Guidelines on Managing Health and Safety in Primary Schools
Why manage Health and Safety in Primary Schools?
The reasons for managing health and safety in primary schools is associated with moral, legal, and ethical reasons. Hazards and risks are present in schools as much as they are in any other workplace or industry.
Schools, however, provide a unique environment which serves as a workplace and is shared by students, who have a high need of care due to their vulnerability. Accidents and incidents that thus occur in the workplace, cause pain and suffering not only to the individual, but also to their family.
They affect the ability to perform work and impact on a person’s quality of life outside of work. It has been proven that many accidents, as well as cases of occupational ill-health at work, are as result of failure in managing safety, health, and welfare adequately.
The cost which is associated with occupational accidents can be substantially high and they can result in subsequent cost to employers, including, but not limited to:
- Sick pay, temporary replacement labour, early retirement, the recruiting of new labour and costs associated with retraining.
- The repair of damage to plant, equipment, materials, buildings, and products.
- The cost of time spent in dealing with accidents.
- Increased insurance premiums due to an increase in risk factors and/or legal costs, and
- Compensation claims
Who is responsible for Health and Safety in Schools?
The school is seen as the employer and the employer, as per the Occupational Health and Safety Act, is responsible for ensuring, as far as reasonably practicable, the safety, health, and welfare at work of its employees, thus staff and learners, along with the safety, health, and welfare of those who are in any way affected by the activities of the school.
Employees/Staff Health and Safety duties while at work
Not only does the employer have a legal obligation towards the safety, health, and welfare of employees, but employees also have a responsibility to their own safety, health, and welfare.
Employee duties, while at work, include the following:
- To take reasonable care in protecting their own safety, health, and welfare as well as the safety, health, and welfare, of any other person who may, in any way, be affected by the employee’s actions and omissions while in the workplace.
- To cooperate with the employer, or any other person, as far as necessary so that the employer, or any other person, can comply with the relevant statutory provisions.
- To attend training along with taking instruction on the correct use of equipment and other articles.
- To make correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and/or other protective clothing provided for the employee’s safety.
- To report any of the following to the employer; work being carried out which may endanger the employee and/or others, defects in the place of work, the system of work, and any substance or article which may endanger the employee and/or others, any contravention of the relevant statutory provisions of which the employee is aware, and
- Not to engage in any conduct which is regarded improper or dangerous behaviour.
It is the obligation of the employer to ensure that, despite whether they operate in the public or private sector, they provide a safe working environment for all employees and that any visitors to the premises are safeguarded.
What is a Health and Safety Management System in Schools?
The system fits into the entire management of the school and includes the following:
- School structure
- Planning activities
- Procedures, and
- Resources associated with the development, implementation, review, and maintenance of safety, health, and welfare.
The management system sets out the issues which need to be addressed. It is also a tool that can be used in the development of improvement programmes as well as self-audits and/or assessments.
There are five factors involved in establishing, and successfully achieving, Health and Safety management systems in schools, these include the following:
- Policy as well as commitment
- Measurement of performance, and
- Audit review
How can SafetyWallet assist a School in managing their Health and Safety Programme?
SafetyWallet offers all employers across all industries in South Africa with the solutions and services that they need to become fully compliant with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, all other relevant legislation, regulations, and more.
By subscribing to SafetyWallet, schools are provided with a system which can be implemented to maintain the relevant and necessary standards. It also ensures that school staff as well as learners are protected to the best of the school’s ability as the employer.
This ensures the safeguarding of staff, learners, and visitors to the premises and ensures that they can return home safe after work as well as school.