In accordance with the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 1989 individual school authorities are responsible in the first instance for ensuring the safety and welfare of children and others in their care. Provision is built into the annual school building programme to enable schools to address urgent health and safety issues as identified by the school authority by way of an annual allocation, amounting to €3,809 plus €12.70 per pupil, under the devolved grant scheme for minor works. This allocation can be used entirely at the discretion of the school authority to address issues such as wheelchair access as required. Where schools are unable to address all issues arising on an incremental basis it is open to the school authority to apply for funding from my Department under the appropriate scheme, in this instance the summer works scheme. The closing date for receipt of applications for the 2006 summer works scheme was 14 October 2006. However, the school will have an opportunity to apply under next year's scheme should this be necessary.
The Department also sets aside a contingency sum each year to deal with emergency works in primary and post-primary schools, including health and safety works. If the school authority considers that wheelchair access is required as a matter of urgency to accommodate a particular pupil or staff member, then an application for funding should be submitted for consideration to my Department's school planning and building unit.