Renovations, refurbishments and extensions are often required for schools, with a growing population leaving schools short of space and under demand to provide more places.

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Many establishments are taking the opportunity to commission bespoke education buildings to provide more space and a modern, flexible environment tailored to the needs of the client.

Who is responsible?

When it comes to health and safety, the law is clear: the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, Section 3, states that the client (the school) is responsible for the safety of those not in direct employment but exposed to the site. This means the school has overall responsibility for the safety of pupils, staff and the contractors working on the site.

In certain cases, The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 provide further guidance on the responsibilities of the client.

Should an incident occur, the school must demonstrate that all risks were assessed and mitigated as far as reasonably practicable.

Proof of attentiveness

Under an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive, the officer will look for the following proof that the school acted correctly:

– A full specification of works to be undertaken must be provided during the quotation process. Should the school not carry the necessary knowledge in house, an external contractor should be sought to undertake a survey of the site and identify potential hazards. Some suppliers of bespoke education buildings, such as http://www.educationspaces.co.uk/, can offer a full service, including surveys and expert knowledge of legislation, to ensure all ground is covered.

– Any contractor working on site should be given a full briefing outlining the work to be undertaken and the potential for asbestos, gas, water and electrical isolations. A set of health and safety requirements should be made available, outlining working practices to be adhered to.

– The main contractor may monitor the work practices of subcontractors, ensuring adhesion to health and safety requirements; however, the school may also use in-house health and safety officials to monitor work.

– A record of assessments and monitoring should be kept for traceability.

Safeguarding of children on site

It is recommended that a code of conduct is issued for contractors on site, which should ensure that contractors cannot come into contact with children unsupervised. Should this not be possible, DB