Schools have a whole raft of responsibilities when it comes to safety – safeguarding students means addressing subjects as diverse as mental health, online safety, SEND support and abuse. So maybe something like getting out a ladder to fix a roof canopy may not get the attention it needs.
However, like any other organisation, schools have a legal duty of care under the Health and Safety at Work Act which extends to students, staff, visitors and contractors. Not taking reasonable steps to discharge this duty could lead to an HSE investigation and hefty fine, as demonstrated in a recent case concerning a Essex based Academy, fined £24K after a worker fell from an unsecured ladder, sustaining fractures to his face, a fractured femur and other injuries.
The injured person was tasked with dismantling a canopy roof when the ladder slipped. An investigation by Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the school did not have a risk assessment or safe system for dismantling the canopy roof which resulted in the work being conducted unsafely. No assessment was made as to the fragility of the roof before accessing it, suitable equipment was not provided, the injured person was not trained and the work was not supervised. The investigation also found that other work at height at the school was also carried out without specific planning, supervision and was not carried out safely.
Speaking after the hearing, the HSE inspector said: “Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work-related fatalities in this country and the risks associated with working at height are well known.
“Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers in the safe system of working."
“If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the serious injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented.”
It’s cases like this which illustrate that schools need to be following Health and Safety guidance and legislation. As well as being a key provider of school safeguarding solutions, SG World have a whole range of practical H&S compliance tools to help any organisation adopt best practice safety procedures for Working at Height and many other potentially hazardous activities.