There’s no one place where health and safety matters more.
Every environment, be it the workplace, a restaurant or a nursery setting, needs robust Health and Safety standards.
However, health and safety in schools is an important one. Schools are a unique environment, bustling and frantic, with many people who might have varying needs and requirements.
Here’s how an external health and safety audit can help ensure you and your school are safe.
The Health & Safety Expectations In UK Schools
Schools are subject to a whole host of regulations, so many that it can be difficult to keep track of them all and remain compliant. They must carry out suitable risk assessments to identify any potential issues and take all reasonable measures to ensure the site is safe.
Some of the key regulations that you need to know about include, but are not limited to…
The Health And Safety At Work Act (HASAWA) 1974
This piece of legislation governs workplace health and safety across all industries, and that includes health and safety in schools.
The HASAWA defines the duties of every individual for maintaining health and safety in the workplace and provides a framework that supports not just employees but those who are affected by work-related activities; in this case, that means the pupils themselves.
Employers working in education are responsible for ensuring pupils are safe from risks to their health and safety. In schools, there is no grey area; if risks cannot be mitigated to a safe level, the process or activity involved must be dropped or altered until it’s acceptably safer.
The Management Of Health And Safety At Work Regulations 1999
This one is for you if your workplace employs 5 or more individuals, which arguably most schools do.
This set of regulations requires employers to conduct risk assessments for their workplace, reducing or removing any found risks.
The main requirement of these regulations is that employers carry out risk assessments to reduce or completely remove risks in the workplace and make a record of their findings.
Employers must also implement measures to combat the risks, regularly review the measures and ensure certain individuals have been trained to be responsible for every element of health and safety in schools, such as qualified First Aiders.
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002
Otherwise known as COSHH regulations, these regulations impact health and safety in schools because they necessitate the control of health risks posed by hazardous substances. In educational settings, this could look like chemistry lab substances and even cleaning products used by the caretakers or kitchen staff.
Employers must assess all risks involved with hazardous substances, implement effective control measures and review and maintain these procedures to make sure they’re up to scratch. This also involves training any employees using the substances to ensure they are aware of the risks and know both how to safely use them and what to do in an emergency.
Remember, we couldn’t list all of the regulations concerning health & safety in schools here if we tried – there are so many of them! But don’t panic. Working towards legislative compliance is necessary, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.
Managing Health & Safety In Schools
When it comes to who’s responsible for what, the headteacher is the top dog, and the day-to-day management of overall health and safety falls to them. Unfortunately, this tends to be a huge additional task piled onto an already fit-to-burst list.
Internal audits can help to keep everyone on the same page and assist in maintaining compliance. But often, this is too big a job for someone who already has plenty going on that requires their attention. And that means that the school risks audits being rushed under time pressure or inadequately executed.
External audits. For health and safety in schools, bringing in someone from the outside to assess your setting can help to identify gaps in your provision. This enables employers to get everyone up to speed and fully compliant.
What Is Involved In An External Audit?
If you’ve never experienced an external audit, you might like to know more about the process.
First up, the auditor will review your health and safety processes and recording practices.
Next, an in-depth risk assessment will be performed. This allows the auditor to understand the risks and look at how they are currently being managed.
The auditor will want to check all employees’ understanding of their obligations and the procedures that sit under them for adequate health and safety in schools.
Accident And Incident Reporting
This part of an external audit involves reviewing anything that has occurred and how it was reported; this may be events that have happened since the school’s last audit, if applicable.
Now, with a comprehensive overview of how the school deals with its health and safety obligations, the auditor will form a report of their findings. The report will identify where improvements can be made.
Working with the school, the auditor will develop an actionable plan that incorporates their recommendations so that the school can reach complete health and safety regulation compliance. They will also provide guidance on prioritising which changes need to be actioned more urgently and help the employer to assign responsibilities to designated, responsible employees.
Still not sure what could go wrong with an internal audit? Read this blog.
The Benefits Of An External Audit
An external health & safety audit is an assessment carried out by an expert in the field. Here are some of the key benefits.
- Identify gaps in knowledge, processes and procedures.
- Encourages best practices going forward due to the experience of being assessed and working with professional guidance.
- Work with more intricate knowledge than those performed internally, meaning you can rest assured you’ll remain compliant if you work with the auditor to execute their suggestions.
- Reduce the risk of accidents and incidents in the workplace.
- Show that the employer is serious about responsibility and accountability for the welfare of their students and staff members.
- Help to build a professional reputation and trusting culture.
- Improve health and safety standards for every single person on the premises.
Working With Envesca
Envesca works within many educational establishments. So, when it comes to health and safety in schools, we know what we’re talking about.
As well as providing external auditing of health and safety in schools, we also provide a wealth of other services.
Envesca offers a myriad of training courses, both online and in person, meaning there’s something for everyone.
Fire Safety Training
The main duty of the fire marshal in a workplace is to reduce the risk of a fire occurring. They are also responsible for getting people to safety if one takes place.
Our fire safety training courses are available on levels 1 and 2 and cover everything you need to know about the fire marshal’s role and responsibilities. The course level required depends on the candidate’s job role and responsibilities.
First Aid Training
First aid training saves lives, and not just in the workplace.
Envesca offers a variety of both level 2 and level 3 first aid training courses, as well as a combined course covering first aid at work and paediatric first aid to cover you on all bases.
Find out more about our Qualsafe Combined Level 3 Award in Emergency First Aid at Work and Emergency Paediatric First Aid course here.
Mental Health First Aid Training
Our Qualsafe Level 3 Award in Mental Health First Aid in the Workplace training course provides candidates with the knowledge and skills needed to identify individuals requiring mental health support, as well as the confidence to offer assistance when required.
Food Safety Training
Many cases of foodborne illness stem from food contamination due to poor hygiene and food safety practices. Food safety training demonstrates professional competence to regulatory bodies and trains your team to set gold standards that will improve performance and customer satisfaction.
You can read more about our food safety offering here.
Not only do we offer training packages, but we’re on hand for proactive, sensible health and safety advice and support, too. Our team has over 27 years of experience that can give you complete peace of mind knowing that your company is fully compliant in the eyes of the law and looking after its employees, clients and customers.
Our consultants can assist you in developing and undertaking risk assessments and identifying the processes and procedures that underpin an organised and smooth-running business.
Get Ahead Of The Game With An External Audit
Health and safety in schools is no joke, and it’s often a heavy burden for head teachers and other professionals on already busy schedules.
Opting for an external audit lessens the load on internal resources and adds peace of mind that nothing gets missed.
Are you a headteacher run ragged? HSE inspectors may visit without notice and wish to inspect the school or turn up in response to an accident or complaint.
If you’re worried about potential gaps in your health and safety provision, get in touch with Envesca today.