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Knowledge Share: School health and safety auditing. Why it is important?

Jun 24, 2024

Auditing art, design and technology departments within academies is crucial for several reasons. School health and safety auditing. Why it is important? This article is to help school leaders understand the critical role health and safety auditing can have. It is a vital tool to measure safety compliance and to identify hazards that may not be being sufficiently controlled. Good health and safety is not an accident, it takes careful management and practice. JCH Safety specialise in providing safety expertise to the education sector.

First of all, lets consider the risks within art, design and technology departments:

Art, design, and technology departments face several risks that require careful management. Here are some key areas of concern:

Health and Safety Hazards:

Physical Hazards: These include accidents related to tools, machinery, and equipment. For example, improper use of power tools or inadequate safety precautions in workshops. Furthermore, it can include insufficient space and machine separation and a lack of floor markings.

Chemical Hazards: Exposure to hazardous substances (e.g., paints, solvents, glues and dust) can pose health risks. Proper storage, handling, and ventilation are essential. Using LEV correctly and maintaining the systems properly is very important to safety. Also, using appropriate PPE protects users.

Ergonomic Hazards: Prolonged use of computers or repetitive tasks can lead to musculoskeletal issues. This can be for both pupils and staff. The way workplaces are set up is vital to consider ensuring all people are protected.

Biological Hazards: In art studios, home economics kitchens, wood stores and workshops staff and students can suffer from exposure to mould, dust, or allergens. These can impact health. Good management of biological hazards is very important to schools.

Fire and Electrical Safety: Faulty wiring, overloaded circuits, or improper storage of flammable materials can lead to fires. Regular inspections and adherence to safety protocols are crucial. It is vital that your school has a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment in place (link to JCH site/ blogs please) which includes consideration of the departments and their specific hazards i.e. LPG cylinders.

Equipment Malfunction: Machinery, tools, and equipment must be well-maintained to prevent malfunctions or accidents. Regular inspections ensure safe working conditions. Statutory safety tests and regular in-house inspections keep students and staff safe.

Poor Ergonomics and Workspace Design: Proper workstation setup, adjustable furniture, and ergonomic practices reduce strain and promote well-being. Designing workspaces with safety in mind is essential. It is important to follow the CLEAPSS recommendations for space and layouts of machinery.

Material Handling and Storage: Safe storage of art supplies, chemicals, and materials prevents spills, contamination, and accidents.Clear labelling and proper disposal procedures are vital. It is important that COSHH risks are sufficiently assessed and managed. Suitable first aid and emergency procedures should be in place.

Poor Quality and Insufficient Risk Assessments: Regular risk assessments identify hazards and guide preventive measures. Teachers should assess risks before each activity or project. Use of CLEAPSS’  risk assessments is advised but these must be adjusted to be specific to your needs. For a risk assessment to be suitable and sufficient it must fully assess the hazards and environment considering appropriate safety controls to mitigate any risk.

Poor behaviour and Classroom Management: It is important to ensure the highest levels of behaviour in high-risk areas. Small class sizes / group work, experienced staff and proper planning is vital here. It is important to ensure poor behaviour can not lead to accidents in workshops where there is dangerous equipment.  

As you can see, art, design and technology departments face a range of hazards. The purpose of auditing art, design and technology is to identify any shortfall in safety in these areas.

JCH Safety are experienced health and safety auditors. We have plenty of experience of working with schools and academies across the Midlands. We are happy to provide references from other Trusts if requested. We are committed to providing friendly, professional support to our clients without judgement. We are always there to support clients to improve and develop.

When we audit school art, design and technology departments we consider:

Ethical Considerations:

Emerging AI art-generating programs raise ethical questions about data sources and potential misuse. Ensuring ethical practices in art and technology is essential.

Remember that proactive risk management, training, and adherence to safety guidelines are crucial for maintaining a safe and productive environment in these departments. It is important to also consider the benefits that AI can bring to education for both staff and students. After all, it is here to stay.

Safety and Compliance:

Ensuring the safety of students, staff, and visitors is paramount. Regular audits help identify potential hazards in workshops, labs, and classrooms. Compliance with health and safety regulations is essential. Audits verify that facilities, equipment, and teaching practices align with guidelines and provides support in correcting any shortfalls. At JCH Safety we are keen to assist with providing solutions not just pointing out problems!

Risk Mitigation:

Audits allow schools to proactively address risks. By identifying weaknesses or non-compliance, academies can take corrective actions promptly. Risk assessments help prevent accidents, injuries, and damage to property. When auditing departments we sample risk assessment and identify if they are likely to be suitable and sufficient. We ensure that risk assessments are applicable to the hazards which are identified.

Resource Optimisation:

Audits assess the condition of equipment, tools, and materials. This information informs budget decisions and ensures resources are used effectively.

Well-maintained facilities enhance the learning experience and support quality education. Poor quality learning resources impacts on student skill development.

Curriculum Enhancement:

Audits evaluate safe teaching practices through testing safety qualifications of teachers and considering this in light of curriculum alignment. Recommendations from audits can lead to teaching improvements, ensuring students receive relevant and up-to-date education.

Integration of Technology:

In today’s digital age, technology plays a significant role in design and technology education. Audits help academies assess their technology infrastructure, including devices, software, and connectivity. The use of high-tech equipment is vital to preparing students for further/higher education and preparedness for the working world. When using high tech equipment, it is vital that is done so safely. Ensuring correct set up, space and teaching locations is vital.

Continuous Improvement:

Regular departmental health and safety audits foster a culture of continuous improvement. Schools can learn from best practices and adapt accordingly.

Feedback from audits informs professional development and training for teachers.


In summary, auditing design and technology departments within academies promotes safety, efficiency, and excellence in education. It’s an investment in the well-being of students and the overall success of the institution. Specialist audits provide valuable evidence for Ofsted and the HSE if required.

JCH Safety are specialist-chartered health and safety practitioners and fire risk assessors. We work with a variety of public and private sector educational establishments ranging from nursery provision, academies, trusts to colleges. With experience across a broad range of educational providers we promote best practice and safety compliance.

If you would a free quotation for any of our services, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

-JCH Safety provide fire risk assessments, health and safety advice and safety auditing across Coventry, Warwickshire, Nuneaton and the West Midlands-