Health & Safety Checklist for Use in Classrooms
Health and Safety in a classroom environment is vital for all using the space – from pupils to teachers, assistants and visitors. Checking to make sure that all concerned are operating in a healthy and safe space can seem daunting, but essentially it is a matter of common sense. To help you to ensure health and safety all around, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has compiled a useful Health and Safety Checklist which provides an easy way to assess potential hazards in a regular classroom. With the aid of this checklist, you can easily assess Health and Safety. It is recommended that the check is undertaken each term, or when significant changes occur, to identify and Health and Safety issues that need to be dealt with. Note that the checklist is not designed for use in specialist classrooms or drama and sports facilities, laboratories, art rooms or IT and design and technology areas. The checklist is used in conjunction with ongoing school-wide approaches to assessing and managing risks.
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A range of areas are covered in detail. The section on slips and trips deals with the condition of flooring; changes in floor level or type of flooring; clear gangways between desks; any trailing electrical leads or cables; sufficient lighting and procedures to handle any spillages. For stand-alone classrooms, staff are advised to check that any access steps or ramps are well maintained, as well as considering if there are adequate handrails.
With regard to falls, the checklist asks if an appropriate step stool or step ladder is available if needed and, if there are opening windows high in the classroom, is an appropriate window-opener available and in use.
The section pertaining to furniture and fixings addresses the condition of permanent fixtures, such as cupboards, display boards and shelving; as well as checking if furniture is in good order and sized appropriately for the users. Assessors are further advised to see if portable equipment, such as a television set, is housed on a suitable surface. With regard to manual handling, advise if adequate trolleys are provided for heavy equipment, such as computers, etc. Hot surfaces such as radiators should be protected where necessary to avoid the risk of burns, especially to young children. Check also if any window restrictors used in upper level windows are in good condition.
In classrooms where computers are in use, ensure that a workstation assessment has been completed and that pupils are made aware of good practice when using computers.
It is advisable to check all electrical equipment and services to ensure that all switches and plug sockets, as well as plugs and cables, are in good condition. Ensure that any portable electrical equipment has been checked and, where appropriate, tested regularly for safety. Report any damaged electrical equipment that has been taken out of service or replaced.
Some schools still contain asbestos. If this is the case, are staff aware of the location and condition? Ensure that staff are further aware of the guidelines regarding securing anything to walls or ceilings that may contain asbestos.
Potential fire hazards present a great risk to all using the classroom, so check any existing fire exit doors to ensure that they are unobstructed, kept unlocked and easy to open from inside. Observe if fire-fighting equipment is readily available and that fire evacuation procedures are clearly displayed. Ensure that fire evacuation drills are well known, and that these include procedures for dealing with any vulnerable adults or children.
With regard to ventilation and heating, note if the room has natural ventilation. Query if an appropriate room temperature can be maintained and that blinds or similar window dressing are provided to protect from glare and heat from the sun.
Use your common sense and knowledge of activities in the classroom to identify any other potential hazards. Although not exhaustive, the HSE Checklist can prove a useful tool to help you ensure the safety and comfort of all in the classroom. A downloadable checklist is available on http://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/classroom-checklist.pdf.Read the full story here
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