Working within occupied school environments

Whether it is refurbishing a part of the existing school buildings or constructing a new teaching block, working within an occupied and fully functioning school can present many challenges.

The majority of our clients want us to carry out the works while the school building remains occupied and this carries its own risks, potentially involving people, IT and construction equipment.

Asbestos is another potential risk. In 1999, the government put a total ban on the use of asbestos, meaning that any building pre 1999 carries the potential risk of containing asbestos. As such, we stringently review all existing records and if necessary, we carry our own R&D survey.
Before we undertake any occupied school project, it is essential that we have a clear and thorough understanding of how the occupied areas are being used – the building’s purpose/activities, conditions needed for the students and teaching staff, teaching patterns, any exams scheduled, deliveries, etc.

Once we are fully aware of the daily operations of the school, we can then consider the following issues:

  • Dust, noise and vibration issues
  • Access restrictions
  • Power and IT outage issues
  • Health & safety issues
  • Programme restrictions – for example, zero noise during an exam period
  • General disturbance and impact upon occupants.

Safeguarding – safety of the pupils and staff is our number one priority when working within a school. As a matter of course, it is essential that as a contractor, we always review the schools policy towards safeguarding and obtain DBS checks whenever they are required.

Close liaison with the school throughout the duration of the project is essential. Communication is key when working within an occupied school!