School Fair Safety

by Dave Collins on May 13, 2016

in Road Safety

School Fete Safety

I got an email from a reader overnight and it really concerned me. Schools have a huge responsibility in regards to student safety and from what I have seen, generally take this responsibility very seriously and professionally. However, some of the stuff I have seen come come from my kids school lately seems to be a bit over the top. I could go on forever about how sad it is that peanut butter sandwiches and monkey bars are banned etc and understand that kids are much more precious these days and need to be protected from themselves and not have the same learning experiences and adventures that we did as kids. BUT, we have written about safety overkill many times in the past and I think this may be a concerning outcome of that. Are we so focused on micro managing safety and risk that we totally lose sight of or forget about the things that are really going to cause us big time grief, particularly when they aren’t part of normal day to day operations???? It is incredulous that the planning for an event such as this didn’t include traffic management plans, strict rules for stall holders/operators and constant supervision/intervention by trained Safety Officers??????? Here is the letter, what is your advice to the reader?

“Safety concerns – I wonder when we see things unsafe in the community what we can do?. I mean often the best and only thing we can do is witness it. The thing is, sometimes it is a thought like: “oh that is a problem waiting to happen”. I was at my daughter’s school fete today and some of the working participants were leaving and drove their vehicle through the busiest area of the fete with little care. Of course the vehicles were going slow, which is the least they can do, however, no other precautionary measures were taken. It was dark and people everywhere and then vehicles were trying to leave. This kind of operation is never safe…a vehicle driving and clearing the crowds as the car approaches people. If safe measures were being taken the vehicle would have left before dark, have had escorts and cleared a safe and visibly marked path. And preferably this path is in the least busy part of the venue. I was shocked that this was able to happen. This is at a fete that is held every year and is professionally run. A lot of money is made at these events, but if safety isn’t the first priority then it isn’t worth it.”

  • les cameron

    I have attended an incident at a school fete, thankfully no injuries on that occassion and there is always someone who has a duty of care as someone takes the money – it is a question of making enough enquiries to find the correct duty holder. If the issue was in Victoria I would suggest readers contact WorkSafe who have an emergency response service that may deal with his type of issue. Other states may have the same service. For contact details go to WorkSafe’s (Victoria) website.

    Regards Les

  • Les Henley

    My advice to the reader is that the school principle needs to take responsibility as the person in control of the ‘workplace’.
    If the venue is under the new harmonised legislation (the Act) in Australia, the shool would be a PCBU. In this instance, even if the fete is run entirely by volunteers (deemed ‘workers’ under the Act) the PCBU has a responsibility for the safety of all ‘workers’ as well as anyone (visitors/participants) who may be exposed to risk to their health and safety as a result of the fete activities.
    The principle would be an officer of the PCBU and, having given his/her permission for the fete to be run on site even if not having direct oversight of the fete operations, is responisble as the person in control. S/He needs to be satisfied that hazards such as traffic movements are idenitifed, assessed and controlled so far as is reasonbaly practicable. There is a direct requirement, at section 20, in the Act for ensuring safe means for entry and exit to the site. The situation described in the letter would indicate that this requirement is definitiely not met.
    With this information the reader is able to not just be a witness but should bring the situation and their concerns about it to the principle.
    Les Henley

    • Riskex

      Thanks Les!

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