Railings, stairs, doors or lighting - There are many areas in a school or nursery that require special attention to safety and minimisation of accident risks. So it's all the better if the responsible caretaker is also the municipal representative of the Council for Accident Prevention (BFU). In our two-part blog series, Jürg Dreier, school caretaker at the Eich primary school and nursery in Kleinlützel, answers questions about his volunteer work at the BFU and about the safety-related challenges and further developments in daily use for his school.
According to estimates by the BFU, over 12,000 people in Swiss schools, nurseries, childcare facilities or universities are injured every year in an accident, including crushing or trapped fingers on doors resulting in bone fractures or worse. How exactly does the BFU come into play and what is its specific task?
The Council for Accident Prevention (BFU) sees itself as a centre of expertise that researches and advises to ensure that accidents with serious consequences in Switzerland are less likely to occur. This is because it has been proven that many of the accidents reported annually can be prevented by suitable measures. This applies both in the public context and at home, in leisure time and during sport. For over 80 years, the BFU has had a public contract for this, and every Swiss municipality must now appoint a BFU representative. In Kleinlützel, I took on this role on a voluntary basis a few years ago after completing the relevant training. One of my tasks is to identify accident risks in public facilities and to be able to reduce them in advance by actively advising or suggesting suitable preventive measures. At the moment, however, I advise much more frequently on questions about private projects, for example when planning an accident-proof private children’s playground in the garden or if there are general questions about applicable safety standards and building regulations.
How do you combine your advisory work for the BFU with your permanent job as caretaker?
The two go together very well. I have been working as a caretaker for 26 years and have gained a lot of additional knowledge thanks to the additional BFU advisory function. This is a win-win situation, because I have been very consciously using this knowledge in my daily work to maintain properties I'm entrusted with. I am more able to identify sources of danger and find out about new safety-relevant regulations directly and quickly via the BFU. For example, a lot has happened in the area of accessibility or material requirements for small components.
What safety challenges do you face in school buildings on a daily basis? What accidents happen?
At the moment, the social distancing rules and hygiene measures in light of the coronavirus pandemic are keeping us on our toes. This is not made easier by the fact that I have to regularly reprimand children on the school grounds for unauthorised climbing games. There are also general community tasks such as playground checks, maintenance of green areas and similar. Fortunately, accidents happen very rarely in my area of responsibility. And if they do happen, then it is usually small cuts from crafting with scissors and cutters or grazed knees - very rarely a bone fracture. Of course, there are always ideas for potential improvements. For years, for example, I have wanted us to establish a system which makes the doors for our littlest ones operate more smoothly on the premises and rules out trapped fingers completely. In this context, the local council is currently advising on retrofitting and modernising our entire locking system technology.
In the second part of the interview, Mr. Dreier will tell us about the advantages of modernising security technology in the Eich primary school and nursery.