Page last updated 10 January 2018

Health and safety considerations on becoming an academy

When a school becomes an academy, the Governing Body or Trustees, as the employer, will become legally responsible for health and safety and the school will no longer automatically receive the Health, Safety and Wellbeing service that it was entitled to as a maintained school.

Competent person

One of the first things to consider is appointing a Competent Person under the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations to advise you.

At present the LGSS Health, Safety and Wellbeing team automatically fulfil this role for local authority schools, providing policies, guidance, advice on regulatory changes, accident reporting to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), liaison with enforcement officers, etc.

As an academy or Trust you have the following options:

  1. Take out a Service Level Agreement to buy back the service from the council
  2. Service to be delivered in-house by an appropriately trained employee
  3. Service to be delivered externally by another specialist service provider

Option 1: Using the council’s Health, Safety and Wellbeing Service Level Agreement

The LGSS Health, Safety and Wellbeing team offers a cost effective service level agreement (SLA) which will enable us to assist you in meeting your health and safety obligations.

Please note that the regional office of the HSE have informed us that they intend to contact academies to request details of their “Competent Person”.   With an SLA in place, we will formally notify them that the County Health and Safety Manager is acting as that person for you under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.

Option 2: Using your own employee as the Competent Person

If you intend to provide this service in-house, you will need to consider who will carry out this role, what their training requirements are and their ongoing professional needs. It is important to understand that the role of the Competent Person is materially different from that of the Health and Safety Co-ordinator, as it carries specific responsibilities and liabilities. However, with the appropriate training you may feel that this is the best option for you.

It is for you as the employer to determine the level of training required depending on your risks.   For example, a complex secondary school with specialist curriculum activities may require a higher level of training than a small primary school.   In the LGSS Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team, we require our Health, Safety and Wellbeing Advisers to have degree-level specialist health and safety training (generally the NEBOSH Diploma) which takes two years to complete.   In addition, there is two further years CPD to become a Chartered Health and Safety Specialist (CMIOSH).

Reporting of accidents

You will need to report your accidents directly to the HSE on an F2508 so you need to set this system up and make sure that you maintain all current and previous records for any subsequent civil claims as we will only retain very limited information once you are removed from our computer system.

Using your own ‘Competent Person’ in other schools

Some groups of schools may already share a School Health and Safety Co-ordinator. If this person then becomes the ‘Competent Person’ and you provide that service to other establishments not in your employment, your organisation is in effect acting as a health and safety consultant to other employers and therefore will require all the relevant professional indemnity and public liability insurance (note: as this is a specialist service you will need to specify this to your insurers).

As the organisation providing this service, you will then take on all the relevant responsibilities and liabilities and in the event that either incorrect advice is given or appropriate advice not given and someone is injured as a result, your academy may face legal action, in addition to any taken at the other school.

Option 3: Selecting external Competent Advice

Since early 2011, consultants that meet the required professional qualification can be found on the Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register.

In considering the suitability of any provider, make sure you find out their experience in delivering curriculum and non-curriculum safety advice and dealing with issues such as building and premises safety and security, educational visits, complex moving and handling for employees and pupils with physical or sensory needs, as well as the standard employee health & safety issues.

Also check that their emergency response arrangements meet your needs and ask them about the support they provide during any civil claims, as well as undertaking all the routine liaison work with enforcement officers.

Contact us

If you wish to discuss any specific issues relating to this information, please contact the Health, Safety and Wellbeing team as follows:

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