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Risk Assessments

Balancing Risk and Benefits for Pupils

In planning and providing opportunities for activities such as play and learning outside the classroom then the goal cannot be to completely eliminate risk but to consider both risks and the benefits of the activity.
Sensible judgements are all that is generally required to ensure maximum benefits for children whilst ensuring that they are not exposed to significant risks.

There are plenty of documents which support such an approach to risk management in particular:

HSE 'Children's Play and leisure -promoting a balanced approach
HSE 'School trips and outdoor learning activities'
Tim Gill 'Nothing ventured … balancing risks and benefits in the outdoors'

 

Managing Risk in the Curriculum 

Teaching staff should consider any significant health and safety issues such as class size, pupil behaviour, maturity, limitations of space, layout, equipment etc. as part of their planning and preparation, risk assessment is just another name for that process.

For most activities rather than create additional paper records or a specific risk assessment this is generally best achieved by incorporating your assessment into materials normally used in teaching, annotating schemes of work, lesson plans, pupil worksheets etc.

 

Generic Risk Assessments

A list of potential hazards within school environments are detailed below with accompanying generic assessments and advice on other possible ways schools could demonstrate risks have been considered.

The generic assessments are intended as a starting point to consider the steps you may need to take to control the risks.  It is unlikely that they will be appropriate for each individual school and they should therefore be adapted for your own specific circumstances.

Further guidance on risk assessment is available in the education H&S manual

There is a general legal requirement to conduct risk assessments, in addition some legislation requires specific risks to be assessed. These are indicated in the following table.
 

Statutory / Mandatory Assessments

Hazard area

Model risk assessment available

Comments

Asbestos

No

Schools must be able to evidence a robust management system e.g. following the HCC policy and permission to work protocols, all asbestos remaining in situ to be subject to a management plan and a visual inspection on an annual cycle as a minimum.

COSHH
(Substances hazardous to health)

No

Schools to be able to evidence a management system, generally substances present a low risk in school settings, a COSHH inventory should be used as the initial assessment before determining if significant risks exist.

DSE

Individuals should complete a self assessment. This can be found on Compass (the HCC intranet accessible from within Hertfordshire Schools)

Legal requirement for those staff classed as a DSE user, but generally a low risk in school settings.

Fire

 

Firework displays

Mandatory where schools are organising their own displays

Swimming Pools

 

Mandatory where school has own pool

Work at height

Adapt the generic assessment for those tasks undertaken by school staff.

 

 

Schools are low risk environments, albeit with some higher risk areas and we would therefore expect that health and safety activity is proportionate, with more consideration being given to significant risks and thus risk assessments would be expected in these circumstances.

Recommended Assessments

Hazard area

Model risk assessment available

Comments

Caretaking duties

 

Contractors on site

 

Home visits / Lone working

 

Schools using the model policy template would already have identified general controls for managing ‘routine’ lone working in school.

Premises

 

Safeguarding / supervision, use of external areas / outdoor play

 

Snow & Ice

 

Staff wellbeing / stress

 

Schools using the model policy template would already have identified general controls. Generic assessment may be used to supplement policy statement / summarise controls in place.

Vehicles on site

 

 

 

It is not possible to produce a definitive list of risk assessments which may be required in every school, the process of risk assessment is very contextual and thus depending on the activities, environment and people involved additional risk assessments may be required as follows.

Hazard area

Model risk assessment available

Comments

Administration of medicines

Schools using the model policy template would already have identified general controls for administration of medicines and healthcare planning.

Pupil’s Health care plans may also provide information.

Animals in school

 

Bouncy castles

 

Catering duties

Available soon

Applicable when school employ their own staff to undertake these functions

Cleaning Duties

Applicable when school employ their own staff to undertake these functions

School events

  • Word 2003, 110kb/7 pages, 02/11/2010,
    events.doc

Depending on size / complexity of event.

First Aid

No

There is no requirement for the assessment of first-aid needs to be formal. Schools using the model policy template would already have identified their first aid requirements and general controls. The HSE toolkit can help to determine number of first aiders required under H&S legislation

Food preparation

 

Grounds Maintenance

Available soon

Applicable when school employ their own staff to undertake these functions.

Kiln use

  • Word 2003, 108kb/5 pages, 02/11/2010,
    Kiln.doc

 

LPG (bulk storage)

 

Ponds

  • Word 2003, 36kb/3 pages, 02/11/2010,
    ponds.doc

 

Pregnancy

Where risks are low this may be able to be demonstrated through normal line management / supervision process recording any significant outcomes / changes required as a result of meetings with staff.  

Return to work / individual risk assessment

 

 

Risk Assessments - Offsite Visits

Please note that these generic risk assessments are not to be regarded as definitive and that there are more to follow, particularly for adventurous activities. They have been prepared to assist with preparation of site or activity specific risk assessments. Staff should refer to, or cut and paste, the relevant bits of these generic risk assessments to fit them to their own specific requirements.

In compiling them I owe a particular debt of gratitude to Taff Bowles of East Riding Yorkshire Council and Martin Smith of Nottingham City Council, whose works I have heavily plundered. I am also grateful to the many colleagues who have sent me risk assessments as part of their offsite visit notifications, which have been extensively trawled in the process of producing these documents - if you see something you recognize as possibly being your work, then it probably is.

Mark Falkingham
Offsite Visits Adviser

Risk Assessments - Offsite Visits (Last Updated July 2009)

Accommodation

Canoeing and Kayaking

Castles and Other Historical Monuments


Coastal locations

Cycling

Example of Code of Conduct

Farm Visits

General Considerations

Indirect or Remote Supervision

Overseas Visits

Paddling in Open Waters

Play Areas

Pond Dipping

River Studies

Special Needs

Swimming in Open Waters

Swimming Pools

Travel by Rail (including Underground)

Theatres, Museums etc.

Theme Parks

Travel - Aeroplane

Travel - Coach

Travel - Ferry

Travel - General

Travel - Minibus

Travel - On foot

Travel - Private Vehicle