The HSE recently reported that in July 2015 a gas servicing firm had been prosecuted for safety failings after an explosion in the boiler room of a local primary school.

The explosion, which happened (luckily) the day before children returned to an Academy after the summer holidays, blew out the boiler house door toward a paved area and the school playing field. Fortunately there were no injuries.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was notified and discovered that the firm had been on site the same day to service three boilers and other gas appliances, and had held a contract to carry out annual inspections and services there for at least ten years.

After investigating, HSE prosecuted the company finding that despite the servicing contract, the boiler showed all the classic signs of poor maintenance, including excessive rust and debris, and had become increasingly dangerous.

The company was fined £13,000 and ordered to pay £35,699 in costs after admitting a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

An HSE inspector pointed out that it was an entirely preventable incident. It was pure luck no children were around at the time as the boiler house was close to the school playing field and access routes for staff and pupils alike.

The inspector said that the company had displayed a reckless disregard for the safety of the community, and these young children in particular, and the outcome could have been far worse.

“All companies who carry out gas work must comply with their legal duties and responsibilities. Experience has shown that some operating in the gas sector are prepared to breach regulations by undertaking gas work while not on the statutory register and without the necessary competency.

There are also instances of registered engineers operating outside the scope of their competency.’’ Continue reading

A heating engineering firm in Stockport were sentenced after two of its engineers were exposed to asbestos while working in a school.  Schools are notoriously bad for containing asbestos; almost all of the schools built or refurbished between 1945 and 1975 contain asbestos, asbestos lagging, sprayed asbestos or asbestos insulating board; all of which can release dangerous fibres.

Trafford Magistrates Court heard the engineering firm were contracted to replace boilers in the boiler room of the school. This resulted in two of their gas engineers being exposed to asbestos when they took the side panels off boilers which had asbestos insulation on the boiler casing.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching several regulations of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and was fined £4,000 for each breach with a further £3,517 in costs.

A HSE inspector said after the hearing:  “Asbestos is the greatest cause of work related deaths in the UK with over 4,000 deaths arising from past exposure.

“Contractors have a duty to ensure they protect their workers from the risk of exposure to asbestos and must properly plan any work which is likely to disturb it. 

“In this case, Flueclean Installations Services Limited failed to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment which if they had would have clearly identified that the work should have been carried out by a licensed asbestos contractor. As a result of this failing, two of their operatives were exposed to asbestos.” 

Handsam offer a variety of services to aid schools that may be concerned about asbestos. This includes an in-depth E-Training video covering the dangers and facts around asbestos, important asbestos guidance in our Quick Guides library and an example policy for managing asbestos as part of our policy writing service.

For more information on the E-Training centre, our comprehensive Quick Guides Library or our Policy writing services, please contact Handsam by calling 03332 070737 or emailing us at You can now also follow us on twitter @handsamltd to get up to the minute info on health and safety within the education sector, as well as the latest updates and offers pertaining to the Handsam system.


German expat banker Arnold Holle has raised concerns about the quality of English public schools after spending around “7 figures” to send his four children to expensive schools in Britain. Holle has called Britain’s expensive boarding schools disappointing, claiming that “appearances are deceptive.” and that children learn the same level of education in his country for free.

“It is said time and time again, how paradisaical and in every respect advantageous English boarding schools are,” he was quoted in an article for German newspaper the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

“But appearances are deceptive: even at the top English boarding schools, children don’t learn more than in Germany, probably less. Not everything that glitters is gold, not by a long shot.”

Average costs for sending a child to boarding school are now at roughly £468,000, up from £435,000 last year, while for day schools the total has risen from £271,000 to £286,000. For parents sending two children to boarding school from the age of 13, the cost is estimated to be around £890,000.

“Learning less and paying a lot is one thing,” Holle said. “Much worse, however, is that even a short stay in an English boarding school will lead to children losing any respect for money. All in all, no other Western country makes it more difficult for its underclass to rise upwards.”

Private schools have also come under fire from BBC presenter Gary Lineker lately, saying that private schools are ‘entirely selfish’ if they don’t open fields to state-educated children. Continue reading