23rd October 2020

Health & Safety – HSE autumn spot checks of schools

During the autumn 2020 term HSE carried out spot checks to determine the measures schools were taking to minimise the spread of Covid-19. 500 Scottish schools in 16 local authorities were contacted, these included schools in both the state and independent sectors.

The checks were initially carried out as a phone call where an HSE representative sought to understand that the school were following the relevant government guidance, and of the specific measures the schools were taking to protect their pupils, staff and visitors from the risks posed by Covid-19, including the preparation of a suitable and sufficient risk assessment. Of the 500 schools initially contacted by telephone, around 100, where compliance with the relevant guidance was less than certain, received a follow-up site visit by an HSE inspector. The common concerns identified during the site visits were non observance of physical distancing in staff rooms, lack of adequate building ventilation (a reliance only on opening windows and doors to introduce an adequate flow of fresh air) and cleaning arrangements. Any concerns raised by HSE during these site visits were resolved, positively, without the need for formal enforcement action.

While HSEs campaign concluded at the start of October, schools, and all other businesses, should continue to remain observant to changes in government guidance and to ensure that their risk assessments and procedures are adapted accordingly. As long as businesses have carefully developed effective measures to minimise the spread of Covid-19 in their workplace (in line with appropriate official advice), these measures have been successfully implemented, are kept under regular review and employees, and other affected stakeholders as necessary, are consulted with regards to them then there should be little cause for concern.

If you have any questions on any of the issues raised in the above article, please contact Gary Foggo.

23rd October 2020