How to solve the biggest problems in schools’ site safety management

Schools are unique and varied environments that demand a broad approach to health and safety

We’ve set out a number of key compliance concerns but your specific requirements – spanning risk assessment, accident reporting, security and safeguarding – should be discussed in detail with your health and safety consultant.


Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia. It’s caused by breathing in small droplets of water contaminated by legionella bacteria, which develops in water between 25–40°c. In a school environment, hotbeds include changing room taps and shower heads, air conditioning units and water fountains, so regular reviews of risk areas are key to control.

Implement a routine cleaning programme for shower heads and outlets and regularly flush through dead legs to prevent bacteria build-up in stagnant pipe water.

While still protecting against scalding risk, conduct temperature checks on taps to steer clear of the 20–45°c risk range.
Fix lids to water tanks and check them regularly for damage to prevent contamination from vermin and insects.
Keep detailed records of temperature checks, conditions of pipes, tanks and outlets, causes for concern and follow-up fixes.

Tree condition inspection and maintenance

Trees add colour and character to your grounds but can pose latent safety risks. Hard-to-spot disease, decay, parasites and structural weaknesses can lead to falling trunks or branches, particularly in strong winds.

While a trained grounds team can tackle light pruning duties, we recommend using a qualified specialist to regularly assess tree health and hazards, carry out remedial work and advise on positioning for new plantings.

Slips, trips and falls

Slips, trips and falls account for a high proportion of on-site school injuries but regular maintenance of walkways can head off hazards. Your action plan should cover:

  • Filling potholes on car parks, paths and access routes
  • Highlighting uneven surfaces
  • Adding handrails on stairs
  • Lighting walkways – particularly those used after dark to access event spaces
  • Regularly inspecting and repairing playing fields, pitches and courts
  • Placing window restrictors on the upper floors of buildings


Regular glazing surveys and risk assessments help ensure compliance with the Health and Safety Welfare Regulations 1992 and BS 6202. For day-to-day protection, take common-sense steps to prevent injuries from broken glass.

Insist that windows and transparent or translucent surfaces in walls, partitions or doors are made from safety material or otherwise protected against breakage.

To prevent collisions, place stickers or etching at eye level across large expanses of glazing.

Install viewing panels in two-way doors to provide a clear view from both sides.

Pool maintenance and COSHH

The management of an on-site pool presents a duty of care to both staff and students. Access should be controlled and monitored via a team of authorised key holders and signage should clearly display pool rules, depth markings and water dangers.

Train your swim instructors and maintenance team to carry out a regular rota of pool and plant room checks that cover general site health and safety – from uneven flooring to loose filter covers – and the correct handling and storage of chlorine and other pool chemicals. Personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face and dust masks, gloves, goggles and eyewashes, should be readily available and COSHH training should be routinely carried out for all relevant staff.

Working at height

Working at height should be avoided as far as practicable, but the daily demands of school life – from changing light bulbs to putting up classroom displays – often require the use of a ladder. Protect employees by following a safe system of work.

Ensure all ladders remain in good repair and conform to Class 1, Class 2 or Class EN131 standards. Train staff to run visual checks before use and include ladders on your routine equipment inspection list, and immediately remove any defective items from use.

Managing contractors

The competence of contractors is your responsibility. When engaging on-site workers, carry out a thorough vetting process of qualifications, insurance, membership of professional bodies and previous experience.

While casual contractors should report to the school office at the start of each day and conform to your school’s site safety rules at all times, long-term projects require a more involved approach. Teams taking on lengthy, high-risk works should provide a risk assessment or safe system of work for the duration of the project and routine meetings should be held between the school and contractor to flag issues and track progress. Health and safety matters should also be a regular agenda point at school committee meetings.

Your students can only thrive in a safe environment. With children back at school, it’s important to be confident that control COVID-19 measures introduced over the summer are working. Register now for our free webinar to learn more.


COVID-19 and Technology: The key to supporting a safe return to classrooms

Thursday, October 22 at 10.30 AM (BST)

Author: Caroline Lee, Senior Health and Safety Consultant at Southalls

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