As you know, all settings must of course carry out regular reviews of their policies and procedures, and many settings choose to spread this throughout the year by focussing on a small number of their documents each term. So as one term ends and another begins, practitioners’ thoughts are likely to turn to this task.
It was with this in mind that my eye was caught this week by an unlikely school health and safety story about the provision of flapjack, which made the national news. I decided to blog about it as I think the story makes an ideal starting point for a discussion exercise about what practitioners should really be considering when reviewing their health and safety policies and procedures, either after an incident has occurred or simply because a review is due. This discussion would be valuable both to experienced practitioners within the workplace and learners within the classroom.
You can start by reading the full news story and watching a video clip of the BBC news report at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-essex-21923218. Essentially, it’s the story of how a boy received a minor eye injury in school when a triangular shaped piece of flapjack thrown by another pupil caught him in the face. In response to this incident, the school told their catering staff “only to serve square or rectangular flapjacks,” following “a review of the texture and shape of the flapjacks provided.” At this point in the exercise, practitioners and learners can offer their opinions on the story, and debate what their own response to the situation would be.
The interest in the news story prompted the following response from the Health and Safety Executive, and sharing this is an ideal way to round off the discussion, “We often come across half-baked decisions taken in the name of health and safety, but this one takes the biscuit. The real issue isn’t what shape the flapjacks are, but the fact that pupils are throwing them at each other – and that’s a matter of discipline, and has got nothing to do with health and safety as we know it.”
The story has unsurprisingly been received with incredulous light heartedness by the media, but it does highlight an important issue – when it comes to safety, it really is essential to pinpoint and minimise the real cause of risks where appropriate, and to do that we need to regularly question the judgements that we make.
If it’s not already on your shelf, you may also like to consider the Nelson Thornes book Good Practice in Safeguarding Children, which looks in detail at policy and procedures.
Enjoy the Easter break. Hopefully it won’t be too long before the weather catches up with the season and those outdoor spring activities can get under way. Although of course, there’s still much to be learnt from the fact that you can’t plant things in the garden when there’s snow on the ground…