The UK’s school system has seen significant changes over the last few years, with the population boom having a huge impact and creating many challenges and updates to RIDDOR . This shift in legislation means that extra care must be taken to ensure a sensible and proportionate approach is taken to health and safety. After a fifth successive year of rising numbers in primary schools,  the responsibility to protect not only the pupils, but also the workforce and any visitors is now more important than ever. Studies have shown that there are 8.3 million pupils enrolled in England’s schools, a figure that is 1% higher than the previous year and yet the census shows that there are fewer primary schools than when these numbers began to rise. The HSE changes to legislation have gone someway to providing a clear strategy to reduce injuries and accidents especially in school. A system has been implemented whereby incidents must be reported rather than accidents, whether an injury occurs or not. A “near miss” must be reported. So, how else do we ensure that these rising numbers of people are cared for effectively and strategies put in place that can be expanded to allow for changes? Firstly creating a detailed plan or checklist is a brilliant way of ensuring clear communication across the workforce and guaranteeing a high level of quality across your school or college. HSE currently offer a classroom checklist, which highlights some areas to consider, however as every school is unique, with its own specific challenges to face, knowing your own areas to focus on and creating a framework tailored to you is essential. In order to create a successful framework, you must understand where the risks lie on your premises. This can be made much more comprehensive through knowing where and why incidents have happened in the past, logging this information and analysing the results. Once the hazards have been identified, the risk assessments can then be completed. This involves evaluating the level of risk, deciding on precautions, implementing them and then re-evaluating your decisions. Keeping a pro-active, fluid system that can adapt to changes and constantly be improved upon is key. Outside of the physical risks, stress is an important factor within the school environment. A recent report from HSE showed that teachers have some of the highest numbers of reported stress . Some research has suggested that teachers are now doing very different jobs than those originally carried out by teachers in the past and therefore extra demands are being put upon them. These factors must be included in any assessment for health and safety, as the mental wellbeing of staff and pupils alike must be given as much priority as physical issues. Finally as we are talking about a premises where our next generation is taking in important information on a daily basis, what better place to not only teach safely but also teach safety. This is a place where health and safety could be taught as a way of life. Not something to prevent activities but help them be carried out in a safe way. Do you need advice on health and safety? Would your school or college benefit from a detailed and pro-active accident and incident software solution? Whether a school, college or any other organisation, Airsweb offer solutions, from risk assessments, to incident reporting and action tracking. We don’t just provide a service; we act as your partner is QHSE, tailoring our solutions to your specific needs. Given the changes to legislation, we can help you simplify the reporting process. For more information about how we can help you ensure the safety of your workforce and pupils, call our experienced team on 0151 289 6811 or email us today at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell us what your school is doing to facilitate these rising numbers of pupils. Have you seen any positive results? Glenn Hardy Lee Davies Sources:  http://www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-27813978  http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/crr_pdf/2000/crr00311.pdf
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