Electrical safety in Education
Tim Beardsmore, Calbarrie’s Commercial Director, explains to Tomorrow’s FM the electrical statutory responsibilities for the Education sector and why school holidays are the ideal time to get testing done.
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) states that overall accountability for health and safety lies with the employer of the staff in a school. However day-to-day running of the school including responsibility for the health and safety of staff and pupils is normally delegated to the head teacher and school management team.
Statistics show that young people are more at risk of injury due to electrical faults than other age groups. Without the correct certification not only is the establishment putting their staff and pupils at risk but they may experience severe disruption to educational activities and their insurance company may not cover costs in the event of an insurance claim resulting from an electrical fault.
The law requires that testing of electrical systems should be carried out by a ‘competent person’ (someone who has the suitable training, skills and knowledge for the task to prevent injury to themselves and others).
Compliance testing carried out by a school caretaker, albeit with the best intentions, is not going to be as effective or efficient as a trained PAT engineer, and suitable training will be required which comes at a cost. A qualified, experienced engineer will conduct approximately 500 tests per day and complete a whole site efficiently whilst freeing up the caretaker to carry out other key responsibilities.
With cuts in Education budgets establishments need to be considering more cost-effective options. Outsourcing of testing to a specialist service provider is becoming common within Education and involves transferring risk to the provider who can reduce cost and increase efficiency and effectiveness that can out-perform a school or college trying to deliver other core services. An experienced provider will share the school’s responsibilities by holding the necessary insurances and online records of testing dates, and setting reminders for when inspection and testing is due. Few schools or colleges can provide these capabilities in-house at the same level.
Our figures show that testing during school holidays is at least 20% more productive than in term-time. Some schools like to benefit from fixed prices and schedule their testing up to five years ahead, with the same engineers returning year after year as they are familiar with the site. In this way the school remains compliant and confident that the environment is safe and they can demonstrate cost-efficiency whilst securing their budgets for the future.
Sensible and effective management of health and safety relies on the management team making sure risk is managed responsibly. Where you have staff health and safety representatives or a safety committee they can play a valuable role in contributing to the development of a positive health and safety culture.