In this article we will highlight some of the most common hazards found in schools, and by identifying them you can ensure you implement suitable control measures to minimise the risks associated with them.
What is a hazard?
Firstly, we should cover what a hazard actually is.
A hazard is anything that has the potential to cause harm, damage or loss. This includes injuries, ill-health and damage to properties, equipment etc.
Hazards generally fall into six broad groups:
It is best to be familiar with all of these groups as most, if not all of them, will be applicable to your school.
1. Slips, Trips and Falls
Slips, trips and falls are the most common cause of accidents in schools. These can cause both minor injuries (sprains, bruising) and major injuries (incapacitation or even death in severe cases).
Slips and trips are more common when there is ice / snow / wet floors etc., if stairs or carpets are damaged or when there are obstructions (coats, bags).
Simple, cost-effective control measures include ensuring good house-keeping across all areas of the workplace. This includes ensuring items are stored correctly and undertaking regular inspections to ensure everywhere is clear.
2. Manual Handling
The main causes of manual handling injuries in schools are:
The most effective way to reduce risks from manual handling is avoiding manual handling altogether wherever possible. However, other control measures such as adopting good posture and using mechanical aids will also reduce risks from manual handling activities.
3. Work at Height
Work at height is 'work in any place where, if precautions were not taken, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury'.
Some of the causes of work at height injuries in schools include using faulty / inappropriate equipment (using a chair instead of a stepladder), lack of training and hanging up artwork or displays.
Control measures for work at height activities include effective organisation / planning, providing suitable training and using appropriate equipment.
Here we have highlighted just a few of the key health and safety hazards found in schools.
We go through a wider range of hazards in more detail in our School Safety Online accredited training course including fire, asbestos and hazardous substances.