People involved in the governance and leadership of schools have a responsibility for health and safety management for students and staff. The Act requires Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) such as the Ministry of Education, Boards of Trustees, Contractors and Consultants, to consult, cooperate and coordinate activities with other PCBUs who share health and safety duties on the same matter. This is particularly the case inside school grounds and buildings. However, what many people are not aware of is that under the new Health and Safety at Work Act, which came into effect in April 2016, vehicles used to carry out work-related duties are also regarded as worksites. This means schools that own, lease or contract vehicles to transport students and/or staff need to monitor and manage the health and safety risks associated with these vehicles. In this blog I outline how vehicle location technology (GPS vehicle trackers) can support Boards of Trustees and Principals with information to identify risks, monitor the management of risks and take action when required. Certification and maintenance Many schools own vehicles (vans, mobility vehicles) to transport students and staff to sporting, cultural or educational events. These vehicles must be appropriately certified and maintained. Drivers of these vehicles must also have the appropriate training, qualifications and certification, including vetting under the Vulnerable Children’s Act (MoE site here). Many GPS solutions have the capability to monitor and provide reminders to ensure certification and service are up to date. Staff and student safety on vehicles In order to be proactively identifying and monitoring risks, Boards of Trustees and Principals should ensure that vehicles are driven safely and have a means of knowing where their staff and students are while travelling on these vehicles. An integrated hardware/software GPS solution can support Boards and Principals with this task. Monitoring driving behaviour GPS trackers have the capability to monitor the speed of vehicles. Instances of vehicles travelling over speed limits can be: Recorded for reporting in real-time, daily, weekly (etc) Instantly alerted to drivers through in-vehicle sounds, lights Instantly alerted to people monitoring safety via text messages, phone calls and email messages Similarly GPS trackers can monitor instances of sharp cornering or excessive braking, which may indicate a driver is travelling too fast for the conditions, cutting corners, not anticipating the road ahead or tailgating. Reports produced by GPS software solutions can be used to monitor driving behaviour and support discussions about areas for improvement, driver training and safe driving. Knowing where staff and students are while travelling GPS trackers use satellites to record the position of vehicles. This data is presented on maps to provide real-time representations of vehicles locations and movements. This means at anytime school staff monitoring the transportation of staff and students can check where the vehicle is, its direction of travel and where it has been. Emergency support Some GPS trackers include SOS buttons that can be pressed to alert designated people that help is required. Alerts can be receive via text message or phone calls and will provide the location of the vehicle so that help can be directed to the bus/van. Similarly if a vehicle is involved in a crash, GPS trackers can be configured to alert designated people when the GPS tracker detects significant impact. Leased and contracted vehicles The Health and Safety at Work legislation extends responsibility to employees, contractors and subcontractors. When schools lease or contract vehicles for school transport, it would be prudent to ask these companies to provide information from their GPS systems to ensure the safety of staff and students on these vehicles. Ministry of Education contracted school transport In January 2018, all providers of school transport contracted to the Ministry of Education, are required to operate an approved GPS telematics system. This will enable the Ministry of Education to identify, monitor and manage health and safety risks for students travelling on Ministry contracted school transport services. More information about this is available at Ministry of Education website and our blog.