £4,000 for each breach with £3,517 costs. 

HSE inspector Kevin Jones said after the hearing: "Asbestos is the greatest cause of work related deaths in the UK with over 4,000 deaths arising from past exposure. 

"Contractors have a duty to ensure they protect their workers from the risk of exposure to asbestos and must properly plan any work which is likely to disturb it. 

"In this case, Flueclean Installations Services Limited failed to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment which if they had would have clearly identified that the work should have been carried out by a licensed asbestos contractor. As a result of this failing, two of their operatives were exposed to asbestos."

County Council in court after schoolboy severs finger in class

"North Yorkshire County Council has been prosecuted after a 14-year-old boy needed a finger amputated after it got tangled in a lathe during a lesson at Knaresborough's King James' School.

The pupil, from Knaresborough, was using a polishing cloth by hand on a work piece as it rotated on a manual metal lathe during a design and technology class when the incident happened on 19 November 2013.

The boy's right hand became entangled around the work piece and severed part of his index finger. There were six other mini lathes in use by pupils in the same class.

He was given first aid before being taken to hospital.  After an unsuccessful operation to reattach the finger, the pupil needed to undergo further surgery to amputate the finger to below the first joint. He has needed several physiotherapy and occupational therapy sessions.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated and brought the prosecution after finding the Council had failed to identify that the practice of hand-polishing on metal lathes was unsafe despite it being used for years at the 1,700-pupil school.

Leeds Crown Court heard today (13 July) that after the incident, HSE served a prohibition notice on the Council, halting any use of hand-held polishing cloths on the lathes at King James' school and advising the authority to take action to ensure similar practices were not underway at other schools under its control.

HSE's investigation found that the Council's assessment of potential risks of using of the lathes had failed to consider all the tasks undertaken on the machine and so had not identified the unsafe system being used by pupils. As such, pupils were routinely put at risk of injury.

North Yorkshire County Council, of Racecourse Lane, Northallerton, North Yorkshire, was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £28,287 in costs after admitting a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Kate Dixon said:

"This was a horrifying incident in a classroom that could very simply have been avoided. Sadly, this pupil had to undergo surgery to amputate part of his index finger and, being right-handed, he has found it very difficult to adjust. It has affected both his writing, his ability to play music, and his sports activities.

"North Yorkshire County Council failed to identify the system of work being used for years at the school was not safe. As a result, pupils were at risk and a 14-year0ld boy has suffered an injury that will stay with him for the rest of his life.

"The risk of amputation from using hand-held polishing cloths on metal working lathes is well known and HSE has had a guidance note on this since 1993. Alternative machines or tools can easily be used to carry out polishing of work pieces, significantly reducing the risks of entanglement, a system now in place at the school involved."

The guidance note from HSE can be accessed on HSE's website

Can all D&T Departments review and update their Risk Assessments immediately to ensure that the safe practice in 'Engineering Information Sheet No:2' is followed.

Audit Update:

As part of the development of health and safety systems in schools and support we have a programme of audits in place.  Please see table for details of the findings so far:



1. Awareness of the STC Corporate H&S Manual:

  • Is the document accessible?
  • How is it communicated to staff?
  • How is staff's understanding confirmed?

100% compliance on accessing the Corporate Manual on the 14 schools audited.

2. Minutes of H&S Meetings:

  • Are meetings taking place?
  • Is Health & Safety on the agenda?
  • How are unresolved issues progressed?

All schools audited had health and safety on the agenda of their Governor Meetings.

Only 7 were recoding the minutes of their staff meetings.

3. Comprehensive outline of activities undertaken by the service:

  • Is there a list?
  • Does the list correspond to the Risk Assessments?

8 of the schools audited had a list in place - 6 did not.

4. Sample of completed risk assessments:

(This should include your STF risk assessment)

  • Are all sections, completed correctly?
  • Signed & dated with a Review date?
  • Are Assessments Suitable & sufficient?
  • Do they identify risks
  • Are they relevant to the task
  • Are suitable controls in place to minimise the risk to an acceptable level.
  • Are any Safe Working Procedures referenced in the assessments Control Measures?
  • How are staff made aware of any controls/procedures?

11 of the schools had suitable and sufficient risk assessments in place - in particular the slip and trip risk assessment had been adopted.

3 of the schools require further work to improve the quality of their risk assessments.

5. Policies in place and up to date:

a) School Health and Safety Policy

b) Slip, trip and fall Policy

Supporting Pupils with Medical Conditions Policy

a) 11 schools were still using the old template. 3 had adopted the new template.

b) 9 of the schools had adopted the new 'Slip, trip and fall' policy, 5 had not.

8 of the schools had implemented the new policy, 6 had not.

6. Training records:

  • Is there a Training Matrix?
  • Are the mandatory training requirements of the Service addressed? 

Only 3 of the schools audited had a training matrix in place. The other 11 were completing training but this was not clearly documented.

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.

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

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