Health and Safety on School Trips

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Of course I want my children to enjoy school trips, but I also want them to be safe. I often see reports in the press where schools claim to be unable to take children on trips or provide them with play equipment with the blame squarely put on 'health and safety' or 'insurance problems'. It seems to be the easy way out sometimes for some schools to play the health and safety card as an excuse not to carry out trips and activities which require proper assessment and preparation.

As a lawyer dealing with personal injury claims, I know that the purpose of the health and safety legislation is to give protection, and not to exclude activities just because they carry some risk of injury.

Remember the story about the children wearing goggles to play conkers? Well that was a prime example of mis-reporting as it just wasn't true.

The HSE guidance can be found on their website and their bulletin sets out more detailed information for schools and similar organisations to enable them to address the concerns that they may have about a child suffering injury and being held liable for a compensation claim. The HSE say they want "to make sure that mistaken and unfounded health and safety concerns do not create obstacles that prevent these from happening."

I applaud that wholeheartedly. Accidents will happen no matter what systems are put in place to prevent them. BUT I do expect my children to be protected from those foreseeable and preventable risks which can be involved in certain activities, and if the school fails to take reasonable steps to protect my children from those then it is right that they should be accountable for that failing.

Julia Prior

Senior Solicitor - Personal Injury team

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