Asbestos safety on HSE’s Health and Safety checklist for classrooms

Health and safety in a school is about taking a sensible and proportionate approach to ensure that the premises provide a healthy and safe place for all who use them, including the school workforce, visitors and pupils.

As children and staff head back to school for a new term, the HSE has produced a checklist showing the real risks, including that of asbestos.

This checklist will help users quickly identify any areas of concern or risks to those using or working in the classroom. Using it is not mandatory – but doing so will give users and employers confidence that sensible precautions are in place.

Who is the HSE checklist for?

The checklist provides teaching and support staff with a list of health and safety issues to consider in an ordinary classroom setting in any school. It can be used by class teachers, teaching assistants, premises staff or department heads – those running the school can decide how best to use the checklist in their school.

How should it be used?

The checklist is designed to save staff time – simplifying many of the checks and paperwork approaches that can be seen as ‘red tape’ when applied to individual classrooms. It could be used each term, or if circumstances change significantly, to highlight health and safety issues that need to be addressed. However, all school staff should bring serious incidents to the attention of their employer straight away.

It has been designed to complement the steps the employer takes across the school to manage risks from topics such as fire, legionella, asbestos, manual handling or violence etc. School-wide approaches to assessing and managing real risks should be in place so they do not need to be reassessed in an ordinary classroom.

What doesn’t it cover?

This checklist doesn’t cover drama and sports facilities or specialist classrooms, including laboratories, art, IT, design and technology facilities.

In these specific environments, where more specialist equipment and/or substances are in use, risk assessment and management appropriate to the activities should be in place.

The checklist should take around 20 minutes to complete. You can download it here.