Schools health and safety information update

27 Apr 2021

The Department for Education and the Health and Safety Executive have revised parts of their guidance on managing school health and safety risks in schools - An overview of the new guidance is below.

Fire safety in schools

The government has announced new regulations to boost building safety. The new measures, announced as part of the government’s response to the Fire Safety Consultation, will come into force as part of the legislation in the buildings Fire Safety Bill.

In anticipation of the new regulations, Children’s Services have updated their guidance on schools fire safety on EGfL.

Managing asbestos in schools and colleges

The DfE recently issued revised guidance for schools and colleges to help them understand their duties in relation to managing asbestos.

This provides information and advice for those who manage schools or oversee the maintenance and repair of school buildings. 

For further information is available on GOV.UK: Managing asbestos in your school or college.

Preventing musculoskeletal disorders in the early year’s workforce

In response to increasing intelligence about the high incidence of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) affecting workers in the early years sector, HSE initiated the formation of a working group with interested stakeholders and employee representatives to explore the evidence and provide sector guidance.

In addition to RIDDOR reported injuries resulting from specific accidents, many workers in the sector experience non-reportable back, knee, neck and shoulder pain as a result of frequent, cumulative exposure to musculoskeletal hazards e.g. repetitive lifting.

The high prevalence of MSDs in the sector appear to be linked to workers having to adopt awkward postures and using furniture and equipment (e.g. chairs and desks) designed to meet the ergonomic needs of young children, to facilitate engagement with young children at their own level.

The working group has developed and published guidance on the Awareness and prevention of back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders in the early years workforce, hosted on the Early Years Alliance website and available free of charge.

Further research is being carried out by Derby University and additional information is available using the above link.

It is hoped that the information from this project will be used to inform the future curriculum, support the development of suitable training for workers in the early years sector and to help embed an understanding of the issues and measures that are effective in preventing injury and ill health.

Legionella risks during the coronavirus pandemic

Water system stagnation can occur due to lack of use where buildings or facilities e.g. changing room showers, have been closed or had reduced occupancy during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, increasing the risks of Legionnaires' disease.

Where schools intend to reinstate or start using water or relevant air conditioning systems, they will need to review their risk assessment and work with their competent person to ensure that systems are cleaned, if required, and disinfected before the building is occupied.

If the water system has been used regularly, it should be sufficient to maintain the appropriate measures to prevent legionella growth.

Further information and guidance can be found on the HSE website: Legionella risks during the coronavirus pandemic

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Last updated: 27 Apr 2021

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