Health & Safety: More than just Policies

Health & Safety: More than just Policies

Posted  17th June 2021

The session was focussed on a few tips and considerations when it comes to looking at Health & Safety Policies.

Policies form part of the day-to-day operations and for lots of schools, when they think of policies, they think of the big folder on shelf somewhere containing all of these.

Even though this might be a great starting point, it is important to be practical about these policies and tailoring them to your school. There is no point having masses of documents when actually two might be enough.

Key considerations when it comes to your policies:

  • Oversight and review: Both are essential for keeping a policy relevant, up to date and of high quality. Regular reviews are needed to identify any physical changes to your building. The management team responsible for oversight of the review process, can help ensure your policies stay up to date. This is key to ensuring they do not become redundant polices on a dusty shelf somewhere.

  • Local decision: Having a general overarching Health & Safety policy is a good start. It is however recommended to have a look at your more specific areas. Make a local decision and have discussions on whether to have a “bulky” policy, or separate policies for your significant subject areas that might require more detail. The latter is recommended by Judicium and examples of these include fire management and educational visits.

  • Staff roles and responsibilities: Ensure your policy sets out all of the different staff roles and responsibilities. Break down the different areas of who does what and when do they actually need to do it. Start with your key responsible people like Headteachers / Principals and Governors, then your SLT and any particular roles where there might be specialist requirements. Once you have worked through all of this, check whether it’s the same as the previous year or updated accordingly.

  • Identify training needs: Consider where core training for key roles might be needed, additionally to your basic Health & Safety training done by all staff. Does your Health & Safety lead require specialist management lever training, for example? Does this role require first aid or fire training? Instructor led training might also be needed in some cases. Another consideration is whether a period of shadowing or supervision is needed for a member of staff.

  • Overview of procedures and processes: Ensure your policies cover the processes of how certain areas are managed and carried out. The policy should go through details of how you book trips, how you vet contractors, providing activities, what your training needs are for staff, your emergency responses and your first aid needs assessments.

    Further examples include reference to the asbestos management plan in place and how it will be implemented or an overview of fire management provisions with direct reference to the specific Fire Management Policy that contains the details.

Is it necessary to consult staff on draft policies?

It’s a legal requirement to consultant on matters pertaining to H&S and any organisational/operational changes that affect staff’s health, safety or welfare:

  • The Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977
  • The Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996

The HSE has also released a guide called “Consulting employees on health and safety”.

Doing this will ensure staff have the opportunity to give feedback on drafts, the staff carrying out the roles concerned with any new information to consider. This can also give you the opportunity to further identify any support that might be required by staff. This also helps to give you a good overview of not only the legal standards that you have to comply with, or the HSE inspection, but your best practice.

Top tip: Only consult with the applicable group of staff. For example, there is not point to send anything relating to a cleaning policy to majority of your staff, if it only relates to your cleaning team.

It’s important to keep record of consulting with your staff. It might be a good idea to have a process written into your review timetable as this will dictate how often this is done, by whom it’s done and how you have this consultation with staff.

Who is responsible for signing off and approving your polices?

With regards to the above it’s important to tailor it to the appropriate person and ensure that they are involved.

  • Do you have a specific committee for health & safety compliance?
  • Do you have a lead governor / trustee for health, safety and fire?

When it comes to Headteachers / Principals, consider who they will be working with and who they are supported by in terms of finalising these polices. Headteachers are the ultimate responsible person on site for the day-today compliance. Thus, they need to be confident that they have policies in place that work and are applicable to their school. Also, that the right people have seen it before they put their name to it. Making sure that the health & safety lead and SLT have followed the process of collating all the information and that it’s been fed back up the chain for approval. Ensure that this is not just a tick-box exercise.

If there are lots of contractors working on site in a condensed period, ensure you have thought about how they will be working safely around your staff. Ensure that your contractors have fully explained to you how they’re going work on site. Part of your contract and vetting process is not only making sure they're competent to do the job, but they've given you a risk assessment that shows you what their COVID secure arrangements are, as well as their safe working practice.

It might be worth to have these looked at by an external provider as fresh objectives eyes might pick up something missed or maybe not considered.

Recommended Training for Headteachers and SLT:

  • Health & Safety Basics for Schools - Mandatory
  • Fire Safety Training for Schools - Mandatory
  • Manual Handling for Schools - Mandatory
  • Working at Height (Basics) for Schools - Mandatory
  • Fire Warden Training for Schools (If appointed) - Mandatory
  • Stress Management in Schools for Employees - Mandatory
  • Stress Management in Schools for Headteachers - Mandatory
  • Accident / Incident Investigation for Schools - Recommended
  • Accident / Incident Reporting for Schools - Recommended
  • Lone Working in Schools - Recommended
  • Health and Safety Management in Schools: Heads of Department - Recommended
  • Risk Assessment Training for Schools: Educational Visits -Recommended
  • Risk assessment training for Schools General (SLT only) - Recommended
  • COSHH Risk Assessment Training for Schools (SLT Only) – Recommended

Please see below link for details about Judicium’s Health & Safety eLearning Library:

Judicium’s also offers CPD accredited On-site Live training:

To find out more about our full Health and Safety please see the link below:

If you require any support in any of these steps, or would like to talk to someone surrounding some support for your school please do not hesitate to call us on 0203 326 9174 or email