‘Health, safety certification for schools a rarity in India’

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Kolkata, Aug 2 (IANS) Certification for schools and colleges to improve health and safety of students and staff is a “rarity” in India and must be a part of policy measures, a top official of a business standards company said here on Wednesday.

“We have a lot of catching up to do. It’s a rarity. There is no driver. Very few schools in India have received this certification. This is the forward thinking of the school. Not more than five per cent schools in India have certifications like these,” Venkataram Arabolu, Managing Director, British Standards Institution (BSI) Group India, told IANS.

BSI is Britain’s National Standards Body (NSB) and was the first national standards body.

“It should be considered as part of education policies,” he said.

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He was speaking on the sidelines of the handover ceremony of the OHSAS 18001:2007 Occupational Health and Safety Management Certification to South Point Education Society (SPES) that runs the South Point School (junior section) and South Point High School.

Around 6,400 students study in the junior school building and about 5,200 students in the high school building at South Point, which had for years featured in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest educational institution.

The Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS 18001:2007) is an international standard and it stipulates processes to identify, control and decrease the risks, associated with health and safety in the organization concerned, for all its stakeholders.

The certification ensures that a rigorous health and safety policy is in place in the organisation and that it protects all stakeholders who are occupants of the premises, including teachers and staff, parents, visitors and, most importantly, students, against possible occupational risks and reduces the likelihood of accidents.

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SPES is the first educational establishment in Kolkata to receive the particular certification.

To implement the certification, the institution undertook several infrastructure development measures over the past four to five years including installing integrated fire-fighting system, installing GPS devices in buses etc. at a cost of Rs 2 crore.

Arabolu said the certification not only takes care of students and teachers but is also about spreading awareness.

“You don’t wait for the fire or the problem to happen… you take proactive steps. Once such measures are taken and periodic auditing takes place, the awareness trickles down from the students and teachers to parents and others in society,” he added.

–IANS

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