What does a risk assessment in school involve?
A risk assessment in schools is a method of systematically identifying and evaluating all hazards to which students, teachers, administrators, and other employees are exposed in the course of their work. The aim is to describe hazards in learning and working and to counteract them preventively, i.e. before health problems or accidents occur, with suitable measures. Only those who really know the hazards at school can cost-effectively use the right means to improve the protection and health of students and employees.
Responsible for risk assessment in schools are the school boards for the external and the school management for the internal school area. They must carry out risk assessments at regular intervals, document them and check their effectiveness. Risk assessments are the basis for constant improvement of safety and health protection in the school.
This article discusses:
1. 7 steps to risk assessment in a school
2. A mobile app solution for school risk assessment
7 steps of a risk assessment in schools
For better health and safety in schools, a risk assessment should be conducted regularly to identify and minimize the likelihood of hazards. A basic hazard assessment in schools consists of the following 7 steps:
- Define and delineate work areas
Depending on the type of school and school size, it makes sense to divide the school into manageable work areas. In this way, the workplace risk assessment can be organized in a meaningful way, distributed among several people, and conducted within a manageable time frame. Often, the work areas are divided according to subjects and the corresponding activities.
- Identify hazards and stresses
Basically, all hazards and stresses that can lead to health complaints or accidents must be systematically identified. Potential hazards at schools can arise, for example, from the design and equipment of workplaces and workstations, the nature, selection and use of work equipment, the organization of work processes and working hours, as well as from mechanical, physical, chemical, biological stresses and inadequate instruction and qualification of employees.
The hazards and stresses can be identified through plant inspections and visits as well as discussions with employees. However, such information is also available, for example, in the form of accident reports and statistics, downtimes, hazardous substance registers and safety data sheets, as well as operating instructions for plant and machinery.
- Make an assessment
The assessment of hazards and stresses is primarily a matter of checking and evaluating whether the existing hazard potentials are so low that the residual risk is acceptable, or whether there is a need for action. The regulations for occupational health and safety provide an important benchmark for this. If there are no corresponding hazard or stress catalogs, action aids or checklists for a hazard or stress, the school management must independently carry out a risk assessment.
- Determine measures
By determining appropriate measures, risks should be reduced, minimized or eliminated. Suitable measures can be technical, organizational or personal. Protective measures shall be implemented in the following order and priority:
- Avoidance/elimination of sources of danger or potential for exposure (e.g. search for substitute substances in the case of hazardous substances)
- Technical protective measures (e.g. shielding/encapsulation of hazardous points)
- Organizational protective measures (e.g. access restrictions)
- Person-related protective measures (e.g., hearing protection, protective goggles)
- Behavioral protective measures (e.g., instructions, training)
- Implement measures
After the measures and protection goals have been defined, it must be determined by those responsible which employee*in or which institution, authority, company or person has to implement or initiate the respective measures. The responsibility, the exact tasks and the time frame should be fixed as concretely as possible and in writing.
- Test effectiveness
The occupational health and safety of all employees can only be guaranteed if the effectiveness of the protective measures implemented is checked. To do this, it must first be ensured that the measures were carried out on time and properly. Then it can be checked whether they are actually effective, i.e. whether the protective effect and protective objective have been achieved. For the effectiveness check, regular site inspections, site inspections and discussions with employees are carried out.
The risk assessment in a school must be documented. The documentation must include:
- the result of the risk assessment
- the measures specified
- the result of the effectiveness test
The documentation serves, on the one hand, as evidence for the school supervisory authorities and, on the other hand, as an effective tool for in-house occupational health and safety. It also provides the basis for the work of school managers, occupational safety specialists, company doctors, safety officers teachers, the instruction and information of employees, the advice of higher authorities and the accident insurance carrier.
An app & software for risk assessment in school
Conducting paper-based risk assessments in schools can be time-consuming and inefficient, rather than helpful in implementing meaningful interventions. It is cumbersome for leaders to use this process to systematically collect data and review all records, as well as update them regularly.
Using a mobile app and desktop software like Lumiform to manage school risk assessments streamlines implementation and makes the process more reliable. Everything can be controlled and stored centrally through one system, and access is available from anywhere. Lumiform enables school boards and principals to: