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School trips

Tackling the health and safety myths

A large number of school visits take place successfully each year. However, misunderstandings about health and safety law can sometimes discourage schools and teachers from organising these activities.

See the high-level statement

To tackle some of the myths about red tape and prosecution, HSE has published a policy statement to encourage all schools (in both maintained and independent sectors) and local authorities to remove wasteful bureaucracy imposed on those involved in organising school visits and outdoor learning activities.

HSE's statement makes clear:

If things go wrong

Where sensible and proportionate steps have been taken by a school and its staff, it is highly unlikely that there would be a breach of health and safety law involved, or that it would be in the public interest for HSE to bring a prosecution.

Prosecutions taken by HSE invariably involve a fatality (or near fatality) where there was recklessness or a clear failure to adopt sensible precautions. The fact that an accident occurs does not mean there was a breach of health and safety law if sensible, proportionate and appropriate precautions have been taken. Fears of prosecution by schools and their staff have been grossly inflated and are unwarranted. Such fears should not be a barrier to school trips taking place.

HSE statistics indicate that in the five-year period between 2005/06 and 2009/10 HSE has brought two prosecutions involving school visits.

Supporting material

Case studies

HSE has produced a number of case studies to illustrate and encourage proportionate responses to the planning and delivery of school visits.

Additional advice

HSE enforces health and safety legislation in relation to school visits. The education departments in England, Scotland and Wales also provide guidance and resources for schools.

Statistics

Over the five-year period 2005/06 to 2009/10:

Updated 2012-08-02