Managing health and safety in schools.

Guidance on managing health and safety in school including risk assessments, security and personal safety.

Management system

Ensuring health and safety in schools is an essential part of any school manager's responsibility and to do this successfully, an effective health and safety management system needs to be in place.

One of the key elements of health and safety management is monitoring the effectiveness of the safety policy, which can be achieved by the use of a checklist. The results from such a checklist will be vital in analysing strengths and weaknesses within the organisation and for future inspection and reporting to the Board of Governors.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (NI) 2000 require that suitable and sufficient assessments of the risk arising out of work are carried out.

Risk assessments

Put simply, a risk assessment is finding out what could cause harm to people and deciding if you have done enough or need to do more to protect them.

Health and safety risk assessment

The health and safety risk assessment is currently under review.

If you require any further information please contact Building Branch of the Department of Education.

Security risk assessment

Minor Works Applications relating to any aspect of security needs at an educational establishment requires a security survey and risk assessment to be completed and submitted to the Department of Education - Building Branch.

A security survey gives a rounded picture of the risks that a school faces and the security measures in existence. Without this information it is difficult to assess

  • the type and scale of risk
  • any trends or patterns in the incidents occurring at the school
  • the selection of security measures
  • the efficiency of the chosen security measure

A security risk assessment form is available on the following page:

Security and personal safety

This information has been produced by the Health and Safety Advisers of the Northern Ireland Education and Library Boards and Council for Catholic Maintained Schools in association with the Department of Education (DE).

The regulations are designed to provide a framework of practical advice and guidance for those who have a statutory responsibility for schools and other premises used by young people.

This information may be used so that matters relating to the security and overall safety management of such places may be addressed in a systematic and logical manner.


Schools which were built before the year 2000 may have asbestos containing materials (ACMs) present. Current government policy is that so long as the asbestos is in good condition and is unlikely to be disturbed, it is better to be managed for the remaining life of the school rather than to disturb it.

Surveys of schools

All schools were surveyed for ACMs during 2003/2004 in accordance with the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations (NI) 2003. Following the surveys, any asbestos that was deemed to pose a high risk was removed by a licensed company. Where it was not considered necessary to remove the asbestos immediately, the former Education and Library Boards drew up plans for managing the asbestos safely in the schools that they own, or for which they have a maintenance responsibility. The Voluntary Grammar Schools and Grant Maintained Integrated Schools are required to have similar plans to establish clear lines of responsibility for the management and control of any residual asbestos in their schools.

Asbestos management plans

These up-to-date and site specific asbestos management plans (AMP) should contain:

  • asbestos survey/register - highlights where the ACMs have been found, the condition of the ACMs and recommended actions
  • action plan - setting out how the school intends to deal with the asbestos
  • monitoring arrangements - if ACMs are left in place then it must be monitored at regular internals to check that it is still in good condition. The AMP should record the frequency of the monitoring
  • communications plan - if a school has ACMs, then this must be communicated to all people who may disturb it, including maintenance contractors, cleaners, teachers 

Training in managing asbestos

The Education Authority provides asbestos management training to schools which fall within their duty of care. Furthermore, the Health and Safety Executive of Northern Ireland (HSENI) website provides a comprehensive range of information and a step by step guide to managing asbestos.

DE, in collaboration with the HSENI, will continue to ensure that schools and school authorities are awayre of the risks surrounding asbestos containing materials and their obligation to comply with all current legislation and guidance.


The purpose of this circular is to advise the Education Authority (EA) and other school authorities of the requirements necessary to ensure compliance with current legislation.

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