Health and safety
Safe location and supervision of computers in schools
Internet access for pupils in schools should be available on computers that are in highly-used areas of the school such as classrooms, libraries, study areas, computer laboratories and media-centres.
Computer screens should be visible to other people circulating in the area and while using the Internet at school, pupils should, where possible, be supervised.
However, when appropriate, pupils may be given permission to use systems independent of staff supervision. In all cases, pupils should be reminded, through visible notices, of their responsibility to behave in line with the school code of practice.
There are a number of physical health and safety matters to consider when using technology devices:
Posture - Ergonomics
The University of the West of England has provided guidance on safe computer use 276KB PDF to ensure that computers are used with a correct posture by ensuring that the chair, keyboard, screen and mouse are properly set up and positioned.
Interactive Whiteboards and Projectors
All interactive whiteboards and other data projectors, if misused, have the potential to cause eye injury, particularly if children stand in front of the beam to give presentations. Simple guidelines should be provided:
- Make clear to all users that no one should stare directly into the beam of the projector.
- When entering the beam, users should not look towards the audience for more than a few seconds.
- Encourage users to keep their backs to the projector beam when standing in it.
- Children should be supervised at all times when a projector is being used.
Using a computer is unlikely to be a problem for people with photosensitive epilepsy as the screen flicker is higher than the rate that triggers epilepsy. However, to make sure that any possible risk is kept to an absolute minimum, it is important to consider both the type of software and the display screen.
Epilepsy Action offers more detailed advice.
Mobile Phone - Health and Safety
The Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones Report (The Stewart Report, 2000) found no known health problems caused by mobile phones, but advised caution especially among the young, discouraging non-essential use, until more research was carried out. It also looked at some limitations on the operation of mobile masts near schools. A further report in 2004 supported these findings.
Wireless Local Area Networks (WLAN)
WLANs can offer additional flexibility over traditional ‘wired’ networks by using radio waves as the signal carrier. It follows that people using WLAN equipment will be exposed to the radio signals that are emitted; information about such exposure is provided at:
The Health Protection Agency has advised that there is no consistent evidence of health effects from radio frequency exposures below guideline levels and therefore no reason why schools and others should not use WiFi (Wireless Fidelity) equipment. Further information on WiFi equipment is available at:
In October 2007, the Health Protection Agency announced an extended programme of research into WLANs and their use. The results of the research project have been published and can be accessed on the HPA website. The results are consistent with the HPA position that exposures to the radio waves from Wi-Fi equipment are not expected to exceed internationally-accepted guidelines and that they are less than from mobile phones.