It’s important not to lose sight of your wider health and safety obligations during the pandemic. Two recent prosecutions show how the Courts deal with non-compliance in the Education Sector.
High school governing body fined after worker falls from a roof
The Governing Body of Christ the King Catholic High School and Sixth Form Centre in Southport was fined after an employee fell more than three metres whilst carrying out routine work.
The worker was removing footballs from the sixth form block roof, when he lost his footing and fell, sustaining multiple fractures. The HSE investigation found that it was a regular occurrence to go onto the roof to remove footballs. But no barriers, edge protection or other protective measures had been installed to prevent a fall.
The Governing Body pleaded guilty at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court and were fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,851.50.
Council fined for teacher attack
Luton Borough Council has been fined after a teacher was violently attacked and left permanently disabled.
An Assistant headteacher was left significantly brain damaged after she was hit repeatedly over the head by a pupil at Putteridge High School. The teacher was called to deal with a disruptive pupil who was refusing to go to an isolation room. After the teacher cleared the classroom, the pupil launched a sustained assault using a mobile phone and inflicting life-changing injuries.
Luton Crown Court fined the council £104,000 and order it to pay costs of £60,000. The fine was reduced from £300,000 due to the Council’s lack of revenue as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The judge considered the financial losses of Covid-19 on the local authority; its guilty plea, and the impact the fine will have on public services.
The HSE investigation found that the school had no risk assessments to protect staff from violent pupils. The governors had decided against a violence and aggression safety policy, despite workplace guidance from the Department for Education in 2014. No effective consideration was given to the risk of injury or death posed by the pupils. The Council did not ensure that the school and its governors had competent safety managers to address this risk. The staff did not receive training on how to deal with violent and aggressive pupils.
The school has now converted to an academy, part of the Chiltern Learning Trust, and is no longer maintained by the local authority.
For education professionals, you may wonder when was the last time that our safety policies and risk assessments were reviewed. Do get in touch to discuss what you should do next.