The Government is determined to reduce burdens on schools. We want to simplify healthu00a0and safety requirements and explain them better. The Government is making it easier for schools to take pupils on trips, removing paperwork and taking steps to reduce teachersu2019u00a0fears of legal action. Teachers should be confident that they know best how to look afteru00a0pupils and keep them safe.
This document summarises the existing health and safety law relevant to schools andu00a0explains how it affects local authorities, governing bodies, headteachers and other schoolu00a0staff. It covers activities that take place on or off school premises, including school trips.
Advice on driving school minibuses is now provided separately.
This advice document replaces a number of guidance documents on health, safety andu00a0security in schools, including Health and Safety: Responsibilities and Powers (2001) andu00a0Health and Safety of Pupils on Educational Visits (HASPEV 1998).
Independent schools – Please note that the amended Independent Schoolu00a0Standards Regulations 2010, which came into effect from 1 January 2013, nou00a0longer require proprietors to have regard to specific guidance. However, schoolsu00a0may find it useful to refer to this health and safety advice. Further information onu00a0the amended regulations can be found here.
In conjunction with this advice document you should read the following policy statementu00a0from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) u2018School trips and outdoor learning activities:u00a0Tackling the health and safety mythsu2019.
Who is this advice for?
u2022 School employers
u2022 Headteachers and other school staff
Although this advice is aimed at schools, Sixth Form Colleges are covered by the sameu00a0health and safety legislation and may also find the advice useful to inform their approachu00a0to health and safety.
Children should be able to experience a wide range of activities. Health and safety measures should help them to do this safely, not stop them.
It is important that children learn to understand and manage the risks that are a normalu00a0part of life.
Common sense should be used in assessing and managing the risks of any activity.u00a0Health and safety procedures should always be proportionate to the risks of an activity.u00a0Staff should be given the training they need so they can keep themselves and children
safe and manage risks effectively.
The main legislation covering this area is the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 andu00a0regulations made under that Act.
The employer (the local authority, governing body or proprietor) is responsible for healthu00a0and safety, though tasks may be delegated to staff.
Employees also have a duty to look after their own and othersu2019 health and safety.u00a0It is very rare for school staff to be prosecuted under criminal law with regard to accidentsu00a0involving children.u00a0Employers, school staff and others also have a duty under the common law to take care
of pupils in the same way that a prudent parent would do so.u00a0Most claims for negligence are brought against the employer (who has public liability
insurance) and not individual members of staff.u00a0
What does assessing and managing risks mean?
Health and safety law requires the employer to assess the risks to the health and safety of staff and others affected by their activities. The terms risk assessment and risk management are used to describe the process of thinking about the risks of any activityu00a0and the steps taken to counter them. Sensible management of risk does not mean thatu00a0a separate written risk assessment is required for every activity.u00a0School employers should always take a common sense and proportionate approach, remembering that in schools risk assessment and risk management are tools to enable children to undertake activities safely, and not prevent activities from taking place.
Sensible risk management cannot remove risk altogether but it should avoid needless oru00a0unhelpful paperwork. Some activities, especially those happening away from school, can involve higher levelsu00a0of risk. If these are annual or infrequent activities, a review of an existing assessmentu00a0may be all that is needed. If it is a new activity, a specific assessment of significant risksu00a0must be carried out. Headteachers should ensure that the person assigned with theu00a0assessment task understands the risks and is familiar with the activity that is planned.
Where a risk assessment is carried out the employer must record the significant findingsu00a0of the assessment.u00a0However, schools need not carry out a risk assessment every time they undertake anu00a0activity that usually forms part of the school day, for example, taking pupils to a localu00a0venue which it frequently visits, such as a swimming pool, park, or place of worship. Anyu00a0risks of these routine activities should already have been considered when agreeing theu00a0schoolu2019s general health and safety policies and procedures. A regular check to make sureu00a0the precautions remain suitable is all that is required.