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How universities and schools are adapting to reduce accidents.

3 April 2019

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Universities and schools have a duty of care to keep their students and faculty members safe whilst they are on their premises. Accidents which commonly occur on school grounds or university campuses include: slips, trips and falls, injuries caused by defective equipment, sports injuries and food poisoning.

There are many different types of health and safety measures that schools and universities can implement to keep their students and staff members safe, helping to reduce the number of accidents which occur on their premises. True Solicitors investigates the best practices to implement to help reduce accident rates in schools and universities.

Slips, Trips and Falls

Accidents caused by slips, trips and falls happen frequently on educational premises. They usually occur due to:

  • Staff members and students carrying heavy or awkward shaped objects causing them to trip or fall.
  • Obstructions in the classroom or corridors in the form of bags and cables being left on the floor.
  • Wet surfaces due to cleaning or spillages.
  • Uneven surfaces and poor lighting.
  • Staff or students wearing inappropriate footwear.

Slip and trip accidents can be avoided by following procedures such as:

1.Following the correct cleaning procedures

Wet and dirty surfaces often lead to accidents. Best practices to follow to avoid slips, trips and falls caused by slippery surfaces include:

  • Cleaning up spillages promptly
  • Drying wet surfaces after cleaning
  • Displaying wet floor signage
  • Using the correct cleaning detergent
  • Using high quality entrance mats so that excess water and muck is removed from shoes as people enter the building.

2. Implement appropriate footwear policy

  • Ensuring that faculty and students wear closed toe shoes.
  • Supplying staff members who work in kitchens, science laboratories or technology departments with appropriate PPE footwear, such as steel capped boots.

3. Check flooring and lighting standards

  • Replacing loose or damaged floorboards.
  • Ensuring all areas with heavy foot traffic are well lit and that steps are clearly visible.
  • Removing any obstacles from flooring i.e. tidy up loose cables and ensure that bags are placed under desks with no trailing handles or straps.
  • Using anti-slip flooring in workshop areas.
  • Installing anti-slip and hi-vis treads on stairs
  • Carpeting main corridors

Defective Equipment

Minimise the likelihood of accidents happening through defective equipment by carrying out regular checks and maintenance on classroom equipment such as bunsen burners, machine tools, materials and chemicals; and also sports equipment used in physical education. It is also necessary to carry out regular checks on the safety of desks, chairs and doors to avoid accidents caused by trapped fingers.

Sports Injuries

Pupils can obtain injuries whilst engaging in sports. Injuries are more likely to occur in activities which use equipment such as tennis, cricket and in athletics. In order to reduce the amount of accidents, schools and universities must ensure that all equipment is properly maintained and up to standard, along with training staff and students to use equipment safely.

Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is technically not an accident, but cases are fairly common in schools and colleges. In order to avoid and reduce the number of food poisoning incidents, canteens and kitchens must follow strict food preparation guidelines. This includes maintaining a clean kitchen environment, ensuring the correct refrigeration and use of preparation equipment such as knifes and chopping boards to avoid cross-contamination.


Almost all pre- 1980s buildings are historically known to contain asbestos – with schools and university buildings being no exception. Prolonged exposure to asbestos can lead to respiratory illnesses such as asbestosis and mesothelioma. It is important to note which rooms in the school still contain asbestos, so that everyone is made aware not to attach anything to the walls and ceilings that may disturb the asbestos.

Active Risk Assessments

Schools and universities should carry out regular active risk assessments in order to help reduce the number of accidents on their premises. Active risk assessment are used to:

  • Identify hazards
  • Identify who and how people may be harmed
  • Assess the level of risk
  • Keep an accurate, detailed recording of all findings, with action points for improvement.
  • Carry out regular reviews of health and safety assessments throughout each term.

The HSE have a handy, free, downloadable health and safety classroom checklist that covers a list of potential hazards.

If you have suffered due to an accident on school or university premises that was not your fault, get in touch with TRUE Solicitors personal injury experts today. We offer you a free, initial no obligation assessment of your case. We fight to get our clients maximum compensation in the shortest amount of time.

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