Is it really health and safety?

Health and safety is sometimes used as an excuse to justify not allowing some school activities to go ahead when in fact health and safety legislation does not apply.

What does health and safety legislation cover?

Health and safety law applies to work activities carried out by the school, including off-site activities such as school trips. The law applies to risks to staff, pupils and visitors created by those work activities. The law also applies to the work of contractors in the school.

Health and safety risks in schools typically include on site transport movements, falls from height, slips and trips, stress management, work related violence, asbestos management, legionella, construction and maintenance activities and manual handling.

What is not covered by health and safety legislation?

Schools have to manage many other child protection, public safety and public health issues that are not regulated by occupational health and safety law. This can lead to confusion about 'health and safety' requirements.

Some examples of where other authorities have responsibility include:

  • Promoting the welfare and wellbeing of pupils
  • Communicable diseases
  • Behaviour and discipline of pupils
  • Criminal record checks
  • Food hygiene
  • Driving/ licensing of school minibus drivers
  • Use of seat belts on buses
  • Waste and pollution control

Guidance, advice and links to further resources on these topics is available from the government website. Find out more about how health and safety legislation applies to the workplace.

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Updated: 2023-08-16