Roles and Responsibilities for Health and Safety in Schools
Legally speaking, all responsibility for health and safety rests with the employer (school). They in turn need to delegate various roles to ensure that health and safety systems are managed effectively. It is of the utmost importance that parents know their children are safe and that employees feel that their health and safety is taken seriously. Proper management will also ensure that resources aren’t wasted on preventable emergencies.
We will briefly outline the various roles and responsibilities below:
- This includes a thorough health and safety policy statement and a safety budget (this is usually under control of the school governing body, and ultimately the Department of Education).
- Head Teachers:
- They are responsible for day-to-day management of health and safety. This includes having the authority to close the school in the event of an emergency. They also need to ensure regular inspections are carried out, submit inspection reports to the local education authority, pass on any information received to the relevant parties, carry out investigations, chair the school’s health and safety committee, identify staff training needs, and liaise with the Department of Education on policy issues. The head teacher will always be liable when it comes to section 37 of the OHS Act being met.
- Heads of Departments:
- Their roles include daily management of health and safety, compiling and reviewing departmental procedures, carrying out regular inspections, and responding and adding to reports.
- Other Teaching Staff:
- Heads of departments are responsible for their curriculum areas (such as Science laboratories). All teachers are liable for their actions, even if they have not been officially appointed, including basic classroom health and safety. They also need to ensure that any equipment they use, on their own or with learners, is checked for safety. Proper safety procedures need to be followed, protective equipment used when necessary, and full participation in all inspections is required. Any problems identified need to be reported to their head of department.
- Governors are responsible for monitoring health and safety (such as analysing inspection reports), prioritising actions, ensuring these actions are taken, and delivering an annual report on health and safety to the Department of Education.
- Education Authority (Department of Education)
- This final authority is responsible for confirming priorities, monitoring inspection reports, arranging audits, reviewing health and safety policies regularly, providing information, analysing accidents and ill health, and providing training.
Educational Services Industry