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School Safety and Hazard Assessment

By Rejeana Woolum-Napier posted 08-11-2022 12:12 PM


We’ve made it through another summer break and school is right around the corner. Maybe the break wasn’t long enough, or, perhaps it was too long! Typically, during this time our focus has been on yard maintenance, kids, parties, and hopefully, a vacation. But with all this over we need to change our focus and begin to think about school hazards. With the upcoming school season soon to begin, let’s start thinking about some of those hazards and how we can get back to promoting safety for our staff and students. Let’s look at some of the hazards and where they might be found.

Doing a risk assessment is a great process in findings hazards. Consider having others help as this allows for another set of eyes. Perform a risk assessment on each department, then move on to the next.

  • Remember classrooms will differ depending upon their specialty;
  • Hallways/stairways/elevators;
  • Cafeteria;
  • Kitchen;
  • Maintenance/Janitorial;
  • Gymnasium;
  • Restrooms;
  • Parking lots/Playgrounds;
  • Administrative offices; and
  • Common areas.

There may be other locations at your school not on the list so be sure to include them. 

Once you get your list of locations together, it is time to evaluate potential hazards in these areas. Your list can vary depending upon your school, so be sure to keep an open mind. The list below may not be all-encompassing, but it is a start, and you can add as you see necessary. 

  • Slips, trips, and falls hazards like spills, rain, melting snow, ice, damaged floors or carpet, cluttered work areas, open drawers, extension cords, hoses, oil, or sawdust;
  • Chemicals used in their respective classrooms. Liquids used for cleaning. Be sure containers are labeled and secured and the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) is available and used correctly;
  • Heating devices and open flames like bunsen burners, space heaters, stoves/ovens, deep fryers, and boilers;
  • Cut and scrape hazards like knives, tacks, paper cutters, and scissors;
  • Fall hazards such as working at heights in the classroom or outdoors, or using ladders;
  • Machinery such as saws, blades, cutting, shearing, punching, and ensuring the guards are being used;
  • Fire prevention such as blocked fire extinguishers, exit routes, and exit doors. Be sure staff is aware of the fire prevention and emergency action plan;
  • If lifting of items is necessary, be sure the practice safe lifting techniques;
  • Electrical hazards such as power tools, extension cords, broken outlets, and circuit breaker boxes. Look for damage on these items; and
  • Machinery such as scissor lifts or lifting equipment.

Even though that long summer break was nice, it’s time to get back to school. The hazards still exist so go through your facility to evaluate and address those hazards. Keeping staff and students safe is key to a successful program.