Study Finds Work Load is the Greatest Source of Stress for School Principals – Which health and safety tasks can be dropped to ease the burden?

The latest Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey shows the two greatest sources of stress for school administrations are quantity of work, and lack of time to focus on teaching and learning. The average hours spent at work by principals ranges between 51-60 hours per week during term time and 25-30 hours per week during gazetted holiday periods.


The survey, released in February, was published by the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education at Australian Catholic University. It is part of a long-term research project, currently in its seventh year, monitoring the health and wellbeing of school administrators.


Given that health and safety related activities are often viewed as adding to the burden of school management, it warrants assessing the merits of the health and safety activities that are undertaken at your school.


Here’s what we suggest you can do.


Health and Safety Resourcing Audit

Okay…. any activity with the word “audit” in it generally has no place in an exercise designed to ease work load.   However, where a traditional health and safety audit assesses what you’re doing against an established set of requirements, and generally finds more things you need to be doing. This audit just looks at what you’re currently doing, and questions whether it’s necessary. The aim of this exercise is to find staff time and resources that can be used in a better way. Here’s what we recommend:


Step 1: list every hour and dollar spent on things related to safety.

Step 2: Then ask the following three questions against each item on the list:

  • Does “it” (”it” = the time or resource) decrease the likelihood of a nasty incident?
  • Does “it” help manage things if someone does get hurt?
  • Does “it” directly contribute to meeting a requirement set by legislation or a regulator?

Step 3: If the answer to all three questions is “no” – then you’ve found time or resourcing that you can consider redirecting.


Even if you don’t find time and resources to re-direct, this exercise is a valuable “due diligence” exercise as you’ll have a clear picture of your current health and safety resourcing. For more information on Due Diligence, please see our guide – Due Diligence in Schools Guide V1.

If finding the two or so hours the above exercise should take to conduct proves a challenge, or you just want a hand… Franklyn Work Safety.