Unsafe, unhealthy, unsightly
Staff and parents at a small primary school on Brisbane's southside have raised concerns regarding the inadequate and unhygienic facilities at their workplace. Problems relate to the toilet blocks for both staff and students, the lack of adequate sick room facilities, staffroom facilities that do not meet minimum standards for workplace amenities and white-ant infested administration areas. Staff invited the Queensland Teachers' Union and Education Department officials to visit the school during Workplace Health and Safety Week to see for themselves the extent of the neglect. First Aid facilities are housed in the staffroom. Injured and sick students are treated in the same room as staff who are trying to eat lunch. A bin beside the sink often contains blood-contaminated items and other body products. As there is no sick room, children who are ill are forced to lie on sick beds which are located in the main thoroughfare of the administration area. The closest available toilet is located in the main toilet area 80 metres away. Cramped conditions Conditions throughout the Administration Block are cramped, including the teacher aide room, which houses four teacher-aides in a total area off two sq metres. The room has not undergone renovations following a white ant infestation. There are holes in the door from recent white ant treatment. The Principal's office, directly above the teacher-aides room was also affected by the termite infestation. The door frame of his door has been eaten away. He has been waiting for a new door frame and door since the start of the year. The original toilets constructed in the 60's for the Junior and Senior Boys has been closed since January. It is deemed too costly to refurbish. Years of urine leaching into the concrete have created an unbearable odour in the entire block. The Infant Boy's toilet, accommodates up to 200 boys a day. This urinal, together with six pedestals, constitute the only faculty available to all boys in the school from Years 1 to 7. The Infant Girl's toilets are relatively new, having been built 20 years ago. Due to slippage that has occurred under the block, the pipes have been severed and effluent has been flowing directly into the ground. Ironically the school's motto is "Only the Best". Because of the inactivity of the Education Department, QTU representative Belinda Uhlmann and the Workplace Health and Safety Officer Meredith Houston contacted the Workplace Health and Safety office about the poor conditions. They have referred the complaint to the Department, which, after years of procrastination, has recently advised that the school will receive $300,000 for a new toilet block as a result of the increase in capital works in the State Budget. The school will continue to seek additional funds to provide the quality of facilities that neighbouring schools enjoy.
* * *Acknowledgement to Queensland Teachers' Journal