Health and Safety at School - Part 2
29 February 2016
Who is responsible for the health and safety of students when they are on an Education Outside the Classroom experience such as a school camp?
The board of trustees and the organisation that runs the camp.
In the situation where there is more than one organisation (PCBU) involved each has a duty to ensure the health and safety of the people affected by the work they do or service they provide. So in this case the board of trustees and the Camp organisers have to consult, cooperate and coordinate to look after the health and safety of the pupils, parents and teachers going to the camp. Together they will need to make sensible arrangements to ensure risks are managed, which largely happens already.
Is the board of trustees responsible for the health and safety of parents who help out at school camp?
Volunteers are a vital part of the support networks for schools, particularly in the area of Education Outside the Classroom. The new law won't get in the way of parents and caregivers playing their part to help kids experience the great outdoors nor in schools. People volunteering to support a school camp or other one off activities such as school fairs and sausage sizzles, will be classed as 'casual volunteers' – a category that applies to people volunteering for educational, sports or recreational institutions. The school has a duty to the volunteers just as it does to parents or other members of the public when they are in the school. The duties between a BoT, the EOTC provider and these volunteers are effectively the same as those that exist under the current law.
Is the board of trustees liable if a child is hurt in the playground?
Focus on risk rather than accident because managing risk (as far as reasonable practicable) is how you will meet your duties. If a risk is not adequately managed there could be enforcement action whether or not there is an accident. That means:
- If a school board is aware of a risk, manages that risk so far as reasonably practicable and a child is still hurt as a result of that risk then the BoT is unlikely to face penalty.
- If a school board is aware of the risk, does nothing about it and a child is hurt as a result of that risk then the BoT could face some form of penalty.
- If a school board is aware of a risk, does nothing about it and a child isn't hurt then the BoT could still face some form of penalty.
There has been a lot of focus on the playground but there are many school activities where stringent health and safety practises are already necessary, and most schools routinely manage these. Consider the risks associated with a secondary school chemistry lab, metal and wood working workshops, stored chemicals for them school pool, sporting equipment etc. BoTs should already have clear policies and practises for health and safety in all the schools activities and for all affected people.
For more information click the link WorkSafe - Schools