The employer or, in the case of independent schools, the proprietor, is accountable for the health and safety of school staff and pupils.
The day-to-day running of the school is usually delegated to the headteacher and the school management team. In most cases, they are responsible for ensuring that risks are managed effectively.
Incident reporting in schools (accidents, diseases and dangerous occurrences) Incidents to pupils and other people who are not at work
- Injuries to pupils and visitors who are involved in an accident at school or on an activity organised by the school are only reportable under RIDDOR if the accident results in:
- the death of the person, and arose out of or in connection with a work activity;
- an injury that arose out of or in connection with a work activity and the person is taken directly from the scene of the accident to hospital for treatment (examinations and diagnostic tests do not constitute treatment)
- If a pupil injured in an incident remains at school, is taken home or is simply absent from school for a number of days, the incident is not reportable.
- How do I decide whether an accident to a pupil 'arises out of or is in connection with work'? The responsible person at the school should consider whether the incident was caused by:
- a failure in the way a work activity was organised (eg inadequate supervision of a field trip);
- the way equipment or substances were used (eg lifts, machinery, experiments etc);
- the condition of the premises (eg poorly maintained or slippery floors).
- So, if a pupil is taken to hospital after breaking an arm during an ICT class, following a fall over a trailing cable, the incident would be reportable.
- If a pupil is taken to hospital because of a medical condition (eg an asthma attack or epileptic seizure) this would not be reportable, as it did not result from the work activity.
- This means that many of the common incidents that cause injuries to pupils at school tend not to be reportable under RIDDOR, as they do not arise directly from the way the school undertakes a work activity.
- Remember, in all these cases, you only need to consider reporting where an accident results in a pupil's death or they are taken directly from the scene of the accident to hospital for treatment. There is no need to report incidents where people are taken to hospital purely as a precaution, when no injury is apparent.
What about accidents to pupils during sports activities?
- Not all sports injuries to pupils are reportable under RIDDOR, as organised sports activities can lead to sports injuries that are not connected with how schools manage the risks from the activity.
- The essential test is whether the accident was caused by the condition, design or maintenance of the premises or equipment, or because of inadequate arrangements for supervision of an activity. If an accident that results in an injury arises because of the normal rough and tumble of a game, the accident and resulting injury would not be reportable.
- Examples of reportable incidents include where:
- the condition of the premises or sports equipment was a factor in the incident, eg where a pupil slips and fractures an arm because a member of staff had polished the sports hall floor and left it too slippery for sports;
- there was inadequate supervision to prevent an incident, or failings in the organisation and management of an event.
What about accidents to pupils in a playground?
- Most playground accidents due to collisions, slips, trips and falls are not normally reportable. Incidents are only reportable where the injury results in a pupil either being killed or taken directly to a hospital for treatment. Either is only reportable if they were caused by an accident that happened from or in connection with a work activity. This includes incidents arising because:
- the condition of the premises or equipment was poor, eg badly maintained play equipment;
- the school had not provided adequate supervision, eg where particular risks were identified, but no action was taken to provide suitable supervision.
- Violence between pupils is a school discipline matter and not reportable under RIDDOR, as it does not arise out of or in connection with a work activity. Other scenarios Injuries to pupils while travelling on a school bus If another vehicle strikes the school bus while pupils are getting on or off and pupils are injured and taken to hospital, this is normally reportable under RIDDOR.
- However, you do not have to report deaths and injuries resulting from a road traffic accident involving a school vehicle travelling on the public highway under RIDDOR. These are classed as road traffic incidents and are investigated by the police.
Incidents involving pupils on overseas trips
- RIDDOR only applies to activities which take place in Great Britain. So, any incident overseas is not reportable to HSE.
Incidents to pupils on work experience placements
- If pupils are on a training scheme or work placement, they are deemed to be employees for the period of the placement. In these circumstances, the employer, as the responsible person, should report a death, injury or disease to a pupil, which arises out of or in connection with work. This means the wider range of reporting categories for employees is applicable.
Reporting requirements of other regulators
- There may be other reporting requirements placed on schools by other regulators in the education sector. The requirements of these other regulators are separate to, and distinct from, the legal duty to report incidents under RIDDOR
Guidance for promotion of safety in education and play
- Useful links:
- 'Safe Practice: in Physical Education, School Sport and Physical Activity' is published every four years, this resource is the essential reference and developmental tool that offers up-to-date advice across PESSPA, to help teachers, coaches and school governors protect their students and themselves from potential risks across both the curriculum and extra-curricular activities. See link below:
- Safe Practice: in Physical Education, School Sport and Physical Activity - Association for Physical Education - Association For Physical Education | P.E. (afpe.org.uk)