Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Health & Safety DfE Advice On Legal Duties & Powers For Governing Bodies

The Department of Education updated their advice on Monday 4th July 2011 as follows:

The Government says they are determined to reduce burdens on schools. They want to simplify health and safety requirements and explain them better. The Government want to make it easier for schools to take pupils on trips, removing paperwork and taking steps to reduce teachers’ fears of legal action.

Teachers should be confident that they know best how to look after pupils and
keep them safe.

Key Points


• Children should be able to experience a wide range of activities. Health and safety measures should help them to do this safely, not stop them,

• It is important that children learn to understand and manage the risks that are a normal part of life,

• Commonsense should be used in assessing and managing the risks of any activity. Health and safety procedures should always be proportionate to the risks of an activity,

• Staff should be given the training they need so they can keep themselves and children safe and manage risks effectively.

The Law

The main legislation covering this area is the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and regulations made under that Act
• The employer (the local authority, governing body or proprietor) is responsible for health and safety, though tasks may be delegated to staff;

• Employees also have a duty to look after their own and others’ health and safety;

• It is very rare for school staff to be prosecuted under criminal law with regard to accidents involving children.

Employers, school staff and others also have a duty under the common law to take care of pupils in the same way that a prudent parent would do so.

• Most claims for negligence are brought against the employer (who has public liability insurance) and not individual members of staff.

What does assessing and managing risks mean?

Health and safety law often refers to risk assessment and risk management.

These are the terms used to describe the process of thinking about the risks of any activity and taking steps to counter them. A written assessment is not required for every activity. Teachers should assume they only need to carry out a written risk assessment in exceptional circumstances. Where a risk assessment is carried out the employer must record the significant findings of the assessment
Some activities, especially those happening away from school such as mountaineering, canoeing and sailing, involve higher levels of risk. In these cases an assessment of significant risks should be carried out. Head teachers should ensure that the person assessing the risks understands the risks and is familiar with the activity that is planned. However, a risk assessment is certainly not needed every time a school takes pupils to a local venue such as
a swimming pool, parks or museums.

School employers should always take a commonsense and proportionate approach, remembering that in schools the purpose of risk assessment and management is to help children to undertake activities safely, not to prevent

In particular, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
Note that this does not apply if the employer employs less than five employees. activities from taking place. They cannot remove risk altogether and they should not require needless or unhelpful paperwork.

1 comment:

  1. Government has taken very important part about self defense. I would say that teachers should be confident that they know best how to look after pupils and keep them safe. Health and safety training