3. What legal duties do schools have in relation to health and safety?
A number of pieces of safety legislation apply to schools, including the following:
- The Health and Safety at Work Act, 1974 – requires schools to maintain safe premises, plant and equipment, provide safe handling and storage arrangements, safe access and egress and adequate welfare facilities.
- The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 – require schools to ensure that premises, equipment, devices and systems are maintained so they are safe, in good repair and efficient working order.
- Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 – place a duty on schools to provide appropriate equipment and maintain and inspect it to ensure it is in good, safe working order. There is also a requirement to keep maintenance logs and records up to date, and ensure that staff receive adequate training in the use of equipment.
- The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 – require schools to appoint competent persons to provide them with health and safety advice. Schools are required to carry out risk assessments to identify hazards and implement appropriate control measures. This approach is also required for managing activities and facilities, e.g. safe use of playground equipment, management of fire safety and asbestos.
- The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 – these became live on 6thApril 2015. They apply to a range of construction-related works (including refurbishments, redecoration, and demolition) but also apply to some maintenance, repair or removal of mechanical, electrical, gas and other equipment/services. They set specific duties on the ‘Client’ which include ensuring that contractors are competent, providing them with information about any hazards on site (e.g. asbestos, underground cabling), and ensuring there are suitable welfare facilities for the workers. Projects for which more than one contractor is to be used require schools to appoint a Principal Designer and Principal Contractor. Certain projects are also notifiable to the HSE.
- The Regulatory (Fire Safety) Reform Order 2005 – requires workplaces to be fire risk assessed to identify the arrangements needed to effectively manage fire safety within buildings.
- Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) – set standards and duties for the thorough examination and testing of lifting equipment, including passenger lifts and hoists.