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Blog: Health and safety compliance in education facilities.

Technical (Policy & Research) Director
International Institute of Risk & Safety Management

In today’s society parents, governors, local authorities and government require that education facilities meet or exceed the appropriate health and safety standards to ensure that children (students) of all ages are educated or take part in school activities in a safe environment.

Accidents and incidents do happen even in what are considered well managed and excellent facilities. Those with responsibility to ensure the health, safety and welfare of students need to know that the facilities they work in are safe and that an appropriate management system is in place and have competent advice.

Managing compliance

A significant concern highlighted by many in the education sector is the emphasis to have in place an effective and robust health, safety and risk management compliance system. This is one of several management functions that strategic leaders within a school need to consider as well as those who provide services to them.

  • What do we need to do?
  • How far do we need to go?
  • Who needs to be involved?

Each of these three questions can be answered simultaneously by taking action that is appropriate and proportionate to the size, activities and identified risks of the school and by ensuring that those within a leadership position have appropriate levels of knowledge and training.

It is not surprising that many, particularly those with a limited experience of maintenance and compliance regimes, find the subject somewhat overwhelming.  Given the critical nature of this aspect of school management it is essential to understand just what the legal requirements are in terms of managing a building.  Largely they relate to any aspect of the school that involves gas, mechanics, electricity, fire-alarm systems, and plumbing, as well as aspects of the construction that are proven to be unsafe subsequent to the construction. 

In many respects managing compliance is as much about regular maintenance checks as it is about keeping records of that activity, so what should be checked?

  • Fire alarms don’t just need to be tested they also need to be maintained, as do fire extinguishers. 
  • Less obvious might be the regular cleaning of shower heads and kitchen extract fans.  These should be done four times a year. 
  • Gas boilers and water heaters should be serviced twice a year, whereas PAT (portable appliance testing) where necessary should be undertaken once a year and tests on fixed wiring every five years (this can be achieved by doing 20% year on year). 

The items on this list, which is not exhaustive as they are building dependent, are essential checks that are subject to audit.  Any of these elements of the built environment can create, if not maintained, a significant incident in relation to student or staff safety.

2016 has been a year of change and it is certain to continue into 2017; changes in health and safety legislation and new sentencing guidelines for health and safety offences and the unknown effects of the Brexit vote have raised many questions in relation to maintaining health and safety compliance but today (17.01.17) the Prime Minister has stated what is law today will be law after the end of Brexit negotiations.

The International Institute of Risk and Safety Management (IIRSM) is an educational charity and professional body with over 8,000 members around the world and is well placed to assist you in maintaining compliance. 

IIRSM can undertake a comprehensive 24-point audit of your facilities and provide you with a detailed report and recommend actions resulting from the findings. The Institute can also provide a number of other services to help you manage what can be a confusing subject but first you need to know your current level of compliance. 

  1. We discuss with you and your team your current health and safety status.
  2. Undertake a desktop review of your current health and safety documentation and statutory certification.
  3. In consultation with you we will arrange to interview key staff during the audit (school staff, business manager facilities staff, catering, contractors).
  4. We will then undertake a detailed physical audit of all areas of the school premises.
  5. Within one week of the audit you will be provided with a colour-coded report indicating Red-High, Amber-Medium, Green-Low and, where appropriate, more specific detail within the report.
  6. Provide a verbal report and facilitate a discussion at the end of the exercise.  

The audit is composed of the following elements:

Review of your Health and Safety Policy

Review of Organisation
& Responsibilities

Review of Documented Safety Management System / Procedures Review of Statutory Legislation Certification (Insurance)
Health and Safety Training & Records Contractor Management Health & Safety
Previous Audits and Inspections (internal & External) Fire Management & Fire Risk Assessment
Asbestos Management & Monitoring Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH)
Risk Assessments Legionella Management & Monitoring
Gas Safety Management Statutory Equipment (Checks)
Grounds Maintenance Critical Equipment (Checks)
Waste Management Electrical Equipment Management
Instruction (Tool Box Talks) Health & Safety Communications
Legal Register (if applicable)

3rd Party Lets (Sports & School Facilities) Admin

Competent Health &
Safety Advice
Physical Aspects

For further details contact: or 020-8741-9100 / 07825-300-970

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