Risk Management

Risk Management Advisories

VOTER POLLING STATIONS

During elections at all levels of government, it is quite common for schools to be used as Polling Stations, meaning large numbers of people from all age groups will be converging on school properties on voting day.  In addition to this, there may be the added risk of wet weather or winter conditions.  School boards need to be vigilant in monitoring and responding to these conditions.

Although the Polling Stations should be regarded as any other permit holder situation, under Occupier's Liability, the school board will still be held responsible for injuries arising from falls in parking lots, sidewalks, stairs, hallways, etc. OSBIE has paid a number of these types of claims over the years resulting from the school being used as a Polling Station, and we would like to raise awareness of the exposures that prevail, particularly due to wet weather conditions. Keep in mind that elderly people are particularly vulnerable to trips and falls, as noted in our claim experience.  We recommend school boards take into consideration the following Risk Management Tips during Federal, Provincial or Municipal elections:

Risk Management Tips for Schools Used as Polling Stations:

  1. Ensure contractors and/or custodians remain on duty even if winter weather requires classes to be cancelled or an early dismissal of students on Election Day. 
  2. Ensure contractors and/or custodians conduct extra maintenance "sweeps" during the day, including all parking lots, sidewalks, stairs (inside and outside), hallways and any other areas voters may use to access the building.
  3. Ensure log books are kept up to date to document inspection intervals and action taken (for both employees as well as contractors).
  4. Ensure custodial staff are on duty the entire day of the election until polls close.  Remember, election activities will extend well beyond regular school hours.
  5. Regularly check floor mats at entrances to make sure they are positioned properly and have not shifted due to foot traffic – replace as necessary.
  6. Place safety cones around areas where floors may be wet.
  7. Ensure all public walkways (inside and outside) are clean and clear of debris, garbage or any other slipping or tripping hazard.
  8. Ensure all interior and exterior lights are on and functioning properly.
  9. Post signs directing the public to voting stations - if possible have volunteers present to direct voters to appropriate areas of the school.
  10. Instruct volunteers and staff to escort “stray” members of the public back to designated areas.
  11. Segregate student areas from public voting areas - students should not be permitted in areas of the school being used by the public during that day.

(REVISED 2015) E&OE
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