School inspection guidelines 

Inspection frequency: Some school administrators have no policy on school inspections but rather expect teachers, janitors, students, and administration personnel to call attention to problems as they are identified. While this may work at a rare number of schools or businesses a better policy is to have regularly scheduled inspections. The inspection frequency will vary depending on the type of school, age of the facility, size of student and faculty population. Special attention to general housekeeping and facility inspections should take place after weekend events when the buildings may be used for sporting events or non-school related activities. Late Sunday night janitorial service is a good idea after weekend activities. 

Entrance & exits: The saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” is true when it comes to school inspections. The entrance area, foyers, doors, sidewalks, parking lots and porticos should be well maintained to reduce the risk of trips, slips, and falls. Attention should be paid to lighting, floor surface, door mats, doors, windows, benches, and the entire entrance area. Often when people visit a school for the first time they are busy looking around and pay very little attention to where they are walking, curbs, and other tripping hazards. The main entrance ways to schools should be able to be entered effortlessly with little or no requirement for careful navigation. On days with precipitation wet floor signs should be posted at the entrance to the school. Someone should be present to mop up water periodically. 

Offices & common meeting rooms: Common meeting rooms are areas ripe for trip and falls for several reasons. First of all, people are not using the rooms very often so they sometimes turn into a storage room with boxes and supplies. Chairs are often stacked, electric cords run from the table to the walls and the rooms are not always on the priority cleaning schedule for janitorial services. Attention should be paid to furniture to assure it functions properly. When damaged furniture is discovered it should be removed from service. 

Gyms, auditoriums, & cafeterias: When you have rooms designed for large gatherings attention should be paid to avoiding spills. No food and drink policies for gymnasiums are a good idea for several reasons including protecting floors, reducing the chance for slip and falls, pest control and general cleanliness. Other areas to pay attention to is bleachers to make sure they are functioning properly and there are no loose bolts or planks that can cause accidents. 

Restrooms: Frequent inspections of restrooms should take place at schools to reduce the risk of slips and falls, running water, and to monitor general cleanliness. In addition to frequent inspections and following the checklist it is a good idea to post a sign on the restroom door that encourages students, faculty and staff to notify someone if the restroom is in poor condition. 

Kitchen area: Commercial kitchens are key areas for inspections due to the potential for a variety of types of losses that can result from problems in the kitchen. Loss potential including food borne illnesses, fire, water damage, lifting injuries, burns and cuts all can be significantly reduced by following kitchen inspection guidelines. There should be one person among the kitchen staff who is directly responsible to the administrator for kitchen acceptability. It is a good idea to offer incentive rewards for excellent health inspections. 

Storage rooms & hallway closets: It is surprising the number of injuries that result when a teacher or administrator is accessing a hall closet or storage room for a particular item that may have been put away during the prior semester or school year. The problem arises when storage habits are haphazard and items get stacked onto each other creating unstable loads. Additionally, rather than remove everything from the closet to find the item needed people tend to reach around the clutter, step onto stacked stuff and otherwise awkwardly contort Injuries that result from poor storage habits range from strained backs, twisted ankles, hernias, and bumps and bruises. 

Chemicals including paint, cleaning chemicals, art supplies should be stored in their own designated areas to avoid potential spills that can lead to fires and other hazards. Flammable storage cabinets are designed specifically to store hazardous or flammable chemicals and they should be located in an area away from common traffic in the school. 

General guidelines to consider: Good inspection habits serve multiple purposes at a school. The protection of students, faculty and staff from injuries is important. Inspections also reduce the risk of fires and other types of losses that can result in business interruption, damaged reputation, and declining student enrollment. 

Lesson learned: A private school art teacher was taking a week to teach students the basics of pottery. In order to protect the artwork the storage closet was rearranged to place clay structures on the shelves. Other items from the shelves needed to be moved to other areas. The shelving above the electric kiln appeared to be ideal for the plastic cups. 

On a Friday afternoon the kiln was started about the time school was dismissed. The heat from the kiln caused a shift of items stacked on the shelf above the kiln. Plastic cups fell onto the kiln and began to melt. The heat generated from the melting plastic set off the fire sprinkler system directly above the kiln. No fire actually resulted but the sprinkler system began running and it took approximately 40 minutes until someone arrived to shut it down. The water from the system flowed onto the nearby gym floor ruining the wood floor just one week prior to basketball homecoming. The final estimated claim cost was approximately $38,000. Attention to good storage habits can prevent this type of loss.


The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as all encompassing, or suitable for all situations, conditions, and environments. Please contact us or your attorney if you have any questions.

For safety or risk management questions or suggestions, please contact Markel.

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