Use of Schools as Polling Stations / Insurance Issues
12th April 2018 | What's New
The following guidelines have been drafted in respect of the use of schools as Polling Stations in the forthcoming referendum.
In drafting these guidelines it should be noted that School Patrons and Boards of Management who have an Allianz Custodian School Protection policy are adequately protected in respect of their legal liability as owners and/or occupiers of the school premises, subject at all times to the terms conditions exclusions limitations and endorsements of the policy issued to each specific school. Please note there is no indemnity provided to the Returning Officer and/or the State in respect of their use of school premises as this is a matter for the Returning Officer and the State.
Under the State Claims Agency circular SCA-SI-08-01 it clearly states under Section h) that “It is the responsibility of the RO to ensure the premises is appropriate for the intended use i.e. polling and/or counting” It also sets out under h) the responsibilities of the Returning Officer to carry out risk assessments and to identify control measures that may be required
In light of the above the practice of Returning Officers seeking an indemnity from the School or seeking to have the Schools Health & Safety Statement amended to incorporate the Returning Officers exposure is misguided. On the contrary it is the Returning Officer who should be providing an indemnity to the School and who should carry out their own risk assessments to ensure the premises meets their requirements and to ensure they address any shortcomings identified e.g. the lack of external lighting during the hours of darkness.
Consequently Schools should not provide an indemnity to the Returning Officer nor should they extend their own Health & Safety Statement to facilitate the Returning Officer but rather they should
(a) seek confirmation in writing that the Returning Officer has assessed the premises to ensure it is suitable for it’s intended purpose as required under circular SCA-SI-08-01
(b) seek an indemnity from the Returning Officer in accordance with the State Claim Agency document SCA-CS-01-02