Compliance inspections in schools: Are you prepared?

Jun. 10 2020

Schools have faced unprecedented disruption this year, with the majority of pupils unable to attend lessons for months due to COVID-19.

Working closely with those in the education sector, we understand the challenges being faced. That’s why Bureau Veritas is working with clients in the education sector to help them to meet their compliance obligations over the summer holiday period and reduce the risk of any further disruption.

What are your obligations?

All schools have a duty to keep students, employees and visitors safe. This includes effective management and reporting of any asbestos on-site, as well as routine inspections of fixed electrical installations:

  • Under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, if you own, occupy, manage or have a responsibility for property, you have a legal duty to assess and manage the risk from Asbestos Containing Material (ACM). Since February 2019, all schools must also inform the government how much asbestos they have in their buildings and how they are managing the risks.
  • Identifying, controlling and mitigating the risk from asbestos is critical. It can be present in any building built or refurbished before the year 2000 and when materials that contain asbestos are disturbed or damaged, fibres are released into the air. If these fibres are inhaled, they can cause mesothelioma, which is almost always fatal by the time it is diagnosed.
  • Under the Health & Safety at Work Act (1974) and Electricity at Work Regulations (1989), Duty Holders also have a responsibility to ensure that fixed electrical installations are safe. Schools are required to carry out routine checks on fixed electrical installations every six months (12 months for commercial organisations) and formal fixed electrical testing every five years. If there is a swimming pool on site, formal inspection and testing must be done every 12 months.

Non-compliance can put your school or organisation at risk of large fines, not to mention risking the health and safety of staff, pupils and visitors.

Asbestos is believed to be present in around 90% of school buildings and more than 200 teachers have died in the last ten years from the effects of being exposed to asbestos.

It is also important to highlight that appointing an electrical contractor to undertake electrical inspections does not dissolve your obligations as a Duty Holder.

Support from the experts

To support schools in meeting their obligations and reducing risk, Bureau Veritas offers a range of services, particularly when it comes to the key safety concerns of asbestos and electrical safety.

Michael Kenyon, Electrical Technical Lead for Bureau Veritas said:We have a long history of working with schools and colleges, which means we understand the regulations and how best to meet your requirements more than most. We’re also one of few compliance partners in the UK that can support both fixed electrical testing and asbestos management and reporting, without having to book multiple providers.

“More than that, because we know the sector so well, we understand the importance of minimising disruption. Booking your inspections now will ensure our engineers can visit over the summer holidays when schools are closed to pupils. After the disruption already faced in 2020, it’s more important than ever that statutory maintenance, which includes testing and inspection, is done without impacting lessons.”