When you are in charge of a classroom you need to take care of the environment the pupils are learning in.
Using the HSE.gov.uk classroom checklist, we look in more detail what you should bear in mind before the start of class.
Moving around the Classroom
Moving around the classroom is an important part of teaching, getting round to each pupil to see how they are getting on with work, or simply handing out textbooks or tests.
You should be looking at the following;
Is the flooring in the classroom in good condition?
This covers a wide range of issues which could cause a slip, trip or fall. Things to check for are:
- Uneven floor surfaces
- Changes in levels
- Unsuitable floor coverings (rugs, mats etc)
If you say yes to any of the above, then these need to reported and brought to the attention to whoever is in charge of health and safety at the school.
Are gangways between desks in the classroom clear?
It is important that any gangways between desks are kept clear, this includes school furniture, coats and bags that may impede an escape route in case of an emergency.
If there is not adequate storage for bags and coats, again this is something that will need to be addressed.
Are there any trailing cables or leads in the classroom?
One of the main culprits of causing trips and falls are cables or leads that are not properly laid or stored in the classroom.
A good way of doing this is to put lightweight rubber mats over the top of the wires or to use cable covers, greatly reducing the risk of any accidents which may occur.
Are there procedures in place to deal with spillages or accidents in the classroom?
Having an emergency spill kit and first aid kit close to hand is ideal, this means you can quickly address any spillages or deal with any accidents or injuries which could be sustained.
Is there adequate lighting in the classroom?
There are different types of lighting required for schools, however for classrooms it will be General lighting that is required; this is for classrooms, ICT and seminar rooms and small groups or interview rooms.
You can find the full table on suitable lighting for classrooms
on the education.gov.uk website.
Working at Height in the Classroom
You or students may be required to work at height at some point, in this event you will need to make sure of the following:
Access to a kick-stool or step ladder in the classroom when necessary?
Most classrooms have a storage cupboard, usually for text books etc, this is an ideal place to keep the kick-stool or step ladder for when you need it, make sure that the pupils know that it is there in case they need it and ask you for permission to use.
Window openers in the classroom
As most schools have high windows which can be difficult to open, it is imperative to make sure that you have the correct tool to open any high windows this prevents unnecessary climbing or awkward positions which could lead to accidents or injuries.
Furniture and Fixings in the Classroom
Is furniture in good repair?
And suitable for the user
Make sure that any permanent fixtures are securely fastened and in good condition, this applies to shelves, cupboards and display boards such as white boards or chalk boards.
If any of them appear to be coming loose, again this needs to be reported.
Is portable equipment stable?
One of the biggest memories people have from school is the tv on the trolley.
You need to ensure that the trolley is stable and cannot slip or be pushed off easily and has the adequate weight capacity.
Radiators in the classroom
This one may seem a bit odd, however young people can be susceptible to burns from overly hot radiators so do make sure that there are coverings on the radiators or that people are sat far enough away that they will not accidentally touch the radiators during class.
Manual Handling in the Classroom
There shouldn’t be too much manual handling in the schools, and if there is any needed usually the janitors or handymen will be able to assist with this.
However in the event that manual handling is needed, make sure that trolleys are supplied to aid with the job.
Computers and Electrical Equipment in the Classroom
When using computers as part of your job its important that a DSE assessment has been completed, for ICT classrooms, making sure that appropriate aids are available to pupils is key, this includes wrist wrests or alternative mice.
Good practice when using computers
It’s important that the pupils understand good practice when using the computers, this can include:
- Shutting down, locking and logging off correctly
- Not downloading anything off the internet without strict permission
- Not giving out personal details or information
- Being wary of scams
Are switches and sockets in good repair?
When using any electrical equipment it is very important to make sure that before anything is plugged that the sockets and switches are in good repair, if anything looks loose or broken DO NOT use them, seal them off and report them immediately so they can be fixed and signed off before use.
Any damaged or broken electrical equipment is taken out of service?
If you have any equipment which is damaged or broken these should be removed and taken out of service, otherwise these can cause fire and electric shocks which can cause injury or damage to the user or environment.
These should be reported and either fixed or replaced.
While every school will practice the fire drill it is important to make sure that pupils know the correct exit route and they are clearly displayed.
Do you and the pupils know the Evacuation procedures and Drills?
As mentioned previously the schools will have fire drill practice at the very least once a year, this is to make sure that everyone knows the correct and safest route out of the school and the correct assembly points in case of fire or emergency.
Is there firefighting equipment in the classroom?
There should be fire extinguishers near or in each classroom to allow the chance to quell any fire before it gets out of hand, there are different extinguishers for different types of fire and these should be clearly explained and signposted to avoid confusion.
Ventilation and Heating in the Classroom
A few things to bear in mind whilst working in the classroom to maintain everyone’s comfort throughout the class.
- Does the classroom have natural ventilation?
- Can a reasonable and comfortable temperature be maintained during use of the classroom?
- Are there measures in place to protect pupils and yourself from the glare or heat from the sun, i.e blinds or curtains.
This is by no means everything that needs to be covered in classroom safety, however we hope that it gives you an idea of what you should be looking for when working in the classroom and looking after the welfare of you and your pupils.