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Workplace health and safety in schools:
A practical guide for school leaders
Department of Justice and Attorney-General
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland
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Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, Department of J ustice and Attorney-General
Workplace health and safety in schools: A practical guide for school leaders
PN10924 Version 3 Last updated J une 2011

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Table of contents

Introduction......................................................................................................................................2
Developing a systematic approach to workplace health and safety.................................................4
Managing the main risks in schools...............................................................................................12
Manual tasks injuries.....................................................................................................................13
Psychological injuries and illnesses...............................................................................................15
Slips, trips and falls injuries...........................................................................................................18
Other common hazards and risks...................................................................................................20
Getting more information...............................................................................................................23
Sample record of hazard inspection and risk control .....................................................................27


























Acknowledgements:
This guide is based on the WorkSafe Victoria publication, OHS in schools - A practical guide for
school leaders (May 2008).

The State of Queensland (Department of Justice and Attorney-General) 2011
Copyright protects this document. The State of Queensland has no objection to this material being reproduced, but asserts its right to be recognised as
author of the original material and the right to have the material unaltered.
The material presented in this publication is distributed by the Queensland Government as an information source only. The State of Queensland makes no
statements, representations, or warranties about the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this publication, and the reader should not
rely on it. The Queensland Government disclaims all responsibility and all liability (including, without limitation, liability in negligence) for all expenses,
losses, damages and costs you might incur as a result of the information being inaccurate or incomplete in any way, and for any reason


Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, Department of J ustice and Attorney-General
Workplace health and safety in schools: A practical guide for school leaders
PN10924 Version 3 Last updated J une 2011

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Introduction
Workplace health and safety affects everyone in Queenslands school communities, including staff,
students, parents and visitors.

This simple and practical guide will help those with management responsibility for workplace
health and safety in schools - such as principals, assistant principals, and leadership team members
responsible for budgets, facilities and purchasing - to understand their roles and get started on the
challenge to improve the health and safety performance of their schools.

The guide can also be used by school councils or board presidents and members, and members of
school parents and friends committees (P&Fs) or members of parents and citizens associations
(P&Cs), where they exist and it is their role, to help shape the workplace health and safety policies
and procedures of their schools.

The information in this guide applies to all Queensland schools, including government, independent
and Catholic institutions.

Health and safety is not a complex matter that can only be understood by trained specialists or that
needs a significant financial commitment to make improvements. It can be integrated into existing
school processes. Commitment from school leaders, consulting with staff and identifying,
prioritising and acting on key issues are the way to do to make real improvements in workplace
health and safety in schools.

Note: There will be some changes to workplace health and safety requirements as part of the
national Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) harmonisation process and the implementation of
the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 in J anuary 2012. However, the broad principles of managing
workplace health and safety in schools as outlined in this guide will continue.

More information about current legislative requirements and specific workplace health and safety
topics discussed in this guide is available on www.worksafe.qld.gov.au or by calling WHS Infoline
1300 369 915.

More information about electrical safety is available on www.eso.qld.gov.au or by calling 1300 650
662.
















Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, Department of J ustice and Attorney-General

Glossary

Workplace health and safety in schools: A practical guide for school leaders
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Hazard is something with the potential to cause harm.

This can include substances (both hazardous and dangerous), plant, work
processes or other aspects of the work environment.

Risk is the likelihood that a harmful consequence (death, injury or illness)
might result when exposed to the hazard.

Risk can be quantified as a function of the likelihood of occurrence of the
potential harm arising from the hazard and the severity of consequences
measured by the value of the damage the harm could cause. The amount
of risk is affected by the likelihood of the occurrence (event) and the
severity of the consequence that may occur.
Acronyms
CRT Casual relief teacher
CPTED Crime Prevention through Environmental Design
DET Department of Education and Training
MSDS Material Safety Data Sheet
OHS Occupational Health and Safety
WHS Act Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995
WHSO Workplace Health and Safety Officer
WHS Regulation Workplace Health and Safety Regulation 2008
WHSR Workplace Health and Safety Representative



Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, Department of J ustice and Attorney-General
Workplace health and safety in schools: A practical guide for school leaders
PN10924 Version 3 Last updated J une 2011

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Developing a systematic approach to workplace health and
safety
Why should we put effort into workplace health and safety?
Schools are facing increasing expectations and pressures, many of which need to be addressed
immediately. However, there are good reasons to treat workplace health and safety as a core issue
for schools. If it is an integral part of school planning, and addressed as part of other school
processes, it contributes to the schools goal of providing effective educational and safe outcomes
for students and staff.

Improving the school climate
A students performance is likely to be influenced by the level of morale and motivation of staff
members at their school. Putting effort into workplace health and safety demonstrates to staff that
the leadership team cares about their wellbeing. Good OHS performance in schools generally
results in fewer injuries, greater job satisfaction, increased motivation, better industrial relations,
improved retention of staff and better student performance.

Meeting community expectations
School communities expect that school leaders will ensure that people who come into the school
will go home at the end of the day as healthy as they arrived. Schools also have a responsibility to
model healthy and safe workplaces for their students, who are the employers and workers of the
future.

Budgetary implications
Improving a schools workplace health and safety performance has a direct impact on the budget.
Lower sick leave rates reduce the need to engage casual relief teachers (CRT), and better staff
retention lowers recruitment and replacement costs. Also, good workplace health and safety
performance:
reduces the risk of public liability claims
has the potential to reduce workers compensation premiums
may influence student enrolment numbers, which could affect annual funding.

Meeting legal obligations
The legal requirements for health and safety are currently set out in the Workplace Health and
Safety Act 1995 (WHS Act), the Dangerous Goods Safety Management Act 2001 (Dangerous Goods
Act), the Electrical Safety Act 2002, (Electrical Safety Act), the Workplace Health and Safety
Regulations 2008 and the Electrical Safety Regulation 2002.

Schools also have a legal duty of care towards their students. In most cases establishing a health and
safety culture with effective workplace health and safety processes will assist in meeting this duty
of care.

What does the law require?
1

The WHS Act, the Dangerous Goods Act, the Electrical Safety Act and the associated Regulations
set out the key principles that underpin workplace health and safety in Queensland. Understanding
these principles is the key to understanding the legal requirements that apply to workplace health
and safety in Queensland schools.

1
Note, there will be some changes to legal obligations when the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 comes into effect in
J anuary 2012.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, Department of J ustice and Attorney-General
Workplace health and safety in schools: A practical guide for school leaders
PN10924 Version 3 Last updated J une 2011

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These principles are summarised below:
All people (workers, students and the general public) should have the highest level of protection
against risks to health and safety.
Those who are in control of workplaces are responsible for ensuring that risks of injury or
illness from a workplace are minimised.
Employers should be proactive in promoting health and safety in the workplace.
Information and ideas about risks and how to control them should be shared between employers
and workers.
Workers are entitled to and should be encouraged to be represented about workplace health and
safety issues.

Who has a duty?
Under the Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 (WHS Act), the main duty holder is a person who
conducts a business or undertaking (PCBU). In the school environment, the PCBU includes an
employer (e.g. DET, school council/board, parish priest) or self-employed person (e.g. independent
contractor). While the employer can assign responsibilities to others in the organisation (such as a
principal), the employer cannot delegate legal duties to workers and must therefore, ensure that it
meets its duties under the law.

Employers must:
provide and maintain a healthy and safe working environment by managing exposure to risks
ensure that staff and people who are not workers (such as students, parents and visitors) are
protected from risks arising from the employers undertaking, including risks both on school
grounds and away from the school (e.g. on excursions or camps)
provide information, training, instruction and supervision to enable workers to work safely and
without risks to their health
provide for the workplace health and safety of workers, including independent contractors (such
as cleaners and technicians who repair equipment) and their workers, when they enter the
school to the extent that the hazards and risks are under the employers control. For example,
the employer must provide contractors with safe and clear access to the area in which they are
going to work and establish processes to isolate staff and students from these work areas where
necessary.

Workers have a duty to follow their employers instructions and look after their own and others
workplace health and safety. They must also follow the employers system for reporting workplace
health and safety incidents and hazards.

Teacher/staff supply agencies have a shared responsibility with the school for the workplace health
and safety of their workers. Responsibilities should be clarified with the contractor before any work
commences and be documented in the contractual arrangements between them.
Consultation
Employers must consult with workers when dealing with hazards and risks in the workplace.
Workers have significant knowledge and expertise about these issues and can make a significant
contribution to improving health and safety. Proactive and regular consultation with workers will
help to identify hazards and risks in the workplace and build a strong commitment to health and
safety.


Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, Department of J ustice and Attorney-General
Workplace health and safety in schools: A practical guide for school leaders
PN10924 Version 3 Last updated J une 2011

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Consultation should also include the:
Workplace Health and Safety Officer (WHSO)
2
(if there are 30 or more workers at the school)
Workplace Health and Safety Representative (WHSR) (if workers request one be appointed)
Health and Safety Committee (if the school has set one up).

In the school environment, consultation about workplace health and safety can be easily integrated
into the normal process of consultation about other matters. Workplace health and safety
consultation can be included in:
staff meetings
individual face-to-face discussions, or
meetings between the employer and the union representing the workers.

WHSRs must be invited to attend these meetings if workers request it.

Returning to work after injury
Employers also have responsibilities under the Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003
to take all reasonable steps to assist with, or provide, rehabilitation for an injured worker for the
period for which the worker is receiving compensation. Employers may also have further
obligations to appoint a rehabilitation and return to work coordinator.

Incident notification
Persons conducting a business or undertaking have a duty to report a notifiable workplace incident.
Who should report a notifiable incident at a school will depend on the individual circumstances of
each school or class of schools.

The notifiable incident must be reported, in the approved form, to Workplace Health and Safety
Queensland or the Electrical Safety Office. Workplaces must also keep records of particular
incidents for a certain time.

Electrical safety
An act, regulation and codes of practice set out the rules, obligations, practical systems and
penalties that ensure electrical safety in Queensland. The legislation covers a broad range of topics
including electrical industry standards, licensing and penalties and applies not only in workplaces,
but throughout the community, including schools. The legislation also provides practical ways to
meet electrical safety duties and reporting requirements for serious electrical incidents and
dangerous electrical events.

The Queensland Governments Electrical Safety Office (ESO) is the governing agency for electrical
safety in Queensland.


2
Note, that there are no provisions for WHSOs in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 which comes into effect in
J anuary 2012. However maintaining a role for a trained safety advisor within a business or undertaking will:
promote a positive work health and safety culture by sending a clear message that health and safety is valued by
the business
support officers in meeting their due diligence requirements
ensure safety information is updated
be a cost-effective way of demonstrating due diligence.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, Department of J ustice and Attorney-General
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What are the roles of school leaders?
Member(s) of the school leadership team
In the education sector, the employer may delegate responsibility for coordinating and monitoring
workplace health and safety to a senior school leader, usually the school principal.

This person:
is responsible for managing workplace health and safety in the school within the requirements
and guidelines set by the employer
may allocate responsibilities to other school-based leaders, such as assistant principals, business
managers, facility managers and/or the WHSO (where one is appointed).

Key leadership responsibilities for workplace health and safety include:
making decisions on workplace health and safety in consultation with the WHSR and staff
ensuring that risks in the school (e.g. manual tasks, hazardous substances) are controlled
purchasing safe equipment
keeping school buildings and grounds safe
liaising with building designers to ensure that new buildings and renovations and alterations to
existing buildings do not pose risks to staff and students (i.e. eliminating risks through good
design)
addressing issues raised by WHSRs, and
ensuring the welfare of staff members and students.

If there are issues that cannot be dealt with at the school level, they should be referred to the
appropriate level of management outside the school for resolution. In some cases the advice of a
workplace health and safety specialist may be sought.

School councils/boards/Parents and Friends committees (P&Fs)/Parents and Citizens
Associations (P&Cs)
Where they exist and it is part of their role, school councils/boards/P&Fs/P&Cs, as representatives
of school communities, should make policies that commit to ongoing and measurable improvement
in the workplace health and safety performance of their schools.

The school council/board/P&F/P&C should:
report to the school community on the schools performance against its targets at least annually
regularly engage with the community in promoting awareness and change in relation to
workplace health and safety.

Displaying the names of people with key workplace health and safety roles
The names of the member(s) of the school leadership team responsible for workplace health and
safety (including the WHSO) and the WHSRs must be clearly displayed in a prominent place, or be
readily accessible to staff, in accordance with legislative requirements.

Getting started - five simple steps
Getting started on workplace health and safety is not difficult. By integrating workplace health and
safety into existing school processes on matters such as consultation and staff and student welfare, it
can become part of the schools daily routine without requiring significant additional resources.
This collaborative approach will help ensure that the real risks in the school are addressed, and have
the best chance of success.


Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, Department of J ustice and Attorney-General
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PN10924 Version 3 Last updated J une 2011

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It is a good idea to share workplace health and safety skills and resources with collegiate groups of
schools close to each other (e.g. an existing network). The steps outlined below can be adapted for a
group of schools, if required.

There are five simple steps that school leaders with responsibility for workplace health and safety
should take to get started, as follows.

1. Demonstrate commitment
Stating a commitment to the workplace health and safety of staff members is a good way to start.
However, like any other aspect of leading a complex school community, this statement needs to be
followed up with actions.

Ways to demonstrate commitment to OHS in the school include:
Developing workplace health and safety policy(s) and procedures that:
set out the schools commitment to work with staff (including the WHSR) to improve health
and safety in the school environment
are integrated into the schools main policy statements
are available to staff and the public (staff and the WHSR, should be invited to comment on
the policies before they are finalised)
reflect the culture, leadership structure and risks at the school
explain how the workplace health and safety risks will be managed
are posted in a prominent place and reviewed regularly.
Allocating management responsibility for workplace health and safety to leaders with the
appropriate level of seniority and competency to act in this role (e.g. assistant principals,
facility managers, WHSOs). Undertaking workplace health and safety training specifically
designed for WHSOs and senior managers is a good way to gain the necessary competency.
Accountability for workplace health and safety should be:
allocated in the same way as other responsibilities
included in all nominated leaders position descriptions
assessed as part of their performance reviews.
Establishing a good relationship with the WHSR and providing them with specific workplace
health and safety training approved by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland. A
cooperative relationship between the leadership team and the WHSR will ensure that risks in
the school can be tackled comprehensively and constructively. If there is no WHSR in the
school, staff should be encouraged to elect one or more to represent them.
Setting up a process for regularly consulting with staff about workplace health and safety and
integrating it into staff consultation on other issues. The WHSRs must be consulted when
determining the consultation arrangements for workplace health and safety and they must
always be involved in consultation on workplace health and safety issues.
Schools may choose to establish a dedicated Workplace Health and Safety Committee and/or
include workplace health and safety as a regular agenda item in staff meetings. Encourage staff
to raise workplace health and safety issues in meetings and report back on how it is proposed to
deal with each issue.
Staff meetings provide a good forum for consultation on workplace health and safety,
including:
alerting staff to hazards
seeking their ideas on options to control risks
reporting progress on risk control plans.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, Department of J ustice and Attorney-General
Workplace health and safety in schools: A practical guide for school leaders
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Other meetings where it may be appropriate for each school to put workplace health and safety
on the agenda include:
leadership meetings
administrative committee meetings
curriculum-related meetings
year level coordinators meetings
staff welfare committee meetings
workplace health and safety committee meetings (if one has been appointed).
Agenda items should be set in consultation with the WHSR, and should always include
feedback on issues raised at previous meetings. The needs of both teaching and non-teaching
staff should be considered.
Workplace health and safety consultation should be included in the schools review of general
consultation arrangements and documented.

2. Gather information about hazards
A hazard is something with the potential to cause harm.

There are many simple ways to identify the hazards that exist in the school environment,
including:
carrying out hazard inspections or walk around audits regularly (at least once a term)
reviewing easily accessible information such as:
o incident reports
o workers compensation claims
o sick leave records
o the first aid register
o the injury register
o records of employee assistance programs
issuing a hazard survey to staff and students
reviewing data from staff opinion surveys.
Carry out audits after:
a workplace health and safety incident
changes in the way work is done
changes in work procedures
changes in the layout or design of a work area.
Depending on the size and leadership structure of the school, inspections could be carried out
on the basis of a building complex, mini-school, campus or the entire school. The WHSR
should be invited to participate in the inspections. Hazards affecting both teaching and non-
teaching staff must be considered.
Record the findings of the inspections. (A simple template for recording the results of
inspections is provided at the end of this guide.) Some school sector employers already have
more sophisticated ways of recording the identified hazards and the results of hazard
inspections, including using computer-based databases.

3. Develop and implement an action plan
Once the hazards in the school have been identified, the next step is to decide which hazards
pose risks to health and safety and develop an action plan to deal with the risks. Staff and
WHSRs should be consulted about the implementation of measures to deal with risks.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, Department of J ustice and Attorney-General
Workplace health and safety in schools: A practical guide for school leaders
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The best way to manage exposure to risks is to eliminate the hazard or prevent the risk. To
properly manage exposure to risks:
look for the hazards
assess and prioritise risks
decide on control measures
put controls in place
monitor and review the controls.
The action plan should be simple with specific school leaders allocated responsibility to ensure
the actions are implemented. The template at the end of this guide can be used for recording the
actions planned to deal with the risks, the person responsible for these actions, and when they
have been completed.
Some solutions will be simple and inexpensive to implement while others will need to be
budgeted for. It is a good idea to develop the plan before budgeting proposals are finalised, so
that any necessary expenditure can be included in the school budget.

4. Make sure staff have the right information to work safely
School leaders must ensure staff are given the right information and training to do their work
safely and without risk to their health. The information and training should cover the:
hazards and risks in the school environment
consultation and representation arrangements in the school
measures that are in place to control risks.
New staff and staff allocated a new activity or task should be given workplace health and safety
information and training before they start work. The information and training should be
integrated into the schools processes for inducting new staff and allocating work.
School leaders must also make sure that staff are supervised appropriately so that they are able
to work safely and follow the workplace health and safety procedures in place in the school.

5. Monitor and evaluate progress
Actions taken to manage workplace health and safety risks should be regularly monitored and
evaluated. This should be done before the next round of hazard inspections, but may need to be
done more frequently to ensure progress is being made to control risks.
The following indicators can be used to measure progress in improving the schools workplace
health and safety performance over time. The number of:
injuries, illnesses, near misses, sick leave days and workers compensation claims reported
issues raised and addressed by WHSRs and staff
hazard inspections conducted and follow-up actions taken
staff trained in workplace health and safety
WHSOs and WHSRs elected
WHSOs and WHSRs who have attended initial and annual refresher training
issues raised by inspectors, including any compliance notices issued.
Results of the evaluations should be documented, and reflected in the performance reviews of
the leaders who have been allocated responsibility for implementing the agreed actions.

The diagram on the following page shows the five steps process for addressing school-based
hazards and risks.



Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, Department of J ustice and Attorney-General


Step 1:
Identify hazards


Step 2:
Assess and prioritise risks

Step 3:
Decide on control
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measures including
hierarchy of control


Step 5:

Monitor and review
Consultation
should be carried
h step out at eac
of this process

Step 4:

Implement control
measures


Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, Department of J ustice and Attorney-General
Managing the main risks in schools
What are the main risks and how should we deal with them?
Workers compensation claim statistics provide an indication of the most common injuries that
occur to staff in the education sector. These are summarised in the diagram below.


Psychological system

School Teachers

% of
total
injuries
Body part Description of most prevalent injuries and causes
16% Back Muscle and tendon sprains and strains from handling, lifting carrying and
bending down to pick up things
11% Neck Low impact repetitive movement, voice strain
10% Knee Muscle and tendon sprains and strains from kneeling, walking or from poor
or uneven ground surfaces
9% Ankle Muscle and tendon sprains and strains from falling or tripping on poor or
uneven ground surfaces
8% Psychological system Anxiety, depression, work-related stress from work pressures

8% Hand, fingers and
thumbs
Muscle and tendon sprains and strains from repeatedly doing the same
things or from falling or tripping on poor or uneven ground surfaces
5% Shoulder Muscle and tendon sprains and strains from handling, lifting carrying
objects
5% Foot and toes Muscle and tendon sprains and strains from falling or tripping on poor or
uneven ground surfaces

Source: Queensland Employee Injury Database. Data current as at July 2009 and is subject to change over
time. Based on accepted workers compensation claims, excluding commuting claims, between 2000-01
and 2007-08.

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Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, Department of J ustice and Attorney-General
Workplace health and safety in schools: A practical guide for school leaders
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The most common types of injuries and illnesses in schools can be summarised as manual tasks
injuries, psychosocial injuries and illnesses, and injuries resulting from slips, trips and falls. Many
other types of injuries and illnesses can occur in the school environment, and risks should be
managed in a systematic way.

Providing information and training to staff about the risks that are present in the school
environment, and the measures that are being implemented to control them, is an essential part of a
systematic approach to managing the risks.

Manual tasks injuries
What are manual tasks?

Manual tasks include activities that require someone to exert force in order to grasp, manipulate,
strike, throw, carry, move (lift, lower, push, pull) hold or restrain an object, load or body part.
Common examples of manual tasks in schools include:
moving sporting equipment
assisting or restraining a student with special needs
moving maintenance equipment in the school grounds
mowing sporting fields
cleaning classrooms
stacking chairs
sorting library books.

What effect can these activities have on the health of staff?
Certain manual tasks can be hazardous and may lead to injury when they involve:
repetitive or sustained application of force, awkward postures or movements
tasks that people would find difficult due to the degree of force required
people handling, such as toileting students in special schools, and
handling objects that are large, bulky or difficult to grasp or hold.

The types of injuries and outcomes that can result from hazardous manual tasks include:
muscular sprains and strains
injuries to the ligaments, intervertebral discs and other structures in the back and neck
injuries to the soft tissue, such as nerves, ligaments and tendons injuries to the wrists, arms,
shoulders, or legs
abdominal hernias.

How to control the risks
The table below identifies risks from some common school tasks which involve hazardous manual
tasks, and sets out effective ways of controlling the risk. Staff must be consulted in determining the
control measures to be used.

Risk Examples of risk controls

Likelihood of injury
resulting from moving
heavy/large/awkward
equipment, teaching tools
or materials such as
Ensure equipment is permanently available in each room or area
where it is needed.
Permanently store equipment on suitable trolleys close to where
it is needed, and ensure the trolleys are easy to manoeuvre (e.g.
the trolley is well maintained, there is smooth flooring, there are

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, Department of J ustice and Attorney-General
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televisions, other
audiovisual equipment,
class sets, chairs, tables
and building materials
no steps or steep ramps).
Ensure equipment is suitably mounted and restrained on the
trolley.
Purchase smaller size and lighter equipment and materials.
Likelihood of injury
resulting from handling
heavy or awkward objects,
such as computers,
sporting equipment and air
conditioners, and hitching
and unhitching trailers

Eliminate or minimise the need to move equipment, through
planning and timetabling.
Use alternatives to heavy or awkward equipment.
Divide the equipment into smaller loads.
Ensure there is adequate storage for heavy and more frequently
handled items between knee and shoulder height.
Ensure equipment can be transported without applying high
force (e.g. using trolleys and cages with castors selected for the
terrain).
Fit trailers with suitable jockey wheels and provide suitable
chocks.
Provide small trolleys for transporting laptop computers and
books to classrooms.
Likelihood of injury
resulting from hanging
objects/displays/
projects at height in
buildings and classrooms

Put pulley systems in place to hang objects or displays.
Ensure display boards for lightweight objects are easily
accessible, and work is displayed within the staff members arm
reach.
Ensure staff use a suitable stepladder to hang objects and
displays.
Likelihood of injury
resulting from prolonged
computer-based or written
tasks without a break
Provide suitable adjustable chairs for all workstations where
computer or written work is done.
Provide suitable desks at each workstation.
Ensure screens are clear and free of glare.
Locate printers to encourage staff to stand and walk to printers.
Where laptop computers are being used, provide a height
adjuster for the monitor and a separate keyboard and mouse.
Likelihood of injury
resulting from moving and
storing boxes (e.g. in
archives or general storage
rooms)

Eliminate double handling in work processes and provide safe
access, (e.g. direct delivery of items).
Do not overfill boxes.
Provide trolleys that are suitable, maintained in good working
order and readily available.
Install appropriate storage and shelving systems.
Likelihood of injury
arising from accessing and
handling stored materials
in classrooms, technology
areas, staff rooms, storage
areas, maintenance sheds,
facilities sheds

Use just in time purchasing procedures to minimise demands
on storage areas.
Provide and use adequate storage.
Provide trolleys that are suitable, maintained in good working
order and readily available.
Store heavy and frequently used items between knee and
shoulder height.
Conduct regular storage audits to ensure that unnecessary
materials are removed to free up space for safer access.






Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, Department of J ustice and Attorney-General






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Psychological injuries and illnesses
What are the risk factors?
Risk to the psychological and physical health of staff arises from work-related stress, violence,
harassment and bullying. Some of the risk factors in the school environment which may lead to
psychological harm include:
lack of control over workload and work demands (such as pressure to work long hours and
timetabling issues)
challenging behaviour of students, parents or colleagues
workplace violence and aggression
bullying and harassment
poor leadership skills
poor communication
lack of clarity around roles, processes and procedures
perceptions that processes, such as promotion processes, are not procedurally fair
concerns about career development, social status and pay

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, Department of J ustice and Attorney-General
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conflicting demands of home and school
working in isolation
perceived lack of support from management and colleagues
poorly managed conflict
masking negative emotions in interactions with student and parents.

The injuries, illnesses and other impacts that can result include:
psychological distress
emotional exhaustion
physical health symptoms
taking frequent sick leave
a sense of low morale and a low level of engagement with work
deteriorating work performance
an intention to resign from work.

It is important to focus attention on the risk factors which can actually be dealt with at the school
level. If certain issues cannot be raised or dealt with at the school level, they should be referred for
resolution to the appropriate level of management outside the school.

How to control the risks
A key to tackling psychological injuries and illnesses is consultation and open communication.
Suggested topics for consultation with staff are:
circumstances when the risk factors occur
how often they occur and over what period (to determine whether risk builds over time)
what actions or behaviours are linked to the risk factors
possible solutions and controls.

All hazards, which are identified through consultation with staff and the WHSR, should be
investigated further and the most suitable way to resolve the identified problems should be agreed
to and implemented. The agreed measures and timeline for implementation should be recorded in an
action plan. This plan should show who is responsible for the actions, and be regularly reviewed
and evaluated.

The table below sets out some ways of controlling the risk of psychological injuries and illnesses.

Risk Examples of risk controls

Likelihood of
psychological injury
arising from the
organisational culture
Build a leadership structure that engages, supports and motivates
staff.
Treat everyone with respect, dignity and politeness.
Build leadership and management skills.
Improve consultation and communication between leaders and
staff.
Provide clear educational and other objectives for the school.
Make sure that job roles and accountabilities are clearly defined
so everyone knows what is expected of them.
Develop clear school policies on issues such as mobile phone
use by students, and make sure they are consistently applied.
Provide support for staff to do their work (e.g. mentoring
system, employee assistance program).

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Provide career options and professional development
opportunities and other training for staff where possible.
Provide flexibility in timetabling where possible for staff with
conflicting home and school requirements.
Likelihood of
psychological injury
arising from interpersonal
relationships at work
Develop and implement policies to deal with bullying and
occupational violence.
Implement issue resolution (grievance) processes for staff and
parents.
Ensure systems are in place to manage conflict before it
escalates.
Create a culture where colleagues trust and encourage each other
to perform at their best.
Encourage good, honest, open communication at all levels in
work teams.
Look for work and system design issues that may be negatively
affecting communication (e.g. recognition and reward or role
conflict).
Likelihood of
psychological injury
arising from the physical
work environment

Ensure staff have a well designed work environment.
Provide the equipment, facilities and technology needed to help
them achieve effective educational outcomes.
Ensure that security arrangements at the school are appropriate,
(e.g. incorporating Crime Prevention through Environmental
Design (CPTED) principles).
Ensure that workplace health and safety is considered when
designing new buildings and modifying or refurbishing existing
ones.
Likelihood of
psychological injury
arising from the way work
is managed

Allocate duties to staff members on the basis of their skills and
interests.
Make sure that there is a clear and effective process for replacing
teachers on sick leave, professional development, (e.g. giving
adequate notice of extras, engaging CRT teachers).
Where possible, make sure that the school timetable gives
teachers a spread of teaching periods, yard duty and non-student
contact time across the working week.
Avoid placing inconsistent demands on workers and, where
possible, ensure that the different requirements placed on
workers are compatible.
Involve staff in decisions about their work and give them
opportunities to have input and control.
Ensure there are adequate meetings at appropriate levels (all
staff, year levels, mini-schools) so that there is good
communication within teams.
Likelihood of
psychological injury
resulting from inadequate
information, instruction or
training
Have a formal induction process for all staff including CRT, and
volunteers.
Advise staff about the schools workplace health and safety
procedures including:
processes for reporting hazards and incidents
who to go to about a workplace health and safety issue
who the WHSRs are
the roles of the leadership team member(s) responsible for

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workplace health and safety, WHSRs and staff.
Provide clear information to staff, parents and students about the
schools expectations for enrolment, discipline and transfer
procedures.
Provide relevant workplace health and safety training to all
workers, including management level workers.
Ensure all workers receive suitable training to do their jobs.
Train workers on how to diffuse difficult situations, (e.g. conflict
management, communication skills and confidence building).
Train all workers how to identify bullying and how to respond if
bullying is witnessed or experienced in the workplace.
Train relevant people how to design work to minimise bullying.

Slips, trips and falls injuries
Types of injuries
Slips, trips and falls in the school environment can result in a wide range of injuries, including:
fractures of the forearm and wrist from breaking a fall, falling on uneven ground, slipping on
wet floors
muscle strain from slipping on dropped food or tripping on damaged flooring
traumatic joint or muscle injury from falling during physical education activity, slipping on
floors still wet after cleaning or tripping over low obstacles
cuts if a fall occurs near sharp objects.

What are the causes of these injuries?
Common causes of slips, trips and falls are set out in the table below. This table may provide useful
prompts when carrying out a health and safety inspection of both indoor and outdoor areas.

Contaminants tracking rain water/ mud into the class room or other school room,
dropped food, spills of art materials, such as paint and glue, metal
shavings
Flooring unsuitable for purpose, poor drainage, worn/slippery, not correctly
fitted or maintained, uneven edges to flooring, changes of level that
are not highlighted
Stairs poor lighting on stairs, no suitable handrail, steps of uneven height
and varying width, poorly maintained coverings or surfaces
Cleaning

not attending to spills promptly and not removing contaminants
effectively, build-up of cleaning product residue, allowing people to
walk on damp floors after cleaning
Housekeeping

poor access along walkways and to work areas, cluttered access and
walkways, trailing wires, obstructions, untidy floors around
workstations, inadequate storage space, not enough rubbish bins
People and activity carrying large objects, becoming distracted while walking (e.g.
using a mobile phone), students and staff rushing about, wearing
inappropriate footwear
Environment

light on a shiny floor causing glare, low lighting and unable to see
change in floor levels
Roofs Retrieving balls from roofs.


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The following table sets out ways to control the risk of slips, trips and falls in the school
environment.

Risk Examples of risk controls

Likelihood of injury
arising from slips, trips
and falls on stairs and
steps

Ensure stairs are not slippery (e.g. non-slip bull-nose finish) and
the surfaces are well maintained.
Ensure the nosing and/or tread of stairs are well defined visually
(e.g. good lighting, bright strips).
Ensure there are no isolated low steps which could be a trip
hazard.
Provide sturdy handrails at a suitable height on all steps and
stairs.
Likelihood of injury
arising from slips in the
general environment


Ensure there is a slip-resistant floor surface in areas where water
or grease or other contaminants can create a slip hazard.
Minimise the spread of contaminants, (e.g. effective drainage,
fix leaks promptly).
Place suitable absorbent mats at entrances to buildings and
sheds.
Ensure outdoor walkway surfaces are free of leaves, mud,
clippings, paper, gravel, moss and slime.
Ensure spills are managed immediately.
Use hazard warning barriers and signs around spills or until
areas that have just been cleaned are dry.
Locate power points to avoid the need for electrical cables to
trail on the floor.
Develop and follow a cleaning program that is appropriate for
the flooring and will prevent build up of cleaning product or
residue on floors.
Likelihood of injury
arising from trips in the
general environment


Ensure floor, doormats and carpets remain firmly in place.
Ensure there are no low obstacles, there are adequate storage
racks for bikes, aisles and passageways are kept clear, and
lockers, desks and shelves are provided for storing personal
items.
Ensure footpaths and garden edgings are properly maintained.
Repair/maintain surfaces, such as potholes and tears in carpets.
Highlight changes in floor surfaces.
Highlight trip hazards that are unable to be removed, such as tree
roots, and single steps between two levels.
Likelihood of injury
arising from falls from
roofs
Where possible, ensure the gradient of roofs allows balls to fall
back to ground level without needing to be retrieved.
Ensure balls are only retrieved from roofs by designated trained
staff using suitable equipment such as extended handle-ball
retrievers.
Ensure skylights are guarded.



Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, Department of J ustice and Attorney-General



Other common hazards and risks

Other hazards and risks, such as those named below, can cause injury and illness in schools.

Biological hazards
Infectious diseases can spread readily in schools. Infection control practices should be adopted
including:
hand hygiene
staff vaccination
routine cleaning of the school environment
cleaning blood and body substance spills
safe handling and disposal of sharps and other waste
hygienic handling and care of animals
use of PPE.

Contact the Queensland Health Public Health Unit for advice if a staff member or student is
diagnosed with a contagious disease.

Hazardous substances and dangerous goods
Hazardous substances can harm peoples health and their use must be eliminated or a less hazardous
substance used. If there is still a risk from the substance, other control methods such as personal
protective equipment must be used.
A register must be kept of all the hazardous substances in the school. A material safety data sheet
(MSDS) that provides health and safety information about the hazardous substances (chemical),
must be obtained for each hazardous substance in the school.

In the school environment, hazardous substances include:
chemicals used in science rooms, technology rooms and art rooms, and swimming pools
cleaning agents.
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Dangerous goods are substances that can cause injury or death, and can also seriously damage
property and the environment. Petrol, LPG, pesticides and acids are common dangerous goods that
may be found in the school environment. Risks associated with dangerous goods must be
eliminated, or reduced as far as reasonably practicable.

Plant and equipment
Plant and equipment in the technology and science rooms, maintenance and facility sheds, and other
parts of the school, pose significant risks of injury, such as open wounds, lacerations and burns.
Injury can be caused by rotating shafts and pulleys, drive belts, blades or by sudden and rapid
movement of a part of the plant.

Wherever it is reasonably practicable, plant and equipment that eliminate the risk or have a lower
level of risk are to be used. If any item of plant can cause crushing or amputation injuries, guard the
hazardous part of the plant or provide another engineering control that prevents injury (e.g. a
movement sensing light curtain that stops the plant before injury can occur). If a guard can be easily
removed, (e.g. for plant maintenance), warning signs may also be required on the plant. Personal
protective equipment should be used where it is impractical to control all risks, (e.g. eye protection
when using a drill, eye and hearing protection when using a circular saw).

Amusement devices
If amusement devices (e.g. jumping castles, roller coasters) are used at a school fete, the organising
committee should:
Only use amusement devices that have been audited with the National Audit Tool for
Amusement Devices. Make this a condition of the contract between the fete organising
committee and the amusement device owners.
Consider working with amusement device owners who are members of relevant industry
associations, (e.g. Showmens Guild of Australasia, Australian Amusement Leisure and
Recreation Association (AALARA) and Australian Amusement Association (AAA)). Members
of these associations are generally better informed about safety requirements. A more detailed
guide for fete organisers and safety of amusement devices is available through Education
Queensland.
Inform the regional Workplace Health and Safety Queensland office about the fete and invite an
inspector to assist if the committee is still concerned about the safety of the amusement devices
or people they are working with.
Provide enough space in the area where the rides are set up so that if it becomes necessary,
emergency vehicles (e.g. fire truck, ambulance) can drive into the area and park adjacent to the
amusement device to provide the necessary emergency assistance.

Electrical safety
The following are the five key messages promoted by Queenslands Electrical Safety Office. When
talking about or promoting electrical safety within your school community you may find it helpful
to use these messages and other resources from the ESO website www.electricalsafety.qld.gov.au

1. Safety switches save lives
If you dont have safety switches installed on your switchboard, have them installed as
soon as possible by a licensed electrical contractor.
Push the test button on each of your safety switches every three months to make sure
they turn the power off. Then turn the power back on.


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2. Beware of hidden dangers
Dont use damaged power points, switches, electrical equipment, appliances or cords
with frayed or broken wires.
Get all damaged items repaired or replaced immediately by a licensed electrical
contractor.
Keep all electrical items clear of water and splashes and always wear shoes when using
electrical items.

3. Dont do your own electrical work
Dont fix broken electrical items, dont do your own electrical wiring or do any other
electrical work.
Get a licensed electrical contractor to do it.

4. Keep away from overhead power lines
Dont get too close to powerlines and dont let anything touch powerlines.
Powerlines are lethal look up and live.

5. Keep children safe
Dont let young children near power points, electrical cords or appliances and keep them
away from all power tools and electrical equipment.
If students are using power tools, ensure they are closely supervised.

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Getting more information
Listed below are sources of information about the issues covered in this guide, and other common
hazards and risks in schools.

The Department of Education and Training (DET) has a wide variety of general resources as well as
policies and procedures for schools available from the departments website. These resources,
policies and procedures have been developed for state schools and require other agencies to
customise these documents to their own circumstances.

The Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995 and the Workplace Health and Safety Regulation 2008
set out the obligations of employers, workers and other people in relation to OHS. (Note, there will
be some changes to legal obligations when the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 comes into effect
in J anuary 2012.)

The Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 sets out the obligations of employers and
workers in relation to workers compensation and return to work.

The Electrical Safety Act 2000 sets out the obligations for electrical safety that a range of people,
including employers and persons in control of electrical equipment, must meet in order to comply
with the requirements of the law.

Download the relevant legislation and regulations from the Office of the Queensland Parliamentary
Counsel.

Amusement devices
National Audit Tool

Checklist for school fete/event organisers mobile amusement devices (DET checklist)

Biological hazards
Vaccine-preventable diseases

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) in child care

Latex allergy

Education Queensland's Infection Control Guidelines

Queensland Health Infection control guidelines for Animal Contact

Bullying, Stress and Occupational violence
Bullying and harassment in workplaces

Prevention of Workplace Harassment Code of Practice

Workplace harassment information tool

Occupational Stress

Identifying Stress (DET Fact sheet)


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Occupational Violence

Prevention of Bullying and Violence at Work: Guidance Note (WorkSafe Victoria)

Chemicals/hazardous substances
Chemicals and hazardous substances (DET web page)

Chemicals, substances and dangerous goods

Computer use and office work
Ergonomic workstations for keyboard operators

Safe use of laptops (DET Fact sheet)


Office Ergonomics (DET Fact sheet)

Consultation
Workplace consultation

Committees and consultation (DET web page)

Contractors
Building Education Revolution

Creating Healthier Workplaces

Dangerous goods
Chemicals, substances and dangerous goods

Chemicals and dangerous goods (DET SO Folder)

School Science Lessons

Electrical safety
Electrical safety in school

Electrical safety at work

Electrical safety for householders and consumers

Employer duties
General health and safety obligations

People who conduct a business or undertaking

Workplace health and safety (DET School to Work)

Excursions
Policy and procedures related to school excursions (DET procedure)


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Hazards
Hazards in schools (DET web page)

Incident notification and reporting
Accidents, Incidents and Incident Investigations (DET web page)

Reporting an incident

Laws and prosecutions
Laws and prosecutions

Manual tasks
Manual Handling and Ergonomics (DET web page)

Manual Handling of Students Resource Package (DET resource package)

Manual tasks

Noise
Noise

Noise (DET web page)

Plant and equipment
Equipment and Machinery (DET web page)

Plant, machinery and equipment

Resolving OHS issues
Workplace Health and Safety Consultative Framework (DET procedure)

Workplace consultation
Workplace consultation

Returning injured staff members to work
Rehabilitation (DET web page)

Risk management
Risk Management of Code of Practice 2007

Security and crime prevention
School security (DET procedure)

Slips, trips and falls
Slips, trips and falls prevention guide

Slips, trips and falls (DET checklist)

Preventing slips, trips and falls (DET brochure)

Work experience
Work experience placements (DET procedure)

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Workplace Health and Safety Officers (WHSOs) and Workplace Health and Safety
Representatives (WHSRs)

Workplace Health and Safety Officer (DET web page)

Workplace Health and Safety Officers

Workplace Health and Safety Representatives

Young workers
Young workers


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Sample record of hazard inspection and risk control
(add rows to customise the needs of each school)

[INSERT NAME OF SCHOOL]
Form for documenting hazards, risks and control measures

This form is to be used to document regular hazard inspections, and the follow-up actions to control any risks identified during the hazard inspections.

Area of school inspected: ______________________________ Inspection conducted by: ______________________________________

Date of hazard inspection: ______________________________ Workplace health and safety representative: ______________________

Follow-up actions authorised by: ________________________ Next inspection to be conducted by (date): _______________________

Is there any risk?
(Is there any likelihood of
injury or illness actually
occurring?)

Hazards identified
(Describe the
situation which
might cause injury
or illness)
Yes/No

Measures already
implemented to
address the hazard

Where there is a risk,
describe the proposed
risk control measures
Date for
implementing
new risk
control
measures

Person
responsible for
implementing risk
control measures
Date of actual
implementation
of risk control
measures
(Fill in when the
measure has
been
implemented)
Signature of
person
responsible for
implementation
(after
completion)
1.


2.


3.


4.