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Changes to the Health and Safety Guidelines for Schools
Posted by David Cant on August 29, 2012

The Coalition has managed to reduce the number of guidelines that are issued to schools by a staggering 95%.  The number of pages in the health and safety guidelines has been reduced from 150 to just 8, which will make a huge difference for schools and their heads when it comes to working through the red tape.

Health and Safety for Schools

The guidelines were introduced as a way of helping to keep pupils safe while they are at school or out on trips their school organises. The cuts have come after many schools were no longer allowing children to conduct science experiments or stopping the number of organised trips simply to avoid breaching the health and safety guidelines.

HSE Provide Information for Planning Trips

There are many myths regarding the organisation of trips in education.  In order to try and encourage schools to take their pupil out for valuable educational experiences the HSE published a paper designed to tackle the myths head on.  The paper was aimed at informing schools that there are many benefits that come with taking students out of the traditional classroom setting and allowing them to learn in different environments. The main message provided was that wrapping children in cotton wool is not a way of getting pupils to learn.  Some of the advice offered includes:

  • Schools need to have procedures in place that will help to encourage teachers to plan, organise and hold successful trips outside of the school that are not hindered by bureaucracy.
  • The risk assessments must be realistic rather than focusing on trivial and fanciful hazards
  • Lower risk trips are to be a lot quicker to organise while high risk activities such as climbing or caving are adequately planned and assessed.
  • Sensible precautions must be put in place that will work in practice
  • Providing information to teachers, parents and pupils if appropriate is necessary to express what precautions are required and why they are needed.
  • Creating and knowing when to apply contingency plans is important and will need communicating.

Keeping Things in Proportion

If there is an accident on a school trip the police and the Health and Safety Executive will work together.  It is worth noting that the Health and Safety Executive will not investigate the incident as a direct response to any civil claims made against the school. It is not likely for a school to be prosecuted by the HSE if they are able to see that sensible precautions were in place that were in proportion with the activity.

When planning trips you must establish what the risks are and decide sensible measures that can be put in place to reduce these risks.  Businesses are also accountable for their employees’ safety on organised trips away from the workplace.  If you are unaware of any guidelines, or are finding it difficult to break through any red tape regarding your organisation of trips the health and safety consultants are on hand to provide assistance. For information regarding health and safety services please call 0800 1488 677 and discuss your concerns with our helpful advisors.


Director at Veritas Consulting. 20+ years as a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner with a brain you can pick. A trusted, risk savvy portfolio professional who is fluent in practical advice and an effective workplace solutionist.

You can find him on - Twitter and Facebook also Linkedin

This post has been filed in: Health and Safety at Work, Health and Safety Law, Health and Safety Management, Health and Safety Services, Workplace Health and Safety

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