Health & Safety Closing for Easter

Health & Safety Closing for Easter

Posted  24th March 2021

The session was focussed on a few tips and checks for closing your site over the Easter holiday.

Despite being in a pandemic, with extreme infection control and everything relating to the pandemic, the Health, Safety and Fire standards that were there in 2019, are still present. It is therefore important to not find yourself in a position where your other H&S checks have gone off the radar. It is key to have a plan moving forward looking at preventative maintenance, contractor management, etc.

Key Checks and Tests during the Easter holidays:

It is important to note that the priority of the checks will vary slightly depending on the existing preventative plans in place, as well as how much of your building will be out of use / open during this time.

  1. Legionella and flushing routine: Checking up on all unused taps, for example garden hose taps that have not been used, or showers that have not been used. For example, you have those who cycle to school but as it has been colder, they may have not been cycling and therefore not using the showers. 
  2. Manual Call Point testing: Ensure you conduct manual tests of your fire alarm. Alarm systems need to be working throughout your site.
  3. Emergency Lights & Fire Door Inspections: This is dependent on the size of your site and the staff available. A lot of schools opt to not have this done during term time and schedule the checks for during the holiday period. This will also give you an idea of, depending on the state of your fire doors for example, what to add to your action plan for the next school holiday. 
  4. Fire Fighting Equipment Checks & General Housekeeping: Ensure all Fire Fighting equipment is in working order and things like:

    • fire extinguishers are not being used as doorstops, for example.
    • Sorting out cupboards that have been due for a while.
    • Ensuring fire exits are not being blocked with waste, especially as outside of term time it is easier for members of staff to be a bit more relaxed and forget some of the rules.

  5.  Swimming Pools & Gym Facilities (And other such areas): The holiday period would be a golden opportunity to have key maintenance carried out. Especially as a lot of areas like gyms have been closed for quite some time. It might also save time having your gas and electric contractors come in as well.


Considerations for full site closure over Easter:

As schools are often seen as a soft target over the holiday period, you need to ensure you have assessed your level of security when it comes to areas like boundary checks, alarms systems, as well as what / who has access to your site.

Another consideration is Legionella control. If the site has been shut for some time and certain pipes have been left with water in during this time, and other areas have not been flushed through, it is important to have a plan before re-opening to manage this.

Management of Contractors on site during the holiday period:

If there will be a lot of contractors coming, 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 are going work on site.

Part of your contract and vetting process is not only making sure they are competent to do the job, but they have given you a risk assessment that shows you what their COVID secure arrangements are, as well as their safe working practice.

It is good to think about and pre-plan how you will be supervising and working with them when they are on site. You will also need to satisfy yourself that they will be leaving your site safely.

Having a set policy for dealing with any contractor will help make the management process a lot smoother. These policies will not only be centred around the vetting process, but also checking whether the contractor is suitable for the job they will be required to do, as well as whether they are insured. We are more than happy to assist you with these.

Contingency plans are key for in case there is a last-minute change in the person you are expecting, or even need to make use of an alternative provider.

It is important to decide which member of staff will be taking the lead when it comes to what type of contractor, as well as ensuring that the lead person can be present. Spot checks like, a telephone call, are always a good idea– especially when it comes to high-risk activities.

As some insurers might recommend this, ensure that you have the right permits in place to carry out specific jobs. So that, if a contractor comes in, they only do what they are permitted to do and not any additional tasks that have not been checked beforehand.

Considerations for Lone Working:

Follow your lone working policy, or if it forms part of your existing H&S policy central document, follow that.

Ensure the lead person knows who is on site and during which times as well. Good practice would be to log attendance and visitors the same as during term time. This is of key importance for record keeping purposes. If for example a fire alarm goes off, you will know who is on your site and ensure everyone gets evacuated safely.

Medical considerations during lone working are another very important area to focus on. Regardless of the number on site, will there be adequate first aid around? A buddy system might be a good to implement and ensure regular welfare checks are done over the period. If the staff member has not checked in for a while and you cannot get hold of them, what would be the next step? Also never assume everyone has left your site for the day without having double checked via sign out register or email / phone contact if you cannot find them.

Think about what processes you have in place already, as well as the level of risk of that comes with doing certain work alone. For example, working at heights is a high-risk area and should be avoided at all costs.

Having an alarm system linked to an external company that would go and investigate if they get an alarm signal from your site, is also a safer way of ensuring you do not have your own staff going to check and walking into situations where they do not know what to expect.


Considerations for full site closure over Easter:

There is separate guidance called - The Protective Measures for Holiday and After-school clubs and other out of school settings. Be aware of this guidance and ensure the applicable staff are as well.

The main recommendation is that you have got in place COVID General Risk Assessments. You also should have a separate risk assessment for wraparound care / holiday clubs. A consideration is whether you will be providing these services, or will it be a third party.

If it's a third party you will be in contractor territory again, and all your vetting questions will come back in play again.

  • How is that third party going to manage everything? 
  • Not only COVID secure arrangements, but how are they going to use your site safely?
  • How can they use your onsite facilities safely, like toilets for example - Is it one in one out? How do they access them? If the fire alarm goes, do they know what to do?
  • Will they be bringing their own first aid trained staff, or would they expect you to provide it?

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 tara.jones@judicium.com.