If you’re anything like me, health and safety is one of those areas that makes me groan (inwardly of course!) We all know it’s important but with so many other things demanding our attention, if we are not careful it can be parked until we have more time…. until something happens to make it urgent. If you are not sure where to start, here are some practical pointers.
Don’t forget that health and safety makes up a significant chunk of the Leading Support Services element of our professional standards. If you feel out of your comfort zone, that’s probably a sign you need to take action!
Starting can be the hardest step – these are my thoughts:
- Make it a priority
- Use your membership
- Go online
- Get some training
1. Make it a priority
Are you familiar with thinking about your time (at work or at life) as a glass jar?
Important, high priority goals can be thought of as rocks; less important but urgent tasks as pebbles and other less important but time-consuming jobs as sand. If you fill your jar – or time – with pebbles and sand you could struggle to fit in the rocks! Plan to fit them in – prioritise.
Use your networks: other schools may have the expertise you need.
- Ask for help: spend an hour with a more experienced colleague from another school to get ideas, practical pointers and documents to tailor.
- Organise a workshop: get a group of schools together to swap ideas and share good practice.
- Can your partner schools recommend external consultants or could you peer review one another?
- Explore ways of sharing any expertise you find in the group.
This is great personal development and can strengthen your ties with other schools. Check out what your local authority can offer. If you’re in a multi-academy trust, what support is available to you centrally or from other schools? Do any of your governors or trustees have health and safety expertise to share?
3. Use your membership
ISBL offer a wealth of information on the website. I particularly like this bright, clear and concise document which summarises different areas of health and safety and what good practice looks like:
There is also a good general overview here: https://isbl.org.uk/Resource/Factsheets/Health-and-Safety.aspx with links to other websites and resources.
4. Go online
The Health and Safety Executive has an excellent website with a specialist area dedicated to education including common sense advice, FAQ’s, classroom checklists and safety alerts. It can be found here: http://www.hse.gov.uk/services/education/index.htm
Government advice on health and safety for schools can also be found here - a reasonably concise pdf guide with links to other resources: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/335111/DfE_Health_and_Safety_Advice_06_02_14.pdf
5. Get some training
Still feel that you need more information? Or perhaps now you are feeling more confident you’re ready to expand your knowledge?
An internet search on health and safety online training will find any number of providers able to provide training tailored to schools. The big advantage of these courses is that you take them at a time and place that suits you. Does anyone have any recommendations?
ISBL runs courses on all aspects of the professional standards including IOSH approved training for SBMs (details here: https://isbl.org.uk/Training.aspx). How about arranging a group training session with other schools and grow your professional network? Attending group training can be great for sharing experiences too. Time out of school can allow you to focus on an important area.
Rowena Morris made a convincing case for IOSH training in her blog last July here: http://bit.ly/NASBMBlog18
In summary, prioritising and identifying the support you need, making the most of free resources and making time for some training if necessary should help you on your health and safety journey.
By Sarah Chambers - January 2018