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Safer Schools Bulletin September 2016

Policy update

Updates in the STC Health and Safety Manual:

3.23 Working at Height

The Working at Height Regulations came in to force on 6th April 2005 and place a responsibility on employers and all persons, in their employ or under their control, engaged with the planning, supervision and carrying out of work at height, to manage the risks involved. 3.23 Working at Height

3.24 Personal Protective Equipment

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is defined in the Regulations as "all equipment" (including clothing used for protection against Temperature extremes, adverse weather)" which is intended to be worn or held by a person at work and which protects them against one or more risks to their health or safety, e.g. safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high visibility clothing, safety footwear and safety harnesses.  3.24 Personal Protective Equipment

Please ensure that these are added to your Policy and your employees are made aware of the updates.

Accidents and incidents

Essex school fined after refurbishment disturbs asbestos - July 2016

An Essex school has been fined after poorly-planned and managed refurbishment and maintenance activities exposed school staff and others to asbestos.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard that managers at The Boswells School, Chelmsford, decided to convert an old boiler room at the school into a cleaning store. During the course of this work, asbestos residue on the walls was disturbed and caretakers swept contaminated debris from floors. Their exposure to risk only came to light after a later asbestos survey was completed in the area.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated this incident and learned that asbestos containing materials (ACM's) were also present in other areas. School caretaking staff and contractors disturbed the fabric of school buildings over many years without being alerted to the presence of ACM's. Persons who entered potentially contaminated areas were placed at risk of developing serious ill health conditions arising from exposure to airborne respirable asbestos fibres. The school also failed to ensure that spread of asbestos was prevented or reduced.

The Boswells Academy Trust, of Burnham Road, Chelmsford, Essex, pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 - Sections 2(1) & 3(1).  The trust was fined £26,000 and ordered to pay costs of £20,000.

HSE Inspector Glyn Davies said after the hearing: "The Boswells Academy Trust should have controlled this potentially lethal risk by identifying the type, location and condition of any asbestos-containing-materials within the fabric of the school, and by implementing suitable precautions to prevent its disturbance. It should then have ensured that such information was shared with anyone liable to disturb this fabric. It may also have arranged for a licensed asbestos contractor to remove any dangerous asbestos safely before commencement of any work.

"This prosecution should act as a reminder, not just to schools but to all persons in control of the repair and maintenance of non-domestic premises, of the need to ensure that a suitable and sufficient assessment of risk from asbestos is carried out, and that correct control measures are put in place to ensure that exposure to asbestos is prevented, so far as is reasonably practicable."

Essex school fined after refurbishment disturbs asbestos

School fined after pupil paralysed in swing collapse - January 2016

A Hertfordshire school has been fined for safety failings after a pupil suffered permanent paralysis when a swing collapsed.

St Albans Magistrates' Court heard how in September 2011 a 13-year-old pupil at the school was playing on a wooden swing in an adventure playground, when the wooden cross beam of the swing fell onto the pupil's head and neck causing spinal injuries that resulted in permanent paralysis.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the swing had collapsed because the supporting timbers had rotted.

Queenswood School, of Shepherd's Way, Brookmans Park, Hatfield, was fined a total of £50,000, and ordered to pay £90,693 in costs after pleading guilty to an offence under Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Alison Ashworth said: "This case shows how important it is that schools and other providers of play equipment maintain them in a safe condition. This tragic accident could have been avoided had the school implemented the findings of its own risk assessment."

School fined after pupil paralysed in swing collapse

School fined after worker fell from height

A school in Brentwood has pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations after a worker was injured as he fell from a roof.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard how in January 2014 a maintenance team at the school was working to replace components on a bay window of a residential flat within the school grounds. A 63-year-old employee was working on the roof of the bay window when his foot got caught and he fell approximately 2.6metres to the ground below. He was taken to hospital and was found to have suffered injuries including a broken collarbone and chipped vertebrae.

An investigation by Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident found that there were no effective guardrails or any other means of protection to prevent workers from falling from the roof. There were no supervisory arrangements and the work was not carried out in a safe manner.

Brentwood School Charitable Incorporated Organisation, Brentwood, Essex, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, and was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £1,477 in costs.

School fined after worker fell from height

Risk assessment review

If you are responsible for risk assessments in your School don't forget that they need reviewing regularly and updating if necessary.

Few workplaces stay the same. Sooner or later, you will bring in new equipment, substances and procedures that could lead to new hazards. So it makes sense to review what you are doing on an ongoing basis, look at your risk assessment again and ask yourself:

  • Have there been any significant changes?
  • Are there improvements you still need to make?
  • Have you or others spotted a problem?
  • Have you learnt anything from accidents or near misses?

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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