Leicester NUT Section of the NEU

Andy Haynes, Leicester H&S Officer, 1st September 2017

Health & Safety Matters: New Year - Same Old Problems!

The start of a new year is the ideal time to think about Health and Safety in your school and to head off problems before they occur. Key to this must be having a properly elected or appointed union H&S representative who can be trained to look for hazards and know what to do to resolve them. Another reason for having H&S reps is that they have the legal right to insist that a school has an H&S Committee with union representatives on it. This makes raising issues with the school management very much easier.

We all know what some of the problems might be. If there were problems with keeping the school at the right temperature last year, has something been done about it or will the same thing happen again? It's no good waiting until December and then complaining that the building is freezing! Is the lighting round the outside areas adequate when you leave after late meetings? Do the paths get gritted properly when it's icy? Each school has its own particular quirks. Try to make sure that they don't make your job more difficult than it need be.

Fire Safety

The Grenfell fire tragedy brought attention to all things related to fire safety. Astonishingly most of the new school buildings in Leicester did not have sprinkler systems fitted despite this adding only a tiny amount to the cost. No lives have ever been lost in the UK because of a fire in a building with a sprinkler system. Only recently a major fire was prevented in a Nottingham school because the sprinkler system stopped it before it could get properly started. Leicester NUT has asked the Local Authority to look into installing sprinkler systems retrospectively. You can help by raising the issue with your local councillor or your MP


A recent survey found that very few teachers in England knew if their school contained asbestos, and if so where it was, yet 90% of schools do contain asbestos. Most of the asbestos in Leicester schools has been removed, and what remains is usually well managed, but there is still a risk. Ask if there is any in your school and make sure you know where it is. If you are not satisfied with the answers you get, contact the union office as a matter of urgency.

Stress Surveys

Many schools will be carrying out stress surveys at this time of year. This is not good practice because it's pretty obvious that stress is likely to be at it's lowest just now. If your school is doing a stress survey you could point this out to them. If a survey has not been carried out during the previous 12 months the school should be challenged about this. They have a legal duty to manage stress and without having a survey to monitor the situation they can't discharge this duty properly. Teachers need to play their part by engaging with the process and taking it seriously. It's easy to understand why some have a jaundiced view about schools only paying lip service to stress management, but it's our opportunity to raise concerns. A stress survey should always be anonymous.


Related articles

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Health & Safety Adviser - 2017 Annual Report (7th March 2017)
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Health & Safety Matters - training and other news (5th October 2016)
Health & Safety Matters - Display Screen Equipment, Manual Handling, Safety in Swimming Lessons (25th May 2016)
Health & safety matters - best practice back-saving tips for Primary Teachers (12th February 2016)
Health & Safety Matters - the minefield of technology (15th January 2016)
Health & Safety Matters - heating systems, winter, TU Reform Bill, asbestos in crayons (13th November 2015)
Health & Safety Matters - Stress - and Sun (9th May 2015)
Health & Safety Matters (30th January 2015)
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Health & Safety Matters - Stress, Industrial Action, Asbestos (22nd September 2014)
Health & Safety Matters - Pupils with medical conditions, asbestos management, gas masks and military helmets, European H&S Week (27th June 2014)
Health & Safety Matters - High temperatures, training, regional conference (30th May 2014)
Health and Safety Matters - asbestos, mental health, medicines (17th February 2014)
Health and Safety Matters - risk assessments, asbestos, Wear Something Light, winter weather, school reps (9th December 2013)
Health and Safety Matters - Asbestos, Temperatures, Training (7th October 2013)
Health and Safety Matters: Beating the No Compensation Culture (4th September 2013)
Health and Safety Matters - asbestos, school reps (3rd June 2013)
Health & Safety Matters - E-Safety, Stress Audits (14th January 2013)
Wintery problems (12th November 2012)
Health and Safety Matters: H&S Inspections, Updates, Training (8th October 2012)
Thalassaemia and Sickle Cell Disorder (4th September 2011)
Health and Safety Matters: Eyesight, Reps, Chairs, Viruses and Training (2nd February 2011)
Asbestos Exposure (9th September 2009)
Eyesight Tests (9th September 2009)
Health & Safety Matters: Working at Height, Training, Accident Reporting (13th February 2009)
Extreme Teachers (13th February 2009)
Safety Committees & Representatives (3rd December 2008)
Crazy about work (3rd December 2007)
Building Work (8th October 2007)
Interactive Whiteboards (8th October 2007)
Is Your School Safe? (5th March 2007)
Mobile Phones (8th May 2006)
Calling Health and Safety Reps (3rd April 2006)
New Health and Safety Advisor (7th November 2005)

Related documents

A Quick Guide to Health and Safety in Your School (1st September 2010)