Frequently asked questions

Common questions about health and safety in schools.


Do we have to do an asbestos check every time we undertake building work on our site?

Yes - unless your site was built after 1990, you will need to have the areas checked out for asbestos type materials if you are about to damage the fabric of the building. This needs to be done before work starts. Asbestos-based materials were used extensively in our establishments before the nineties.

Electrical testing

Do I have to test electrical appliances?

Yes. Mandatory testing of the main electrical system is required at 5 yearly intervals, together with portable electrical appliances being tested on an annual basis.

First aid container contents

Can you tell me what should be stored in my First Aid containers?

Yes. All contents should be appropriate for the circumstances in which they are used.

First aid off-site

Do teachers or support staff need a valid first aid certificate if they are taking pupils off site?

Yes. As medical help may not be easily accessible at least one adult in the group will need, as a minimum a valid ‘Appointed Person’ Certificate (recognised by the Health and Safety Executive.) This certificate is valid for 3 years. NB. A special 6-hour course Emergency Aid in Schools covers the requirement of the Appointed Person.

Head Lice problems

Can I exclude pupils with head lice as they may infect others in my school?

No. Treatment is recommended only in cases where lice have definitely been seen.

How to use school halls for concerts etc. safely


When a school hall is used for a school-based production such as a carol concert, there are guidelines for safe numbers which are;

Half a square metre per person closed seating or standing, one square metre per person - restaurant type tables.

Good Practice:

As a general rule it is good practice to leave a metre gap all around the outside of the hall, and a one metre wide gap in the middle, to ensure good emergency access, and to check that all fire exits are operable.

Other factors that need to be considered are access and egress for wheelchair users and persons with limited mobility.

If a school has a public entertainment licence, (only likely if the school hall is let out on a regular basis, such as for theatre groups, who make admission charges to the public), the licence will detail the maximum number of persons allowed in the hall, together with other requirements, such as fire exits, signage, emergency lighting etc.

If you want any further information please contact:

The Health, Safety & Wellbeing Team on 03300 240849.


Can pupils wear watches, rings, earrings, necklaces etc when doing PE/swimming activities?

No. The wearing of jewellery during physical activities can constitute a hazard to the wearer and others. All such items should be removed before undertaking physical education activities. Where personal adornments cannot be removed for specific valid reason it must be made ‘safe’ i.e. covered, where this cannot be achieved exclusion from the activities will be necessary.