News updates for health and safety

Keeping school pools open over summer

November 2017

School pools don’t have to close over summer. The intention of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 is not to curtail the use of school pools or to stop schools from keeping their pools open over summer.

Keeping a school pool open or available outside of core school hours is a decision for the board of trustees. Go to more information about health and safety for school pools

Removal of the Code of Practice for School Exempt Laboratories

November 2017

Hazardous Substances Regulations come into effect on 1 December 2017. At this time, the Hazardous Substances Codes of Practice will no longer be applicable.

For school laboratories, we are working with WorkSafe to develop guidance and compliance documents to replace the Code of Practice for School Exempt Laboratories. Until they are released. The Ministry of Education and WorkSafe suggest schools continue to use the Code of Practice, as well as the Ministry’s other guidance to the Code, (which outlines your responsibilities as a board) as their guidance documents for hazardous substance management.

We are also working with a number of education sector organisations to ensure that schools and their boards are supported in complying with the regulations.

Where can I find out more information?

Work underway to replace faulty cabling and safety audits serve as a reminder to keep alert

The Ministry of Education is working alongside Energy Safety, part of Worksafe, following the notification of faulty electrical cable being supplied in NZ. It serves as a timely reminder as recent Safety Audits highlight the need to be alert around gas and electrical items in schools.

The Ministry of Education is working alongside Energy Safety, part of Worksafe, following the notification of some non-compliant faulty electrical cable being supplied in NZ.

The cable is faulty because the insulation on the cable is likely to become brittle within a few years of installation. However, Worksafe’s advice is that there is no immediate risk from the cable as it takes 2-3 years for the insulation to become brittle. The wiring was imported in July last year.

Currently the Ministry is conducting an investigation into which schools the supplier has visited since July last year when the faulty wiring was imported, and which schools may need their cabling inspected.

“Early indications are that only a very small number of schools may have been affected, and the Ministry is working closely with those schools to ensure the issue is resolved.” says The Ministry’s Head of Education Infrastructure Service, Kim Shannon.

“We will ensure that all schools (state and integrated) which may have had non-compliant electrical wiring installed are checked. Where non-compliant electrical wiring is found, we will work with the schools concerned to have it replaced.”

“Health and safety in schools is a top priority for the Ministry, and while there is not considered to be any immediate risk to the affected schools, we are taking this matter very seriously.” says Ms Shannon.

While the cabling poses no immediate threat, common findings from Energy Safety’s school audit programme identified some common errors being made when it comes to electrical and gas safety in schools, which if left unaddressed could be a safety threat.

These include:

  • Many switchboards having missing or broken protective covers increasing the risk of electric shock
  • Double adaptors and multi boxes being used as a long term solution for connection issues. Overloading of these items is a major cause of electrical fires, especially if they are used for appliances like heaters, jugs and fridges.
  • Cords pose a real tripping hazard with damaged cords being an immediate safety risk.
  • Items of flammable material being on or too close to heaters.

Other common issues are highlighted in this helpful fact sheet [PDF; 275KB] (external link) aimed at keeping schools safe through being vigilant around electrical and gas installations and appliances.

All electrical work in schools must comply with the Ministry’s electrical installation standard and the Australian/New Zealand Wiring Rules. More information can be found on electrical work in schools on the Ministry’s website.

If you have any further questions or concerns regarding non-compliant wiring from electrical work completed at your school, please contact Energy Safety or email Kimbal.McHugo@education.govt.nz

Entertainment Rides at School Fairs and Galas

Under the current Amusement Device Regulations, an amusement device is any mechanically-powered unit that is used for rider entertainment. For example, mini-jeeps or a merry-go-round are amusement devices. Any device that meets the criteria of an Amusement Device must be registered as such. It is the responsibility of the device owner to register it with WorkSafe New Zealand after it has been certified by a chartered professional engineer. The regulations also require the owner of the amusement device to obtain a permit to operate from the local authority.

What this means for school principals and boards, as a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU), is they have a duty to ensure that any equipment being used at the fair is safely operated.

The easiest way to ensure amusement devices are compliant is to use an operator that can demonstrate that they have registered the device and have a permit from the local authority.

If you are unsure please email queries relating to registration of amusement devices to: amusementdeviceregistration@worksafe.govt.nz

It is important to note that there are other devices, such as bouncy castles, that are not covered by the amusement device regulations. The WorkSafe website has great advice about the safe operation of large land-borne inflatable devices (external link) .

Health and safety resources launched

We’ve launched these resources to support schools and early childhood education services meet their health and safety requirements.

Health and safety waivers

October 2016

We’ve updated EOTC sample form 15 Agreement between school and provider [DOC, 89 KB] to support schools that may have been asked to sign a liability waiver by a provider. Signing a liability waiver does not absolve a provider of their health and safety duties, including any liability in the event of an incident or near miss under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

The Act clearly states no organisation (including schools, camp providers, government agencies etc) can contract out of its legal responsibilities and asking for waivers which have an unclear purpose or the effect is not appropriate.

We expect all organisations that provide services to the education sector to be responsible and compliant with regard to their own obligations and to work collaboratively where these overlap or are shared. In short where there are overlapping responsibilities this means all groups need to work together – cooperate, coordinate and consult.

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