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Knowledge Share: School Health and Safety

Jun 15, 2022

At JCH Safety, we work with many different types of organisations across Coventry, Birmingham and the wider West Midlands. We particularly enjoy working with schools, colleges and other education establishments. From providing safety services to high level colleges, teaching international students, to exceptional small schools working with children with specialist educational needs, JCH Safety have the experience. We have even worked with people setting up new schools from scratch, both in the private and state sector.We particularly enjoy helping schools where safety has lapsed to get everything back in order. As a result, we are experts in school safety across the full spectrum of providers.

Our first ever client was a secondary school in Coventry, and from this beginning the company has grown. We now provide regular fire consultancy and health & safety services to academy schools, private providers and state schools across the Warwickshire, Birmingham and Leicestershire areas.

As part of our ‘Knowledge Share’ series, we wanted to share some experience with school business managers, senior leadership teams and management about health and safety in schools. Obviously, schools face numerous hazards which require careful, expert management. We are often asked by schools ‘how to manage safety,’ particularly once they leave local authority control? JCH Safety have experience assisting schools going through academisation. For readers in a non-education setting, this is the process of schools leaving local authority maintained control to becoming academies. At this point, school management take on board ultimate responsibility for health and safety as well as fire safety for their buildings, staff and students.

When it comes to managing school safety, as with all types of organisations, it starts with developing a robust, suitable and sufficient health and safety policy. This should set out the organisation’s safety goals in the policy statement and then go onto explain who is responsible for different aspects of safety; and then detailing the arrangements of how to do this. It includes explaining the safety arrangements for fire safety, manual handling, machinery management, chemicals/COSHH and first aid (non-exhaustive list). As the document is established, it should provide a detailed explanation for how your particular organisation manages safety. It is important that it is a specific document written especially for you, rather than simply being an ‘off the shelf’ generic policy. A well written safety policy will stand you in good stead moving forward. Don’t just copy documents of the internet!

Equally important as the school health and safety policy is the risk assessment process. To know how to manage risk, you need to know what risks need managing. These have commonality between education establishments but some schools have specific risks. These could include work at height risks, fragile roofs, asbestos and deep water for example. As a result, as the health and safety policy is being formulated, so should the risk assessment. They should fit hand in glove so to speak.

Expert knowledge of educational risks and property safety is vital when establishing your risk assessments. One such benefit of working with us is that our lead consultant has a long history of working in the educational refurbishment sector prior to establishing JCH Safety. As a result, we understand school interior fit out risk; educational sector CDM management and property hazards including mechanical, heating and utility risks.

From the school health and safety policy to developing the risk assessment comes a need for establishing suitable safety controls. This includes legionella management, traffic control, lock down procedures and fire risk assessments. Another key safety control comes in the form of staff training. JCH identifies what training is needed and then helps this to be achieved. We offer fire marshal training, manual handling training and mental health awareness training amongst many dozens of other courses. Have a look at our training courses here.

All of a sudden, by this point your school health and safety management system is taking form. From risk assessment to risk control, hazardous environments are tamed into low risk, safe learning places. It does take work, knowledge, experience and skill to develop a good safety system.

We would very much welcome the opportunity to work with your organisation. As a small, independent consultancy you will enjoy safety support from a highly qualified chartered safety practitioner and fire risk assessor who is deemed as competent by a prestigious third party body. We build personal relationships with our clients which we very much cherish.

If you would like to find out more about safety in the education sector, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. If you are looking for dedicated safety support we provide highly competitive term contract rates. Let us know if you would like to know more.

Thanks for reading and stay safe!