School Safety: Exterior Facilities

After a school building is constructed, it is important school district administrators keep a close eye on the quality of the buildings. New buildings tend to deteriorate quickly because of poor weather conditions and routine wear and tear. If administrators make maintenance a priority from the beginning, it could reduce large and expensive fixes in the future. Regular inspection processes are the basis of good building maintenance practice because it helps identify necessary repairs at an early stage to minimize the risk of bigger and costly problems in the future. Experts say engineers and surveyors should provide a visual inspection of the structures on an annual basis.

Parking Lot Safety

One of the most dangerous spots at school is the parking lot. In fact, the National Highway Safety Administration listed parking lots as the most common area for injuries for pedestrians under the age of 12 in the report “Traffic Safety Facts 2008: Pedestrians.”

As you can imagine, there are many ways a drop-off and pick-up zone can become dangerous for children. There are several ways to make the process much safer, such as striping, safety cones, signs, supervision, and enforcement.

There are many other tools that can be used to improve the safety and efficiency of this process at schools including:

  • Encourage walking, bicycling, and carpooling.
  • Separate motor vehicles from pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Add a drop-off lane and pick-up lane.
  • Offer assistance for students who are both exiting and entering motor vehicles.

Signs help define areas in drop-off and pick-up zones and explain their proper use. Signs should be standard, highly visible, properly installed, and well-maintained.

Remember, some signs can be confusing if improperly placed or poorly worded. Signs with fewer words are easier to read and understand. Standard signs should be used on school property and in the surrounding area for regulating and guiding traffic. A local traffic engineer can recommend appropriate signs and their placement.

Portable Classroom Safety

An estimated 385,000 portable classrooms are in use at schools across the country, and that number is sure to grow, as school districts across the nation are dealing with overcrowding issues. Portable classrooms should be a temporary fix for overcrowding, but more often than not, they are becoming permanent fixtures on school campuses.

Portables and Health Issues

Portables should be only used as short-term fixes as they can lead to chronic problems, such as the following:

Experts say outdoor air should be supplied on a continuous basis when students and/or teachers are in the portable classroom to improve the ventilation. If students or teachers experience eye or respiratory irritation, neurologic symptoms or difficulty concentrating while in the portable classrooms, they should immediately reduce exposure and get medical help.

Poor lighting, extreme temperatures and noisy heating, and air conditioning can compromise the learning experience in portables. The structures often are placed in soggy fields or parking lots, near noise and vehicle exhaust.

For more important information regarding school safety, be sure to check out OSHAcademy’s School Safety Outreach Program.  You may be eligible for an educators account.