A review of the school management system for occupational health, safety and wellbeing is currently underway in 2022/2023. Your thoughts and feedback are invaluable. Please visit the consultation (staff login required) for more information, including policy documents currently available for your feedback. For all recent changes to health, safety and wellbeing related policies and procedures, please refer to the Recently updated PAL topics page.
Send us your feedback and ideas: Does a health, safety and wellbeing requirement, process or document confuse you? Do you have suggestions on process improvements? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
This topic aims to provide a clear overview of policies, procedures and guidance materials available to support schools to manage the health, safety and wellbeing of staff, contractors, volunteers and visitors in schools. Together these policies, procedures and guidance materials constitute the department’s occupational health and safety management system.
- Schools are required to implement the department’s management system for occupational health, safety and wellbeing (the OHS management system).
- The Guidance tab contains information about expert support to help schools implement the OHS management system (including school-based health and safety representatives) and procedures for reporting and managing incidents, hazards and near-misses.
- Schools can refer to the Resources tab for further news, alerts and events for health, safety and wellbeing.
The OHS management system is a set of policies, procedures and guidance materials that support schools to manage their health and safety obligations and maintain a safe and healthy working environment.
Schools are required to implement the OHS management system, which includes 4 key sections:
- Building and maintaining a health, safety and wellbeing culture
- Managing hazards
- Managing incidents and emergencies
- Review and ongoing improvement
At the centre of these sections is the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Policy, which is the department’s overarching leadership commitment to support, promote and protect the health, safety and wellbeing of all employees, visitors, volunteers and contractors.
The diagram below represents the 4 sections and their connection to the department’s health, safety and wellbeing policy.
These sections each contain a set of policies, procedures and guidance that schools are required to follow in order to effectively manage occupational health, safety and wellbeing. For more information on the topics that fall within them, click on the headings below.
Note: schools can also access an A to Z list of all occupational health, safety and wellbeing policies and included in the system if preferred.
To effectively manage occupational health, safety and wellbeing in the school, this section focuses on the principal’s need to create solid foundations that support a positive culture and build strong capability. The local leadership of staff health, safety and wellbeing is crucial to support safe learning environments for students and the health, safety and wellbeing of all school staff, including visitors, volunteers and contractors. Staying healthy, safe and well benefits everyone through skilful teamwork, innovative collaboration, higher job satisfaction, improved confidence and stronger engagement.
The following policies and procedures support schools to build and maintain a health, safety and wellbeing workplace culture
Planning and leadership
Emergency management planning
Culture and capability
This section focuses on establishing a robust structure to manage hazards, ensuring all health, safety and wellbeing risks in the school workplace are identified and appropriately managed. Managing hazards is a continuous process to ensure our schools are safe. The hazard management process involves identifying problems in the school, gathering information, and solving the issues by putting controls in place. Consultation and delegation are important aspects of this hazard management process.
The following policies and procedures support schools to manage workplace hazards.
Buildings and grounds
Slips, trips and falls prevention
Playgrounds and classroom equipment safety
- Plant and Equipment Management
- Equipment Isolation and Tag Out
- Testing and Tagging of Electrical Equipment
- Safety for Visual and Performing Arts
- Swimming Pools on School Grounds
- Environmental Hygiene
- Ventilation and Air Purification
- Cooling Towers
- Water – Private Drinking Water
- Essential Safety Measures
Practices and people
Mental health and wellbeing
- Mental Health and Wellbeing – Employees
- Workplace Bullying
- Workplace Contact Officer Network
- Principal Health and Wellbeing
Work-related violence prevention
- Work-Related Violence in Schools
- Restraint and Seclusion
- CCTV in Schools – Installation and Management
Physical health and wellbeing
- Ergonomics and Workspace
- Manual Handling
- Mobility Assistance
- Noise Management
- Voice Care for Teachers
Off-site work and outdoor work
- Working Alone, in Isolation or from Home
- Work-Related Driving
- Outdoor Activities and Working Outdoors
- Sun and UV Protection
- Physical and Sport Education – Safety
- Air Quality – Impact of Smoke on Health
- Traffic Management
Contractors and volunteers
At times, incidents and emergencies occur within a school. This section provides schools with information on how to respond when such situations occur, including how to assist injured staff to recover well and return to work or stay at work with support.
The following policies and procedures support schools to manage workplace health, safety and wellbeing incidents and emergencies.
First aid and infection control
- First Aid for Students and Staff
- Blood Spills and Open Wounds Management
- Syringe Disposals and Injuries
- Blood-borne Viruses
- Infectious Diseases
- COVID-19 – Health, Wellbeing and Inclusion Workforces
- COVID-19 – School Operations
Incident reporting and actions
Supporting injured staff
Effective management of occupational health, safety and wellbeing involves the ongoing practice of reviewing how work is done and making improvements. It is important for school leaders to know the safety needs and drivers at their school, and consider data sources to inform their health, safety and wellbeing improvement. This approach helps schools to understand what’s working well, and to identify opportunities for growth and improvement.
Schools can review the following data sources to inform improvement areas:
- eduSafe Plus incident data (looking at hazards, incidents and near misses) – refer to the eduSafe Plus – report and manage incidents, hazards and near misses chapter
- School Staff Survey results
- feedback from staff about the culture, ideas for improvement and so on (this can be done through one-on-one or group conversations).
Other strategies that schools can use to review and make improvements in their local context include:
- reviewing the health and safety events and alerts information outlined in the Resources tab to ensure your school is up to date with the latest information regarding workplace hazards
- effectively consulting and communicating with all school staff, including any health and safety representatives – refer to the OHS Consultation and Communication Policy and Procedure for further information.
Implementing and embedding the management system
Implementing the OHS management system within schools is important to:
- provide a safe and healthy workplace
- prevent or reduce the incidence of illness and injury to employees, volunteers, visitors and contractors
- identify workplace hazards, assess and control risks
- ensure principals, delegates, employees and their representatives work together on health and safety matters
- provide information and training for employees at all levels so they can work safely measure and continuously improve the way health, safety and wellbeing is managed.
eduSafe Plus is the online portal for reporting and managing occupational health, safety and wellbeing. eduSafe Plus allows the management of all incidents, hazards and sick bay/first aid activity and OHS Assurance Program actions. Reporting on eduSafe Plus also supports the department to track health, safety and wellbeing trends across the system, and allows the department, as an employer, to provide further supports and guidance around emerging issues.
To learn more about how this system supports your school, refer to the eduSafe Plus – report and manage incidents, hazards and near misses chapter.
OHS Assurance Program
The OHS Assurance Program provides proactive support to confirm schools are implementing the system to manage health, safety and wellbeing. Refer to the Reviewing health and safety processes – OHS Assurance Program below for more information.
Department strategies and frameworks
- The Safe and Well in Education Strategy outlines a 5-year roadmap for the department to systematically enhance and support health, safety and wellbeing outcomes for all of its employees. This includes new intensive supports for schools to manage OHS and workers compensation.
- The Safe and Well in Education Framework works in conjunction with the strategy to assist everyone at the department understand their health, safety and wellbeing accountabilities and responsibilities, and the supports available to acquit those, to ultimately improve the performance of Victorian government schools.
Reviewing health and safety processes – OHS Assurance Program
The OHS Assurance Program provides proactive support to confirm schools are implementing the OHS management system to manage health, safety and wellbeing, consistent with the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic). It is a supportive assessment of each school’s safety management practices.
The program enables schools to:
- manage key occupational health, safety and wellbeing matters
- review current safety systems of work
- identify opportunities to improve safety management
- verify that they are providing healthy and safe workplaces.
Information on the OHS Assurance Program, including the OHS Assurance Program school assessment guide and fact sheet is available at: Audits, Reviews and Assurance Programs in Schools.
For the full list of health and safety terms and definitions refer to: Defined health and safety terms in the Guidance tab.
- Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
- Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017
- Compliance as set out by WorkSafe Victoria
- Further information on the Occupational health and safety laws and are available on the WorkSafe website
Department policy on Employee Health, Safety and Wellbeing and an overview of the Department's OHS Management System (OHSMS)
Reviewed 27 March 2023