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responding to the heatwave

21 June 2017

The recent heatwave has caused challenges for staff and pupils alike. What duties do schools have to protect them from excessive heat?

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 states that employers should protect their employees against excessive working temperatures and Regulation 7 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 requires employers to ensure that temperatures are reasonable.   

Schools also owe a common law duty of care to staff and pupils and may be negligent if they breach that duty in action or omission and harm is caused as a result.  Schools are expected to take reasonable care to safeguard staff and pupils from harm, including any harm which may be caused by exposure to high temperatures. 

Some schools will set out guidelines in their health and safety policy, wellbeing guidelines or in bespoke procedures covering action to be taken by staff and pupils during periods of excessive temperatures. Others will adopt a more pragmatic approach, and should give advice to staff, parents and pupils when such circumstances arise. This might include relaxation of school uniform or staff dress code standards, changing PE class activities or reallocation of classes to cooler areas where possible.

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