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HSE urges school leaders not to wrap kids in cotton wool

Date:
3 September 2014

As the new school year begins, HSE is reminding school leaders to strike the right balance in their approach to health and safety risks.

Bans on children wearing frilly socks, hot drinks on school trips and supposed “dangerous footballs” from the playground, are just some of the cases HSE’s Mythbusters Challenge panel has ruled on, where schools have made over zealous and disproportionate decisions in the name of ‘health and safety’ when it comes to dealing with risks to children.

HSE has published new web-based guidance designed to support school leaders to strike the right balance and encourage them to avoid being risk averse. Whilst children need to be kept safe, they also should be able to learn through experience and play conkers without wearing goggles!

Geoff Cox, Head of HSE’s Public Services Sector said:

“Our myth busting shows that schools sometimes go over the top in their efforts to get health and safety right – but in some cases they don’t go far enough.

“We want to encourage school managers to use this guidance to find their own Goldilocks approach – not too much, not too little, but just the right balance. Real risks need to be managed, but that doesn’t mean wrapping children in cotton wool.”

HSE’s Public Services Sector consulted with local government and education stakeholders, the teaching unions and schools health and safety managers to develop the guidance.

For more on common health and safety myths in schools and striking the right balance see:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/services/education/sensible-leadership/common.htm

Notes to editors

1.  The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk

2. The sensible risk web-pages are available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/services/education/sensible-leadership/index.htm

3. You can contact the Mythbusters challenge panel at:  http://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/myth-busting.htm

4. School managers can keep in touch on health and safety in schools by subscribing to HSE’s education e-bulletin at:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/services/education/subscribe.htm

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