Health and safety resources launched

Issue: Volume 96, Number 4

Posted: 13 March 2017
Reference #: 1H9d6y

A new set of resources, including several guides and a wellbeing web page, will help schools and early childhood education services meet their health and safety obligations.

A new set of resources has been launched to support schools and early childhood education services meet their health and safety requirements. These resources complement the existing Health and Safety Practical Guide for Boards of Trustees and School Leaders as well as the Health and Safety system the Ministry of Education launched to support the sector with the changes in legislation.

The resources include several new health and safety guides, a new wellbeing web page and were developed in response to requests from the sector. The Schools Health and Safety Sector Reference Group have endorsed these resources in December 2016.

The new resources are:

  • What events need to be notified in the education sector?
  • Students on work experience: a health and safety guide for schools and employers.
  • Health and safety guidance for school sport.
  • Guidance on the Code of Practice for school exempt laboratories.
  • Wellbeing web page.

Feedback from the sector has been positive.

What events need to be notified in the sector?

Stemming from a workshop held in September last year that brought together the Schools Health and Safety Sector Reference Group and 25 key players in the sporting sector, the resource reflects the need for support for those working in this area.

WorkSafe New Zealand must be notified when certain work-related events (notifiable events) occur. Notifiable events include fatalities, serious injuries and illnesses, and unplanned or uncontrolled workplace incidents that could put people at risk of serious injury or illness.

Notifiable events include those that relate to children and not just teaching staff in the education setting, as schools/ECEs are workplaces.

This guide draws on information published by WorkSafe New Zealand and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. To keep fully informed about your health and safety obligations, visit WorkSafe’s website(external link)

Students on work experience: a health and safety guide for schools and employers

This resource has been created for both schools and employers to support them when students go on work experience outside of a formal Gateway programme, and contains information on how to prepare students for work experience in terms of health and safety.

When students are on work experience, the primary responsibility for health and safety matters rests with the management of the host workplace.

Students can enter the workplace through many means while at school. This can be through a Gateway programme, school-organised work experience, structured workplace learning or part-time/casual paid employment arrangement that is part of a learning programme.

This guide should be read in conjunction with the Health and Safety Practical Guide for Boards of Trustees and School Leaders. We suggest you also read the 2016 Gateway Handbook published by the Tertiary Education Commission which contains information on how to plan student work placements through a Gateway programme.

This guide is intended as a supplementary resource that will support schools and employers to develop a clear understanding of what the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) means for students on work experience and host employers.

Find more information on the Ministry Of Education website(external link) 

Health and safety guidance for school sport

Some degree of physical risk is inherent in most sport – many sports involve high impact collisions, direction changes that stress muscles and bones, as well as risks caused by environmental factors such as the weather.

When people engage in sport they accept that there is risk involved, and in school sport, a range of providers are typically involved – from facility operators and owners, to transport providers, host schools and event organisers.

Everyone involved is responsible for ensuring the risks they can reasonably be held accountable for are well managed, minimised or eliminated. These risks could arise from a number of causes, from poor event planning and management to poorly maintained venues and equipment.

Risk in sport also has the possibility to spill over from the playing arena to the spectator area, and therefore steps must be taken to ensure the health and safety of spectators, paid and volunteer staff, and the public.

Together with SportNZ, regional sports directors and the New Zealand Secondary School Sports Council, the Ministry of Education has created a specific resource for sports.

Stemming from a workshop held in September last year that brought together the Sector Reference Group and 25 key players in the sporting sector, the resource reflects the need for support for those working in this area.

The resulting draft guide was distributed at the North Island Sports Coordinators Conference and received positive feedback. This document is intended to provide guidance to boards of trustees, principals and sports coordinators, to help them identify and manage the risks involved in school sport.

Strahan McIntosh is a secondary school sports advisor based in Palmerston North.

Employed by Sport Manawatu, Strahan works closely with 19 secondary schools in the region to help provide quality sporting experiences for their students.

He says the new guide is enabling better collaboration between those working with young sportspeople.

“The guide helps school sports providers like us with the new legislation around the Health and Safety Act,” he says. “It’s also increasingly being used to help with the organisation of national secondary sports events, too.”

Current Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC) guidelines see schools fill out documents identifying and communicating the risks involved with sport or other activities that take place outside the classroom, and explaining what will be done to mitigate these risks.

Risk management documents are completed by the relevant providers, event organisers and/or venue managers.

Even though the new guidelines might seem like more work, Strahan says they actually streamline the process and ensure that everyone meets their responsibilities.

“Schools understand what the provider is responsible for, and therefore they also understand their own responsibilities. It makes it easier to keep the communication channels open.”

He believes the guidelines help everyone to play their part in keeping students safe.

“We’re getting better in our region at collaborating to ensure everyone’s health and safety. If everyone’s clear on where they fit in, it’s such a positive for everyone involved."

“It’s also a great way to get the information from the people who know best. For instance, the sporting code will know what risks are inherent in their sport – and what can be reasonably done to minimise those risks – and similarly, the other parties will be able to communicate their known risks.”

As an example of the guidelines in action, Strahan points to last year’s secondary school Top 1st XV rugby championship event.

“Before the event took place, we collaborated with the Manawatu Rugby Union, and asked about the risks in rugby generally, we talked to the rugby institute about their venue risks,
and we also talked to Sky TV, who we knew would be there filming the event – how much space did they need, and what equipment would be there, etc."

“We also learned about spinal cord injuries from the rugby union, so we knew about the risks there. That went onto an overall safety action plan that we created, and it was signed off by the chairperson of the NZ Secondary School Rugby board, and also by Sky TV and other parties involved."

“We tried our best to make it comprehensive. The signed-off plan went to all the schools involved in the tournament, and also to the volunteers we had helping us with the event."

“It was a massive tournament – huge crowds, and nearly 200 students playing rugby. There was a lot of inherent risk but we did everything we could to minimise the dangers.”

Strahan notes that new tournaments are being planned every week, so it’s good to have a comprehensive risk management policy in place for all schools to use.

Guidance on the code of practice for school exempt laboratories

New Zealand Association of Science Educators (NZASE) has worked with the Ministry to create this guide to support science educators.

NZASE has produced a video with more information about the code of practice, which can be viewed on Youtube(external link) 

Wellbeing for staff

Another resource brings together useful information relating to teacher and staff wellbeing.

The Wellbeing for staff webpage draws on resources from the State Services Commission, Employment NZ, ACC, the Mental Health Foundation, teacher unions and other groups.

Eight key wellbeing areas were identified by the Sector Reference Group and the resources, sourced from a range of organisations, reflect these key areas:

  • General health and wellbeing resources.
  • Healthy living and lifestyle.
  • Physical wellbeing.
  • Stress management.
  • Work-life balancing and managing workload.
  • Technology use.
  • Worker wellness and mental health.
  • Workplace bullying.

You can find the new wellbeing webpage on the Ministry Of Education website(external link) 

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 8:16 pm, 13 March 2017

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