Outdoor Activities

Outdoor activities can present a range of safety hazards that can lead to injury / illness to staff, students and volunteers. Hazards associated with outdoor activities could occur in the following situations:

  • Scheduled breaks (i.e. lunchtime or recess)
  • Outdoor lessons (e.g. physical education, science)
  • During student supervision (e.g. during recess)
  • Excursions to other schools, workplaces or public areas
  • Camping trips
  • Outdoor sports and games (e.g. sports carnivals, swimming lessons)
  • School fetes or other fundraisers
  • Working bees and general maintenance
  • General play
  • Social outings
  • Work placements

There may be employees at your school who are required to work outdoors for extended periods of time (e.g. maintenance workers, PE teachers etc.). These employees are not only exposed to extremes in weather conditions, but also to UV radiation on a daily basis.

Actions to be taken

School leaders have a legal obligation to identify hazards associated with outdoor activities in the school, one method is by conducting a risk assessment (see Resources below). This needs to be undertaken in consultation with employees and /  or health and safety representatives.

Part of the risk assessment process will be identifying and implementing suitable risk controls, some examples of risk controls are:

  • Develop internal policies or procedures as required (e.g. wet day timetables, SunSmart UV policy, Hot / Wet Weather Policy etc.)
  • Review traffic and pedestrian management plans
  • Staff to wear personal protective equipment such as hats, sunscreen etc.
  • Provide information and training to employees who may be exposed to:
    • Extreme hot or cold temperatures (e.g. working with plant, walk-in freezer rooms etc.)
    • UV (e.g. through education program or online training)
    • Animal or insect bites
    • Poisonous plants
    • Adverse weather (lightning, rain, wind, extreme heat etc.)
  • Develop and implement emergency procedures including assembly points and maps
  • Ensure those with pre-existing conditions are appropriately managing their health and relevant medication, and that equipment is available for the duration of the outdoor activity
  • Ensure engineering controls are in place (e.g. provision of natural or built shade, climate controlled classrooms etc.)