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Safer Schools Bulletin January 2018

Self inspection Checklist 2017

Could you please ensure that you return your completed checklist by 15/01/2017

In community and voluntary controlled (VC) 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'.

Head teachers of community and VC schools are required to confirm compliance with South Tyneside Council's health and safety standards.

You should be completing these checks 'termly' and returning the annual self-inspection checklist to Stephen Bell, Health and Safety Business Partner (Schools) (BTST) stephen.bell@southtyneside.gov.uk by the 15 January 2018.  You should include your action plan and any additional information that might be relevant to demonstrate the actions you have taken to remedy any issues that have arisen during the course of completing the pro forma.

Should you have any queries regarding the content of this correspondence, or if you require any advice or help, please do not hesitate to contact me.

South Tyneside Council Health and Safety Policy

Please see the updated link to the South Tyneside Council - Health and Safety Manual which connects into your school's Health and Safety Policy - this should be relayed to your staff.

Schools also need to ensure they consult with their staff, complete suitable and sufficient risk assessments and have policies in place covering statutory requirements.

Consulting with Staff

"Employers have a duty to consult with their employees, or their representatives, on health and safety matters.

Consulting employees about health and safety can result in:

  • a healthier and safer workplace - your employees can help you to identify hazards, assess risks and develop ways to control or remove risks;
  • better decisions about health and safety - they are based on the input and experience of a range of people, including employees who have extensive knowledge about their own job and the business;
  • a stronger commitment to implementing decisions or actions - as employees have been actively involved in reaching these decisions;
  • greater co-operation and trust - employers and employees who talk to each other and listen to each other, gain a better understanding of each other's views; and
  • joint problem-solving."

For more information please see http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg232.pdf

Risk Assessments

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, require employers to make a suitable and sufficient assessments.

What is a Risk Assessment?

  • a careful examination of hazards
  • identify any activity, machinery or substance that could potentially cause injury or death
  • identify who could be harmed
  • implement control measures to eliminate/reduce the risk

It is important to distinguish between hazard and risk:

  • a hazard is something with the potential to cause harm
  • a risk is the extent to which something harmful may happen - i.e. the combination of the likelihood and consequences of a specified hazardous event.

Templates and a list of standard risk assessments, as well as help from Health and Safety, is available.

Policy Templates

Health and Safety have been working with the schools to develop policy templates covering health and safety, slip, trip and falls, supporting pupils with medical conditions, etc. Please contact Health and Safety for help and advice when completing your statutory policies.

Training

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 requires you to provide whatever information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of your employees.

This is expanded by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, which identify situations where health and safety training is particularly important, e.g. when people start work, on exposure to new or increased risks and where existing skills may have become rusty or need updating.

Training in schools can include; first aid, work at height, radiation, asbestos awareness, etc. To help decide what level of training your staff need complete a training needs analysis using the risk assessments and job descriptions.

http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg345.pdf

Competency Framework for Governance

The ''Competency Framework for Governance 2017' is designed to help governing boards assess what knowledge, skills and behaviour are needed to govern the school, or group of schools, most effectively.

Within the 'Framework' schools are expected to follow 16 competencies including 'Risk management' and 'Statutory and contractual requirements'. Someone on the board must have the knowledge to understand their "duties and responsibilities in relation to health and safety in education" and everyone on the board must have the knowledge to comprehend "the board's responsibilities in regard to Equalities and Health and Safety legislation."

The 'Framework' goes further by explaining the principals and personal attributes required to "set the culture, values and ethos of the organisation" and "foster a learning culture where constructive challenge is welcomed; thinking is diverse; a variety of experiences and perspectives are welcomed; and continuous improvement is the norm."[1]

Below are the key areas in the 'Framework' regarding health and safety:

"Everyone on the board -

should have the knowledge:

  • of the relevant indicators for monitoring behaviour and safety including information about admissions, exclusions, behaviour incidents, bullying and complaints
  • the role of behaviour in maintaining a safe environment and promoting learning (2a. Educational improvement P.14)
  • of the board's responsibilities in regard to Equalities and Health and Safety legislation (5a. Statutory and contractual requirements P.23)

Skills and effective behaviours:

  • is able to speak up when concerned about non-compliance where it has not been picked-up by the board or where they feel it is not being taken seriously
  • explain the board's legal responsibilities and accountabilities
  • is able to identify when specialist advice may be required (5a. Statutory and contractual requirements P.23)

Someone on the board -

should have the knowledge:

  • the duties and responsibilities in relation to health and safety in education (2a. Educational improvement P.15)

Skills and effective behaviours:

  • Is confident in their challenge to executive leaders on strategies for monitoring and improving the behaviour and safety of pupils/students." (2a. Educational improvement P.15)

In Council controlled schools (community and voluntary controlled schools) the governing board may have control of the premises both during and outside the school day, and may oversee a delegated budget for some maintenance activities. They are not the employer. Statutory health and safety responsibilities for setting and monitoring standards of health and safety management fall to the Council (as the employer) and on the head teacher who has day to day responsibilities for managing health and safety. Other school employees have responsibilities as set out in legislation, in the Council's policy and in the school's policy.

Although employers retain responsibility for health and safety, they can delegate tasks to head teachers or other school staff. The role of the governing board is to role is to ensure clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction. Furthermore, the governing board should ensure that the school senior management has put in place a local policy and arrangements for managing health and safety in the school based on the Council's policy and these arrangements are reviewed regularly.

In voluntary aided schools,statutory health and safety responsibilities fall to the governing board (as the employer) and the governing board must decide on the duties to be carried out by the head teacher and other employees. In practice, the governing board can delegate specific health and safety tasks to others at the school. However, the governing board, as the employer, retains the ultimate responsibility, no matter who carries out the tasks.

Key tasks for the health and safety Governor

  • Work with the school's health and safety representative to complete regular termly health and safety inspections of the school premises
  • Keep up to date with current legislation relating to health and safety matters received in school or other publications
  • Attend appropriate training
  • Assist in monitoring and review of health and safety policy and ensure this is completed annually and complies with Legislation and Council guidelines
  • Ensure suitable risk assessments are carried out as set out in health and safety policy, that these are reviewed annually and suitable procedures put in place to manage risks
  • Keep the governing board informed of health and safety issues through regular reports, covering accident statistics, results of health and safety checks, etc.
  • Ensure the annual health and safety audit is carried out and appropriate action taken where required
  • Be aware of health and safety implications of matters under consideration by governing board and ensure these are understood before a decision is taken
  • Promote a sensible approach to health and safety, making use of competent health and safety advice when required.

Schools are expected to follow 16 competencies including 'Risk management' and 'Statutory and contractual requirements'. Someone on the Board must have the knowledge to understand their "duties and responsibilities in relation to health and safety in education" and everyone on the board must have the knowledge to comprehend "the board's responsibilities in regard to Equalities and Health and Safety legislation.

All health and safety link governors attend awareness sessions to ensure that they fully understand their duties and responsibilities in relation to health and safety in education and complete their key tasks.

Health and Safety: Violence and Aggression in Schools

The schools audited have action plans in place and are working on the areas raised.

Health and Safety and The Beacon Centre are currently working together to provide a policy template for all schools.

Policy

Policies should be clear, simple statements of how your organisation intends to conduct its business. They provide a set of guiding principles to help with decision making.

These 'guiding principles' is what your organisation stands by, policies don't need to be long or complicated, they should set out a vision of what you are aiming to achieve and act as a signpost to your procedures.

Procedures

Procedures describe how each policy will be put into action in your organisation. Each procedure should outline:

  • Who will do what
  • What steps they need to take
  • Which forms or documents to use.
  • Procedures might just be a few bullet points, checklists, instructions or flowcharts.

Accidents / incidents advice

Board of Governors fined after safety failings left pupil injured - November 2017

The board of governors at a primary school has been fined after a pupil's fingers became trapped in a toilet door.

Manchester Magistrates' Court heard how, on 29 September 2016, the four-year-old pupil, who had been at St Joseph's RC Primary School for three weeks, was allowed to access the girls' toilet alone. She was heard screaming by members of staff, who found her with her fingers trapped in the hinges of the toilet door. These injuries later resulted in partial amputation of her right middle finger.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the finger guard on the door was missing as one had not been fitted since the toilets were converted five years previously. The investigation also found there was no system in place for checking and monitoring the door guards. Staff had also highlighted to the former head teacher that the door was too heavy for young children to open.

The Board of Governors at St Joseph's RC Primary school, of Market Street, Mossley, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and has been fined £4000 with £1750.90 costs.

HSE inspector Lisa Bailey said after the hearing: "This injury could have easily been prevented if a door guard had been fitted and a system was put in place to maintain and monitor the guards. The risk should have been identified so that reception pupils were not permitted to access the toilets alone, or they should have been allowed to share the nursery toilets."

Finger Trap RA 2018143.15KB

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.


[1] Department for Education (2017). Competency Framework for Governance - the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed for effective governance in maintained schools, academies and multi-academy trusts.London. Government Publication - DFE-00021-2017

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