Headlines: January 22nd, 2004

Schools in Sheffield, Trafford and Glasgow are piloting a campaign aimed at cutting the number of deaths and injuries caused by falls in the classroom. There have been five deaths and more than three thousand injuries in the education sector in the last six years.The Health and Safety Executive is working with the three local education authorities and has produced posters and a guidance leaflet to raise awareness of safety in the classroom and the risks to teachers and classroom assistants of suffering injury as a result of a fall from height.

Examples featured in the campaign include a teacher falling off a chair while putting material in a cupboard and another who fell while standing on a bookcase to put up a display, In a third case a classroom assistant fell from a stool placed close to a window.

The posters have been designed as a visual reminder that using equipment like tables and chairs to carry out activities at height can be dangerous. The leaflet raises awareness of accidents in the classroom and provides guidance on good practice.

The initiative is due to continue in the three pilot areas until the end of the summer term and will then be evaluated with a view to the campaign spreading across the country. It is part of the HSE’s Falls from Height Priority Programme, which aims to reduce the number of fatal and major injuries as a result of a fall from height by 5 per cent between 1999 and 2004 and by 10 per cent by 2009.

Bill Gillan, the Programme Manager, welcomed the involvement of the three education authorities. “Our statistics show that teachers and classroom assistants are at risk from this type of accident and we hope that this approach will be successful in raising awareness of the danger and reducing the number of accidents,” he said.