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Balustrades and handrails – boosting safety in schools

Balustrades and handrails – boosting safety in schools

According to the Health and Safety Executive, 55% of all accidents in educational settings are caused by a slip or a trip.

Unsurprising then, that falls are one of the biggest safety concerns for schools.

Naturally busy environments, staff and students rush from class to class, corridors are busy, excitement levels are high. And that’s all before you even consider the fact that the floor is often littered with hazards – spilt drinks, abandoned snack packets, bags, debris trodden in from outside, the list goes on.

From nurseries with very young children unsteady on their legs, right through to the hustle and bustle of primary schools, high schools and further education settings, the welfare of those attending is a top priority. So if you’re looking to make safety improvements, what better place to start than by taking a closer look at the key footfall areas – stairs, steps, walkways and ramps?

Solutions to help prevent slips or falls in schools

To reduce the number of accidents it can help to put a proper plan in place.

You need to:

•      Raise awareness

It’s essential to raise awareness to ensure everyone understands how to prevent accidents from occurring. This includes readily providing access to information on how to prevent slips and trips, and introduce a safety policy – one that actively involves staff and students.

•      Carry out a risk assessment

Carry out inspections (regularly!) to identify potential problem areas. Key things to look out for, include:

  • Are handrails available everywhere there are steps or ramps?
  • Is the handrail easy to reach and use?
  • Is a handrail available on both sides of the walkway?
  • Are raised levels protected with balustrades?
  • Are balustrades the correct height?
  • Is the floor slippery? If so why, and what can be done about it?
  • Is rushing causing a problem?
  • Do students or staff have too much to carry between lessons, preventing them from spotting hazards?

It’s a good idea to get pupils involved in identifying hazardous areas too. They could even design posters to place in corridors and near stairways to help highlight the issue.

•      Make improvements

Once a potential problem is identified – sort it.  The sooner you take action the sooner you lower the risk of an accident occurring.

•      Monitor the situation

The school environment is constantly changing so it’s important to continually monitor the situation. Are the changes you’ve made helping? If not, why not? And what else could you do?

4 improvements to prevent slips and falls in school

1. Enhance handrails

Offering users support and guidance, handrails are crucial in a school setting. It’s important to have continuous handrails – on both sides of the stairs and on landings. The DCSF (Department for Children, Schools and Families) also recommends that a second rail (at a lower height) is fitted where possible.

A handrail is not legally required for less than 3 steps – but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea to fit one, especially if you’re looking for maximum safety.

2. Use glass balustrades

Whether a setting with young children able to squeeze through small gaps, or a school with older more boisterous students, glass balustrades are an excellent choice.

Not only do they look smart and modern, but they also offer a fully protective barrier with no dangerous gaps or footholds that could encourage climbing.

They are also highly durable, easy to keep clean and tough to vandalise.  

3. Improve stairways

Are stairs well-worn and uneven from heavy footfall? Are they slippery too? Adding step covers is an effective – and relatively easy – solution. They can be fitted to the surface of virtually any step and are a great way to level the surface and increase grip underfoot.

4. Add a canopy

On wet days do students come dripping to class leaving behind them a hazardous trail of water? Combat this by providing more outside shelter – particularly at key entrances. Not only does a canopy increase students’ protection but it also offers an outside space to shake off wet umbrellas and coats before moving indoors.


Create a safer school this September with Square 1 Balustrades

To find out how your school or college could benefit from improved balustrades or handrails, get in touch with Square 1 Balustrades today.

As premier providers of innovative, high-quality balustrade systems, we are here to help. Whether you’re looking for balustrades, handrails, or canopies we can offer expert advice and guidance to ensure your school meets – and exceeds – all the current regulations and safety standards.

To find out more about what we do, talk to the team on 01489 583371 or fill in our enquiry form and we’ll be back in touch soon.


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