Advice for second-level teachers in Ireland.
Health, Safety and Welfare at Work Act - Section 25 (2), (3)
A Safety Representative may inspect the whole or any part of the place of work after giving reasonable notice to the employer or immediately, in the event of an accident, dangerous occurrence or imminent danger or risk to the safety, health and welfare of any person. The Employer and the Safety Representative shall, having regard to the nature and extent of the hazards in the place of work, agree the frequency or schedule of inspections which may be carried out, which agreement shall not be unreasonably withheld by the employer.
A comprehensive inspection of the school should be carried out by the Safety Representative at least once a year. Further inspections or partial inspections should be carried out as deemed appropriate by the Safety Representative. The comprehensive inspection of the whole school may be conducted on one day or it could be done in stages over a number of days. It is estimated that the full inspection could take approximately two hours to complete.
There should be full co-operation between the Safety Representative and the School Principal on the issue of a school inspections. The Principal should be consulted on the timing of the inspection. It may be deemed helpful and in the interests of good health and safety practice if the Safety Representative and Principal together inspected the school. If necessary, the Safety Representative is entitled to request ‘time off’ work in order to conduct an inspection.
The Health and Safety Inspections checklist is not exhaustive. The Safety Representative should amend and adapt the checklist to suit the circumstances of his/her own school. In adapting the checklist, it is recommended that the Safety Representative consults with the teachers who have specific expertise, e.g. science teachers, P.E. teachers, home economics teachers, art teachers, etc.
As the Safety Representative may well not have expertise in examining specialist rooms, e.g. science laboratories, it is appropriate for the Safety Representative to consult with the specialist teachers in order to identify any faults or failings in the specialist rooms and in adapting the inspection checklist.
Following an inspection, the Safety Representative should retain copies of the completed checklist and any other notes he/she may have taken. If matters of concern have been identified, these should be listed and given to the School Principal so that they can be addressed. The Act states that every employer shall consider any representations made by the Safety Representative on matters of health, safety and welfare of employees.
Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to the questions we get asked the most here.
Frequently Asked Questions on Safety, Health and Welfare in Schools
What are the employer’s duties with regard to staff welfare? According to section 8.1 of the 2005 Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, employers have a legal duty to their staff to “ensure, so far as it is reasonably practicable, the... Read more
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