Health and Safety Responsibilities for Schools

It’s without a doubt schools are vulnerably exposed to health and safety risks and hazards. From technology classes to playgrounds to education outside the classroom, the potential risks and hazards associated with the learning environment are endless.

Thus, every school must have a strong focus on health and safety. They must ensure they are meeting their legal obligation of keeping everyone involved with the school healthy and safe.

Following the reform of New Zealand’s health and safety system, the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 now sets out that everyone is responsible for health and safety in the workplace – this includes boards, principals, teachers, volunteers, parents and others.

But who holds the primary responsibility for health and safety in schools?

Person Conducting Business or Undertaking (PBCU)

Under the HSWA, the PCBU holds the primary duty of care to collectively provide a healthy and safe environment for everyone. In schools, this is the Board of Trustees. The BOT is a legal entity who have an overall responsibility to put good health and safety management in place. This may include:

  • Providing adequate resources, policies and processes to allow everyone to meet their health and safety duties
  • Providing for worker participation and engagement in health and safety matters
  • Providing the information, training, instruction or supervision necessary to protect workers and others from risks to their health and safety
Officers under the PBCU

Moreover, officers under the PBCU such as principals and elected board members, are individually responsible for proactively taking steps in ensuring the PCBU meets their health and safety obligations as leaders of the school. Officers must take reasonable steps to:

  • Gain an understanding of the operations of the organisation and the hazards and risks generally associated with those operations
  • Ensure the board has appropriate resources and processes to eliminate or minimise those hazards and risks
  • Ensure the board has appropriate processes for receiving information about incidents, hazards and risks, and for responding to that information

To read more on the health and safety responsibilities of schools, check out the Ministry of Education’s guide for school leaders here. The guide can also be used to undertake a comprehensive review of a school’s current health and safety management to see if it is in need of improvement.

How GOSH can help

Meeting health and safety responsibilities is unquestionably a challenging task for school leaders. With such a large scale to cover, it can be difficult to effectively manage and be on top of health and safety.

GOSH is an online system which provides schools with a robust and flexible way to report, track and monitor health and safety activity. It’s an easy and reliable online tool for schools as it offers:

  • Centralised monitoring and visibility of all health and safety activity.
  • Smart reporting over a large set of health and safety data.
  • Ability to instantly report incidents from your computer, intranet, mobile phone or tablet.
  • Simple links to accident, incident, hazard and risk registers.
  • Dashboard for school leaders, providing a snapshot of overall health and safety data

If you’re interested in getting to know more about how GOSH can benefit your school’s health and safety, contact Working Wise by filling out our online form or give us a call on 04 499 0710.

GOSH can assist school leaders in meeting their health and safety responsibilities, and ensure there is an appropriate process in place for addressing risks and hazards.


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