This article sets out some of the background some and examples of prosecutions and litigation against UK schools. Whilst Scottish Law and its Legal System differs Industrial Safety Belt from that in England and Wales the writ of the enforcing and regulating body the Health and Safety Executive(HSE) runs across the border and matters are decided in the Criminal Courts. Litigation takes place in the Civil Courts and, in the case of Health and Safety usually revolves around aspects of the LEA. Owner, school and teachers duty of care to children. Almost all of these cases are civil actions taken by parents on behalf of the child for damages for injuries subsequent to accidents.
Prosecutions:The Health and Safety Commission is the actual agency of which HSE is the executive branch have published an Enforcement Policy which sets out very clearly the parameters for, and circumstances in, which the HSE should take action to enforce the Health and Safety Law and Regulations. Enforcement of H&S law in the past targeted Directors and Company Secretaries and clearly this had a business and commercial bias. The current HSC Enforcement Policy appears to be targeting enforcement action against managers as well as Directors and now seems to be focused on both the public and private sectors equally. This is also clarified in the Guidance to the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations which talks about organisations being schools, colleges, voluntary bodies, councils etc.as well as companies.
Personal liability to prosecutions under the safety law has been extended to person who exercise a similar role to directors and company secretaries. This would certainly include Heads as the CEO of their schools but could also be interpreted to mean Directors/Assistant Directors, or those persons in the school employers organization directing and organising the H&S function. In short any person or any organisation can be liable to prosecution under H&S laws and regulations for a range of offences. Staff, or others can be liable for putting the health and safety of others at risk by acting negligently or interfering with safety equipment.
Others can be liable for advising or conniving to promote unsafe acts. However,the main area where a cold chill runs down the spine for teachers and schools is the potential for a child to be killed and a manslaughter charge to be brought. Three points here are worth considering:1. All the manslaughter charges so far made have been on the basis of gross negligence.