Health and safety responsibilities owed by school employers

COVID-19 is having a immense impact on all our working lives. UNISON plays a vital role in keeping workplaces safer, and keeping members informed of their rights.

Schools have legal responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of all employees and to ensure other persons, not in their employment, are not exposed to a risk to their health and safety.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 requires employers to undertake a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to health and safety of employees and others, such as pupils and parents, affected by the conduct of the employer’s undertaking. The Regulations also require the risk assessment to identify the measures necessary to comply with the statutory duties owed by the employer. Where the employer implements such measures, the primary duty is to avoid risks or combat the risks at source. The duties also include having appropriate procedures in place in the event of a serious and imminent danger.

Further, the relevant statutory provisions include the following:


  • Under the 1999 Regulations, any risk assessment shall be reviewed by the employer or self-employed person who made it, if there has been a significant change in the matters to which it relates;
  • In addition, the employer owes a duty to inform and consult with safety representatives. Under the Safety Representative and Safety Committee Regulations 1977 (recognised unions) and the similar regulations applying where unions are not recognised, every
    employer shall consult safety representatives in good time with regard to the introduction of any measure at the workplace which may substantially affect the health and safety of the employees the safety representatives concerned represent.


Health and Safety at work is a major issue for all employees. Work
places that have trade union Health and Safety reps have a significantly lower rate of accidents.

UNISON Health & Safety representatives in schools have an important role and have the statutory provision to support them.

If you want to undergo FREE training to become a UNISON Health & Safety Workplace Representative the first step is to complete the Nomination Form and email it to the branch asap. Your Proposer and Seconder should be UNISON members. If you have any problems, please contact the branch.

The Annual General Meeting (AGM) 2021 is the formal meeting to accept any nominations and from there, we will write to your employer to notify them of the nomination and arrange release for training.

The first stage of Health & Safety training begins at Stage 1 but will take your studies through to Diploma level if you want to continue with your certification.

The next Trade Union Congress (TUC) course is in May 2021 and will run for 7 weeks online and then students are required to attend the classroom for 3 days to ensure they meet the full course criteria (days to be arrange, pending restrictions being lifted).

COVID-19 has reminded us of how important Health & Safety is at work.

We encourage you to become part of the solution and put your name forward to represent your school members and have a right to be part of the consultation processes.

You can find the nomination form using the button below.

Nomination Form

The branch office phones are continually ringing, so we would advise you to use the internet to contact the office with your concerns. The branch staff will forward your details to the appropriate person who will be able to provide advice.