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Health and Safety in Schools - Avoiding Myths

Well folks, summer is coming to a close (shame) but we enter that phase again - myth busting season! And a sector which has can generate lots of its own myths and rumours is a sector we particularly feel close to, education. Perhaps because we care for our kids so much or, perhaps because we try too hard to protect them, we try to anticipate just about every risk and as a consequence, sometimes people can get over-zealous, make mistakes or misunderstanding can creeep in.....  And so, THE MYTH IS BORN. The scary thing is that people can find MYTHS in the world of health and safety, intimidating and difficult to challenge. But we here at T.S.O. encourage just that; challenge the myth.


Sometimes 'myths' can be avoided by having health and safety policies, risk assessments and other safe systems of work reviewed by specialists. As an example, we recently discovered a dress policy within a health and safety policy. We understand why - it was to help to protect people from harm. However, the way it was written, it also included people who were at no risk at all. In other words, the dress code intended to protect people, read as relating to everyone.  If it is the case that a dress code for the workplace covers everyone, then it should not be under the heading of health and safety.

The HSE has recently published a guidance article, with links to other important helpful information in relation to schools. This is what it says:-


HSE urges school leaders not to wrap kids in cotton wool

3 September 2014

As the new school year begins, HSE is reminding school leaders to strike the right balance in their approach to health and safety risks.

Bans on children wearing frilly sockshot drinks on school trips and supposed“dangerous footballs” from the playground, are just some of the cases HSE’s Mythbusters Challenge panel has ruled on, where schools have made over zealous and disproportionate decisions in the name of ‘health and safety’ when it comes to dealing with risks to children.

HSE has published new web-based guidance designed to support school leaders to strike the right balance and encourage them to avoid being risk averse. Whilst children need to be kept safe, they also should be able to learn through experience and play conkers without wearing goggles!

Geoff Cox, Head of HSE’s Public Services Sector said:

“Our myth busting shows that schools sometimes go over the top in their efforts to get health and safety right – but in some cases they don’t go far enough.

“We want to encourage school managers to use this guidance to find their own Goldilocks approach – not too much, not too little, but just the right balance. Real risks need to be managed, but that doesn’t mean wrapping children in cotton wool.”

HSE’s Public Services Sector consulted with local government and education stakeholders, the teaching unions and schools health and safety managers to develop the guidance.

For more on common health and safety myths in schools and striking the right balance see:

if you need professional advice, support or training on this or on any other topic, please contact us via our freephone number or leave a messave via our online contact.