Governing board's role in health and safety

As a governing board, you have responsibility for overseeing health and safety in your school. Learn more about what responsibilities you have and how to effectively delegate those duties.

Last reviewed on 23 August 2023
School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 4568
  1. Legal responsibility
  2. Oversight responsibility
  3. Most boards delegate oversight responsibility 

The following information can be found in non-statutory advice on health and safety for schools from the Department for Education (DfE) and in guidance on the role of school leaders from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Legal responsibility

Legal responsibility for health and safety lies with the employer of the school. Having legal responsibility means having the responsibility for identifying and managing risks. It also means assuming liability for health and safety matters.

If the governing board is the employer, then it would be the defendant in any law suit against the school. A suit would be against the board as a corporate body, not against individuals. It would be very unusual for an individual governor to be personally liable for health and safety, as long as they'd acted "honestly, reasonably and in good faith". This is explained on page 47 of the Governance Handbook.

Local authority (LA) Governing board Academy