As schools prepare to make a return to ‘normal’ service, the focus in recent times has been on COVID-secure measures, but those in charge of site safety and security should also ensure that this is not at the expense of other important health and safety considerations.
Clear, the safety and compliance specialist with a strong track record of working in the education sector, advises the following checks are made prior to opening up the school to normal pupil numbers next week:
- Carry out a site walk of the whole site. It's good to involve a senior leader as well as the site manager. Look out for issues around the perimeter such as harmful litter (for example discarded sharps in the grounds, smashed bottles) and broken or perished play equipment
- Review the standard of cleaning and housekeeping, ensure all electrics (switches/sockets) and lights work and are safe
- Check that all fire exits are clear and operational. Test the fire alarm system and make sure that all sounders and emergency mechanisms work (such as door releases and shutters). Make sure that all smoke/heat heads are uncovered (since these are often covered during work undertaken by contractors). Check fire doors to ensure they are operational and able to close with an effective good seal. Visually check all fire extinguishers to rule out any potential tampering / changed siting of extinguishers.
- Check that all plant room functions are fully operational
- Flush all water outlets thoroughly to clear any bacteriological build-up. Descale any showerheads
- Test all emergency lighting
- If automated gates feature on the site, check that the photocells are not obstructed by debris/leaves and plants (similarly on a sliding gate, check that the runback is not constricted by a build-up of leaves); check the foundations of the gate and gate posts are still secure; look for signs of wear and tear on the hinges and ram pivots; check control box is securely fixed and locked; check any audible warning / flashing light / general warning signs are still fitted and visible; check manual release and location of manual release keys. Book the routine maintenance visit if it is overdue
- Check windows and access points for any damage/vandalism
- Carry out visual inspections of all equipment such as machinery in DT/workshops, science labs, kitchens, sports equipment and lifts. If statutory examinations have lapsed during lockdown, take equipment out of service until these can be completed
- Carry out visual checks of the condition of known asbestos-containing materials
First published: March 2021