On Monday 21st September 2015, BBC’s The One Show broadcast an article highlighting the provision of defibrillators in schools. The article featured Mark King from the Oliver King Foundation, who has been fighting to raise awareness of Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS) since his son Oliver passed away from the condition in March 2011, aged 12.

Oliver King attended King David Primary school and was a keen sportsman who excelled in football, swimming, athletics and many other sports. Oliver passed suddenly from SADS after a school swimming lesson. Mark King believes that his son would have survived had there been a defibrillator available at the swimming pool and has led a campaign to equip schools in the North West with their own kits.

SADS usually affects people between the ages of 12 and 35 and the warning signs include fainting or seizure during exercise or excitement, consistent or unusual chest pain and/or shortness of breath during exercise. The Government recognises that 12 young people each week die from SADS, but it is believed that the true figure is around 16-19 people each week and could be higher as the condition is often misdiagnosed. Despite this, there is no legal requirement for schools to have access to a defibrillator, which could save many lives, provided that it is used in a timely fashion.

What is a defibrillator? Continue reading

North Lincolnshire Council has been fined after a man died when his car was struck by a swing barrier in a car park at Foxhills sports ground in Scunthorpe. Andrew Matthews, aged 51, was hit by the horizontal end section of the barrier that had not been secured after being opened previously. North Lincolnshire Council was fined a total of £160,000 and ordered to pay £40,476 in costs after pleading guilty to an offence under Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

HSE Principal Inspector Chris Gallagher said of the case: “The tragic loss of Mr. Matthew’s life was a horrific incident that could so easily have been avoided. The barrier should have been secured whilst it was open so that it could not swing into his path in such a way that he was unable to see it as he drove towards it.”

“A significant number of people have been killed or injured in incidents involving horizontal swing barriers in car parks. Duty holders should carry out a suitable risk assessment so that potential dangers are identified and suitable precautions are put in place.”

Two recent, separate, incidents involving powered gates led to the tragic deaths of young children and highlighted the risks of using automatic vehicle access gates as well as other powered access gates. If you own an electric gate you have a duty of care to ensure that the gate is safe and that any users of the gate can operate it safely. If an accident did occur, the owner of the gate would be liable as the operator of a defective machine.

The HSE has prepared the following notice showing what steps to take to ensure the safe installation and subsequent maintenance of powered gates.

  • You need the right test equipment to measure closing/opening forces. If you do not have this equipment, you can’t be sure that the gates meet safety standards, then do not install them.
  • When they are opening and closing, the force of the gates should be limited to those in the British/European standards. The gates should also reverse if they hit someone or something.
  • The gates should have sensors that can stop them if someone has been detected. This could be light beams (photoelectric devices), which stop the gates before they reach an obstacle.
  • If there are parts of the gates where someone could become trapped or get crushed while it is moving, these need be protected. People could get injured, for example, as the bars of the gates pass the gate post.
  • The gates must have an emergency release mechanism in case someone gets trapped.
  • When you have installed the gates safely – and met all of the relevant safety requirements – you should apply a CE Mark, so people can be confident the job has been done properly.
  • You must also keep details of the installation, and of any tests, in a technical file.
  • Another important consideration, especially when operating/maintaining automatic gates in schools, is that emergency arrangements are in place to release someone should a crushing, shearing or drawing-in incident occur. Many automatic gates have a “release key and lever” system to disconnect the drive from the gate and allow it to be moved manually. In such cases it is critical to ensure that release keys and instructions for use are readily available to all authorized users of the gate.

    For more on the safe use and maintenance of powered gates, contact Handsam for further details and guidance. Handsam specialize in managing all aspects of health and safety in the education sector and work with schools to produce bespoke strategies and procedures that can help to ensure schools are meeting all legislative requirements. You can contact Handsam by calling 03332 070737 or emailing info@handsam.co.uk. You can now also find Handsam on twitter @handsamltd.

    Further reading: http://www.hse.gov.uk/safetybulletins/electricgates2.htm

    “Financial irregularity” is the term being used for allegations made against academies and free schools with alarming regularity over the last three years regarding their compliance with the strict financial codes of conduct and indeed laws which govern them.

    Since 2013 there have been 58 allegations made against schools that The Department for Education (DfE) refuses to name. Several of these have resulted in high profile Notices to Improve being issued to Academy Trusts, many of which have hit the press and caused embarrassment and uncertainty. Often those Trusts have also had their growth plans put on hold or even been forced to shed academies as a result of non-compliance. It is not the kind of problem or PR any organisation needs.

    The news comes as the DfE released figures relating to budget which resulted in a call for an ‘urgent examination of accountability’ in the system. With free schools opening more regularly than ever, (252 already open with 98 more confirmed to be on the way and plans for up to another 500 in the offing) even more allegations could be on the way in the upcoming years unless due diligence is followed.

    A DfE spokesman talking to the Observer said “Academies operate under a strict system of oversight and accountability – more robust than in council-run schools — ensuring any issues are identified quickly and we can take swift action. The Education Funding Agency keeps a close eye on academy finances and is well-placed to intervene on the rare occasions it is needed. “

    However, the number of Notices to Improve handed out by the EFA on the department’s behalf indicates there is still a problem which many Trusts are simply not addressing.

    Speaking to the Observer, Labour MP Gareth Thomas, a former teacher, called the research “deeply worrying” and says the system in place needs to be urgently reviewed.

    “These figures reveal a disturbing lack of proper controls and underline the continuing concerns about the lack of accountability of free schools and academies. A tough audit regime is now overdue to ensure the taxpayer gets value for money and standards of these schools are raised.”

    It grows ever more important to track, manage and evidence all aspects of work carried out within them, especially when it comes to budget allocation across multiple school run from a central hub. For this reason it is vital to use tools that support cloud-based operation. Handsam are here to help you prove compliance, produce diligent audit trails and evidence adherence to the regulations across all of your sites, no matter what the size of your trust is. It really could not be simpler.

    Using Handsam’s online systems for Governance all necessary actions are prompted and then tracked within the Handsam Cloud automatically. Should you ever need to, you can recall documents and a record of activity (who did what and when) within seconds, no matter where you are accessing them from. The system also allows you to run exception reports and to rank your academies according to performance in key areas, allowing you to reward good performers and intervene at an early stage in those who need support.

    For more on the Handsam Governance system, please visit Handsam.co.uk or contact one of our friendly team by emailing info@handsam.co.uk or phoning 03332 070737. You can now also contact our team on twitter @handsamltd.