Recover from health and safety failings: Safety tips for schools

BY NOW THE NEAR-POISONING/ACID ATTACK BY A 12-YEAR OLD AT A SCHOOL IN LAGOS SHOULD BE OLD GIST. DESPITE THIS, MANY STILL REFER TO THEM WHEN TALKING ABOUT SCHOOL SAFETY FAILINGS.

Yes that is what happens when the misfortune of health and safety failings fall on you. Do you want to be a reference for bad and ugly things? Can your business survive that?

Let’s face it, health and safety failings can break a school and ruin its reputation. How the school picks herself up from their failings is what matters. I always tell people that if you decide to save money and not do what is right, when things go wrong, you will find yourself spending more than what you should have spent in the first place putting things right.

So in continuation from my last post Lekki British School Saga: What would you have done?, I have compiled here some information schools will find useful especially if they are just getting started with safety or when trying to recover from health and safety failings. A lot of schools are not where they should be safety wise and yes you can start gradually so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

What they need is a safety system.

A safety system that takes care of your unique needs as a school/business. You need to have safety signs, health care system (a clinic or sick bay), first aid facilities, identified fire exits that are clear of obstruction, proper storage especially for chemicals and cleaning materials and a host of other stuff. Feeling the heat already?

1. Start with a Health and Safety Policy

The truth is you need just the right policies to cover alot of things as they affect you. You do not need a million policies. Who is going to read or implement them? What is needed from you is your commitment to safety clearly stated in your health and safety policy. This is the first thing a business must have when it comes to safety.

The health and safety policy must state clearly your commitment to safety of your staff, students and visitors and your evidence of how you minimise risks and subsequently accidents

It must include the safety responsibilities of everyone in your school/organisation including the children. Oh yes, the children have the responsibility of adhering to safety instructions, reporting concerns and problems and playing a role in keeping themselves and others safe by not interfering with safety rules and arrangements. Children too must know the penalties for failing in their responsibility.

2. Special policies

I call them special as they are policies designed to cover specific areas of your school business. For example, transportation policy.

Do you have a transport system? That is, do you operate a school bus service? Then you need a transportation policy. I always advise to keep it short and simple. You cannot provide a million 100-page policies and expect people to read them. That is a dangerous move.

Are the buses properly registered, insured and maintained/serviced regularly?

What rules and procedures do the drivers and escorts have to abide by and follow? What kind of training is available for them and provided?

How do you ensure the children are in safe hands and get to their destinations on time and safely?

Other special policies?

In addition to the above, you should have a child protection policy. This is very important. There is one by Lagos state. You can download it here.

You should also have a food services policy, infection control policy that covers disease prevention and control, playground policy (if you have a playground), laboratory policy (if you have laboratories), ICT usage policy (especially if you have a dedicated ICT room and provide internet access), behaviour policy that states acceptable behaviour from staff and pupils; and other necessary policies depending on the needs your school/business.

Always remember that penalties for failing to adhere to your policies and procedures must be included in your policies and be widely known all over the school. You the employer must make sure you are firm when it comes to dishing out the “punishments”. If not, your staff and pupils will see your policies as mere paperwork and will continue to flaunt them.

Your tasks, activities, infrastructure and processes will help you identify the policies you need too have in place. I repeat, they don’t have to be bulky.

3. Emergency plan/preparedness

The children are excited about making a 3-course meal right? All is going well until a pot of oil is forgotten by one of them on the hob. Teacher is too busy tasting and giving praise to notice this. It gets hotter and hotter and eventually catches fire just like that! The fire looks scary. No one knows what to do so everyone starts to scream fire and run out. Unfortunately, this led to one part of the school’s building getting destroyed and some of the children getting hurt from all the chaos.

If only someone knew how to use the extinguisher. You had one but it just stood there begging to be used.

In the event of a fire or other emergency, are your staff and children aware of what to do? Do they know how to evacuate safety and swiftly? Do they know how to perform CPR or use a fire extinguisher?

There is a whole lot to do to keep your schools safe but let’s start with the above mentioned points!

We can help you

Safety is an over-ignored feature in schools. The truth is, your school business cannot survive without safety. You are at risk of losing parents, suffering from gossip and bad reputation and even the risk of shutting down if something as bad as a disability or death happens in your school out of negligence.

Many schools are reactive rather than proactive. Ever noticed how being reactive costs a lot more than being proactive? Why not start right?

Do you want to be the school everyone uses as an example when talking about health and safety failings? I would rather my business was used as a reference point when people need to a system to refer to (for imitation sake) when trying to set up their own structure. Don’t you want people doing as you do?

Let us help you create a functional health and safety system, an emergency plan and evacuation procedure. At Safe Schools, we help you and show you how until you get it right.

Want to know how we can help your school set up and manage its safety system? Check out this image below for services we provide and our contact details. You can save it by right clicking the image!

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