21 December 2009

Safety in schools

Interesting news on the safety front this morning. Orewa College, north of Auckland, is going to be charged under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 over the death of their caretaker and serious harm to a contractor following a boiler explosion earlier this year.

Schools and boards of trustees have appeared to think that the Act doesn’t apply to them. When my husband was teaching, we were both absolutely appalled at the working conditions of the teaching and support staff in the various schools he worked in. When I raised issues with the Act, senior staff said plainly that “We’re governed by the Ministry of Education and the Education Act. The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 doesn’t apply to us.” This is complete rubbish – they are a workplace and so the Act does apply, and it is good to see that the Department of Labour is going to finally force the issue with schools. Maybe this might mean some proper hazard identification and controls!

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