The Chair of the Health and Safety Commission has urged teachers to take a sensible approach to risk assessment, in order to ensure that school trips remain a part of every child's education.
Speaking at the NASUWT conference fringe meeting in Birmingham yesterday evening, Judith Hackitt said, "School trips are an essential part of every child's education and by not finding a way to make them happen we are failing in our duty to prepare them for life."
"Health and safety is used by many as an excuse for not doing things. My message is to take a common sense and proportionate approach when managing the health and safety aspects of organising a school trip. Share good practice with colleagues, reams of paper work is rarely the way to effective safety management."
She went on to say, "We know there are many schools and colleges where teachers are managing risks sensibly and responsibly, there are many examples of good and best practice. But it is essential that those good practices are shared and acted upon; it makes no sense for every school or college to have to learn when others have found acceptable ways of managing things."
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched its sensible risk campaign
to encourage a simple and practical approach to risk assessment which enables innovation and learning. The campaign aims to encourage important recreational and learning activities for individuals where the risks are sensibly managed.
A recent survey of local education authorities found around 500,000 teacher days were lost last year in Britain due to stress at an estimated cost of £84 million. HSE offers practical advice in the form of Management Standards
for work related stress.
Judith Hackett reminded teachers that slips, trips and falls remain the most common cause of major injury in schools, accounting for 40% of all injuries reported to staff. She said, "One of the reasons falls remain so commonplace is because people fail to recognise the potential serious resulting consequences. The steps to prevent falls are pretty straight forward, if you spot a hazard, don’t assume 'somebody else will sort it out'. This common sense approach would make a huge difference in teaching."
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