Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council believes that the health and safety of all young people and adults involved in or affected by school activities, whether on or off-site, is of paramount importance. We seek to ensure not only the health and safety of our employees but also that of all other persons who are affected by school activities, including the children and young people attending and visiting schools.
The statutory and current law obligations relating to health and safety are shared between the Local Authority (LA), the school Governing Body and school based staff. The LEA will retain primary responsibility as the employer whereas the Governing Body will assume accountability as the ‘Controller’ (i.e. Manager) of the premises, plant, equipment and substances.
In LA maintained schools, the LA will retain responsibility as the employer under Sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASWA). Section 2 of the HSAWA places a statutory duty upon employers to ensure, as far as it is reasonably practical to do so, the proper health, safety and welfare of their employees. Section 3 places a similar duty on employers with respect to other persons other than their employees, such as pupils, visitors and members of the public, who may be affected by their undertaking.
The LEA in conjunction with the County Borough’s Health and Safety Officer will:
- Issue directions and provide specific advice on all aspects of health and safety provision, including fire safety.
- Make clear the categories of health and safety provision which fall upon Governing Bodies as part of their delegated management role.
- Implement, monitor and review as required, written statements on health and safety policy, local codes of practice and best practice guidelines specific to statutory and current law obligations.
- Implement a system of inspections to monitor the effectiveness of health and safety arrangements in school.
- Advise, support and intervene as necessary in the management of Health and Safety in schools where there is concern.
The Governing Body will be responsible under Section 4 of the HASWA to take such reasonable measures to ensure that the premises, the means of access and exit, all plant and equipment and/or substances within or provided for the use in their school is or are safe and without risk to the health and welfare to any person. Governing Bodies will also have obligations under Section 36 (1) in relation to the LEA’s legal requirements i.e. briefly this means that where any person commits an offence under health and safety legislation which is due to an act or default of some other person – that other person may be charged with and convicted of the offence.
Governing Bodies will also be accountable for all health and safety matters i.e. statutory, regulatory and within defined codes, associated with their responsibilities which will include aspects relating to:
(a) The purchase and maintenance of equipment; and
(b) Repairs and maintenance work falling within the remit of Governors responsibilities. Governors should be particularly mindful when they engage contractors who are not included on the County Boroughs approved list of contractors and/or when purchasing plant/equipment i.e. they should ensure that such organisations/items comply with the relevant UK and EU regulations and standards (eg treatment of hazardous waste).
The LEA will sustain and support Governing Bodies and employees with professional advice and guidance on matters affecting health and safety in schools and will assist them in meeting responsibilities placed upon them
The LEA can direct schools to release staff for health and safety training and charge the school for any training provided.
It is good practice for schools to draw up their own more detailed health and safety policies based upon the authority’s general policy and guidance.
Governing Bodies have a statutory obligation to ensure health and safety on premises under their control. In discharging this duty, it is incumbent upon Governing Bodies to comply with the LEA’s directions and to fully co-operate with the LEA so far as it is necessary to enable the LEA itself to comply with its statutory, regulatory and current law responsibilities and obligations. Failure on the part of the Governing Body to comply with their statutory, regulatory or current law, obligations may result in the LEA arranging for the work to be carried out and charged to the school accordingly.
Governing Bodies should also be aware that an Inspector from the Health and Safety Executive can, at any reasonable time, or if there is a dangerous situation reported, enter premises when they may have reason to believe it is needed to enter to ensure that any necessary legislation, code of practice and/or regulation is being properly effected.