Managing Health, Safety & Welfare in Educational Premises

Managing Health, Safety & Welfare in Educational Premises

Welcome back to school….
For most, the summer break was exactly that, fun holidays, rest and relaxation and a few sunny days thrown in, but for the Head, Bursar/Business Manager or Premises Manager, you have no doubt been frantically busy preparing for the new term in order to welcome back your pupils and staff.

Alas, preparing for the new term means lots of work, planning and if you are the premises Manager most likely a dose of work related stress in ensuring all those repairs and renewals are ready for the new term.

Here at Winter & Company we understand what Health, Safety & Welfare means to you, after all we represent and advise numerous schools and colleges.

During the course of the academic year we will issue further topical and timely bulletins, however if you have any ideas or would like us to cover a specific subject you can email me direct at mitchell@health-safety.net as by listening to our clients and followers we can ensure relevance and interesting articles that will help you to continue to successfully manage your Health & Safety & Welfare, as well as keeping you updated and informed on new and amended legislation together with legal rulings.

To give you a flavour of things to come during the academic year, we will be discussing and focusing on the following:

Fire Safety, including arrangements, facilities, detection and hazards analysis, in accordance with the Regulatory Reform (fire) Safety Order 2005 and the importance of the now ubiquitous fire risk assessment.

Manual Handling issues including the purpose of Risk Assessment and successful training in accordance with the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, so as to avoid muscular skeletal injuries so common amongst Premises Managers who seem to bear the brunt of transporting loads around school.

Loan Workers are often overlooked or at0 worse not even recognised, so in order to assist you we will focus on the requirements under the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999. We will look at common hazards including medical conditions, security and working at height issues that can affect loan and remote workers and all the relevant arrangements that should be put in to place to ensure no harm occurs.

Contractor Safety will feature bearing in mind vicarious liability. For those who are not aware, you may be held jointly responsible to and for your Contractors Health, Safety & Welfare when attending at your school or site. We will look at the importance of Contractors Method of Work Statements and Risk Assessments and encouraging you to ensure a “safe system of work”, including the Contractor Safety Selection Process.

Disability Access & Welfare is now more than ever relevant to you. Have you asked yourself the question: “What type of disability can we accommodate and can we safely evacuate disabled persons in the event of an emergency”? We will bring you up to date on Personal Emergency Egress Plans (PEEP) and all welfare issues in accordance with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 including provision for welfare and access.

School Trips: Don’t be put off by all the adverse publicity that you read in the press. We will enlighten and encourage you to plan and action a variety of school trips so loved and appreciated by your pupils. Also bear in mind recent changes to guidance that also supports our view that school trips and excursions are a real learning and pleasurable experience which are an essential part of your curriculum.

Reminder

Come and join us on our renowned one-day training programme “Health & Safety in Educational Premises” where we will show you how to effectively and successfully manage your Health, Safety & Welfare.

Tell a friend: If you know someone who would benefit from our bulletins or training programme, just ask them to register for our news letter at our website www.health-safety.net and we will do the rest.

So with out further ado, welcome to our September bulletin on Fire Safety:

As head of Practice here at Winter & Company Health & Safety, I receive a steady stream of enquiries asking for advice and assistance in matters of Fire Safety, bearing in mind that Fire Certificates are now null and void and that Fire safety is no longer the responsibility of the Fire Dept and has been transferred directly to the occupier and or controller of school & Educational Premises.

Ok I hear you say, what’s that got to do with me. Well to be frank, an awful lot and just in case you think oh here we go with another cranky bit of Health & Safety, just imagine your reaction to being told by your Insurers that as a consequence of that nasty fire that wiped out your School, they are not going to pay out after you have religiously paid those premiums year on year.

Ok I assume I now have your full attention and yes this is a reality for those who continue to ignore the requirements under The Fire Safety Revolution better know as The Regulatory Reform (fire) Safety Order 2005. (RRFSO).

So let me tell you a story, Once upon a time there was an Act called the Fire Precautions Act 1971. Under this Act a Fire Enforcement Officer would call at your School premises, carry out a detailed inspection and tell you what needed to be done in order to obtain a Fire Certificate. Now do bear in mind that a Fire Certificate was essentially a license to occupy your School from a fire safety perspective, so very much needed, not optional.

The resultant Fire Certificate would be accompanied by a detailed drawing/plan with lots of very easy to read symbols directing you to where the fire call points should be located along with smoke detectors, fire doors and extinguishers to name but a few.

In other words you could rely on your local friendly Fire Enforcement Officer to tell you what to do and when to do it. The only problem with that was it was taking up to much time and not leaving adequate time to fight fires, prosecute and spread positive propaganda such as “collect your free smoke detector for your home”

Nice story so far? Great system I hear you mutter, yes it was and now it has been abolished.

So I thought it would be helpful to produce a feature bulletin on Fire Safety in order that you may fully understand your new found responsibilities and ensure you stay on the right side of the Law and of course within your Insurers requirements. So to assist you, please take some time to digest the following guide:

Q & A
Does the Regulatory Reform (fire) Safety Order 2005 order apply to me?
Yes, every employer/controller of school/educational premises must make a written assessment of the fire safety issues using the Risk Assessment process, taking in to account fire detection, arrangements, facilities, maintenance of all school building services and training requirements.

Will a fire officer assess the school/educational premises and the arrangements and issue a fire certificate?
No, the responsibility lies solely with the employer/controller/occupier of the school or educational premises. Fire Certification has been completely revoked.

Who is a responsible person?
A person or persons who may have control over all or part of the building.

Where does it say that I have to make these safety arrangements?
Part 2 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 details that it is the Employer must fulfill the duty of care to their employees, pupils and visitors as well as providing the information on the requirements to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks.

What makes a competent person?
A competent person is someone with enough training and experience or knowledge and other qualities to be able to implement these measures properly.

What is a hazard?
A hazard is something that has the potential to cause harm.

Who enforces the Fire Safety Order?
The local fire and relevant authorities will enforce the order.

October 2006 saw a change in how fire safety was to be implemented at school or other educational premises. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 was designed to make the compliance easier to understand and safety standards consistent across all school and educational models.

The Order completely replaces any previous legislation. The Fire Certifications that were once issued by the local fire authorities have been revoked and replaced with the Risk Assessment based approach to evaluating the level of appropriate arrangements required.

Every Educational employer has a duty of care to ensure they concern themselves with evaluating the hazards within the workplace and take all reasonable steps to prevent and minimise the potential for harm to be realised. Fire Safety becomes an integral part of the school workplace evaluation the speed at which a fire can start and spread makes it an issue which if realised has the potential to injure or even kill.

It is also the employer’s responsibility to make sure the school/educational premises reaches the required standards of safety by providing a procedure by which responsible persons are identified, creating a culture of effective communication and balancing this with the provision of information, instruction and training to all employees, pupils and visitors.

The fire risk assessment will help you identify any risks that can be removed or reduced and ensure that any fire precautions are appropriate to the type and size of your school/educational premises.

The Fire risk assessment is based on the following steps:

  • Identifying the hazards
  • Identify the people at risk
  • Evaluate the potential risk
  • Record any findings
  • Provide the information on when the assessment should be reviewed

Following the risk assessment findings you will be able to complete and communicate an emergency plan.
The plan should include;

  • The appointment of competent persons
  • Action to be taken on discovering a fire
  • Warning Systems
  • Facilities to call the fire brigade
  • Arrangements for safe evacuation of all persons, including visitors and any vulnerable persons who may need assistance
  • Identification of “Safe Havens”
  • Facilities to effectively liaise with the emergency services
  • Training
  • Information and instruction.

Should an enforcing authority wish to inspect your premises and arrangements for fire safety they will look for evidence that you have complied with the duties set out by the order. They will look for evidence that you have carried out a suitable fire risk assessment and acted upon the significant findings of that assessment. Ensuring that the level of prevention is appropriate to the level of risk posed by the type and size of school/educational premises.

Good fire safety management is essential to ensure that fires are unlikely to occur, but total commitment from all members of staff to co operate with all rules and procedures is paramount to implementing an effective safe system of work. No one person must do anything that adversely affects the health, safety and welfare of another person. Complacency from staff on relying on fire detection systems or early warnings should not be common place. Revisiting training, effective housekeeping and participating in practice evacuation days will help keep everyone focused on the importance of workplace fire safety.

As you would expect, here at Winter & Company we are able to undertake your Fire Risk Assessment and advise on any outstanding issues as well as your general level of conformity.

For further information, email me direct at mitchell@health-safety.net or visit our website at www.health-safety.net or just call Eve Horgan to set up a no obligation meeting on 020 7353 4999.
We look forward to hearing from you. Enjoy the new term.

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