Safety Office

Section 6: General Precautions

6.1 Risk Management

The most important way of ensuring good health and safety is through an effective risk management strategy. Individuals must be aware of the hazards (i.e. things that can cause harm) involved in their work whether it be a simple task of lifting or a complex experimental procedure. The primary aim should be to prevent harm occurring, however it is recognised that this may not always be possible, in which case control measures should be identified that will as far as reasonably practicable reduce the risk of harm occurring to an acceptable level.

Control measures should be considered and applied in the following order:

    • Prevention – the work/use of the substance must be fully justified and necessary.
    • Substitution – can a less harmful substance/material or more suitable equipment be used?
    • Enclosure/engineering controls – separate the individual from the hazard. e.g. by using a fume cupboard or provision of machine guards.
    • Defining procedural handling controls e.g. using a trolley to assist in moving a piece of equipment, avoiding use of sharps, controlling the temperature of a reaction.
    • Personal Protective Equipment [PPE] – identify what is required in addition to the above controls to minimise risk (e.g. safety specs, footwear, lab coats, gloves). Where PPE is deemed necessary it must be worn. Students failing to comply may be excluded from particular practical classes or areas.

Risk assessment (as required by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations) should be the first step in deciding the control measures needed. For more complex procedures/operations the control measures identified to minimise risk should be incorporated into a written standard operating procedures approved and checked by supervisor /manager.

Advice on specific safety aspects of a procedure should be sought from the local Safety Officer or the University Safety Office. Information is also available on-line from the following sources:

Training and supervision:

One of the most important elements of controlling the risks and making sure that the controls are properly used is the provision of information, instruction and training to those doing the work. This also needs supplementing with supervision to make sure that the information etc. has been properly understood and that the task is being competently carried out. The extent of direct supervision can be relaxed as the person demonstrates competence but adherence to correct procedures must form part of the ongoing monitoring arrangements. The responsibilities of academic supervisors toward post graduate and undergraduate students are described in Safety Office Guidance PDF format.


It is essential that individuals remain vigilant toward the general conditions in an area and/or of any equipment or materials used in their work. Any defects must be reported immediately to their line manager or supervisor and if necessary the item taken out of use until repaired.

6.2 University Codes of Practice, Policies and Guidance

The Safety Office has produced topic-specific guidance where there is a particular hazard likely to occur in different Schools/Departments etc. Such guidance is produced with the intention of achieving uniform standards of safe practice. This handbook refers to specific University codes of practice, policy or guidance where it exists and the entire listing is given on the Safety Office website.

6.3 Occupational Health

The primary function of the occupational health service is to advise on matters relating to health and the working environment. This is carried out in close co-operation with the Safety Office.

Where the work could involve exposure to hazardous substances or agents medical screening might be required before the work is undertaken and periodically thereafter. Examples include; allergy screening for those working with animals) and farm workers; checks for prospective users of ionising radiations, lasers and certain hazardous chemicals (e.g. respiratory sensitisers); and exposure to noise or vibrating equipment. It is the Line Manager’s responsibility to arrange for health surveillance with Occupational Health. Further advice is available from the Occupational Health Unit or the Safety Office.

6.4 Slips and Trips

A common type of incident in the working environment is falls, caused by slipping or tripping on a level, on stairs/steps, from access equipment (e.g. ladders) or from roofs. 

Some of the important factors in maintaining a low risk of people falling include: 

    • Appropriate floor surface for the activity taking place
    • Maintenance of floor surfaces (dealing with defects such as cracked flagstones, lifting carpet tiles)
    • Suitable cleaning regimes that effectively deal with the likely contamination (weather, spillages, leaks, sand, dust, etc.)
    • Maintaining clear and unobstructed walkways
    • Effective positioning of matting inside entrances
    • Non-slip footwear in certain environments (kitchens)
    • Training in relation to access equipment and use of roof-work permits

The Safety Office is able to assess floor surfaces to give an indication of the slipperiness using the HSE’s Slip Assessment Tool. This takes into consideration the type of floor, the cleaning regime, the footfall and the likely contaminants (weather, chemicals, dusts, etc.)

In all situations, the risks of tripping or slipping in the workplace should be considered and where identified as a significant risk, should be incorporated into local risk assessments with the aim of formulating an action plan to reduce the risk.

Corridors and staircases must provide safe circulation and emergency escape routes and hence they must not be used as working or storage areas. Never run on polished floors of corridors or common rooms. Bicycles must not be brought into University buildings as they can cause serious obstruction either within work areas or along routes comprising a means of excape from the building, see University Statement PDF format.

6.5 Office Safety

In offices, falls are a common source of accidents. Therefore, it is necessary to keep floors clear and free of goods, litter, trailing cables, etc. Also proper provision must be made for access to high level storage, e.g. by means of step stools and not by standing on chairs. Increasingly office equipment such as printing and duplicating machines, guillotines etc. are being introduced and these can cause serious injury if used carelessly. Chemical, electrical and mechanical hazards may be involved and the appropriate sections of this Handbook should be consulted.

6.6 Display Screen Equipment

The use of display screen equipment is subject to the Health & Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations and the University’s Policy for implementing these is outlined in Safety Office Guidance. The Regulations apply to workstations used by people for a significant part of most days; i.e. a user as legally defined. In general terms someone whose workstation use averages 2 hours per day over the course of a week would be a “user”, even if the actual use is for short periods at each time. Where the nature of the work requires prolonged and intensive sessions, then this threshold is lowered such that a single 1 hour intensive session each day is also likely to lead to an individual being defined as a user. Where the amount of use falls between these two types of use, then each case needs to be considered on its merits.

Local arrangements should ensure that the workstations of DSE users are assessed in order that the design and layout will minimise the risk of problems from aching backs, shoulders and wrists, or visual fatigue. In the first instance all users should complete the self-assessment workstation checklist and then forward it to the local DSE assessor/coordinator for review and action. Users should also be provided with training in the safe use of the display screen equipment. Computer-based training is available as are courses run by the Safety Office. A summary of DSE information for users PDF format is available.

Display screen equipment users may request an eye and eyesight test if they are concerned about any potential visual problems arising from the work. The mechanism for arranging this is described in Safety Office Guidance. The University operates an eye-test voucher scheme for DSE Users i.e. those who operate display screen equipment "as a significant part of their normal work", which is usually interpreted as continuous intensive use for more than about an hour on most days of the week. Contact you manager or local safety officer for details. This scheme includes special corrective appliances, e.g. basic spectacles, where these are required to enable the person to work with display screen equipment.

The Safety Office provides training for DSE assessors, courses may be booked via the Safety Office website.

Monitors should be switched off at the end of the day to avoid the risk of fire. If it is necessary to leave a monitor switched on overnight then the user must display a notice to that effect otherwise it is liable to be switched off by a security guard.

6.7 Manual Handling Operations

Manual handling operations, i.e. tasks involving lifting, moving and supporting of loads by way of physical effort, are subject to the Manual Handling Operations 1992. Guidance on implementing these is contained in University Guidance PDF format.

Manual handling operations should be avoided if it is reasonably practicable to do so, for example by eliminating the task, by redesigning the operation, or by way of automation or mechanisation. A large number of tasks cannot be eliminated however, in which case the operation should be assessed in order that those aspects of the task which could give rise to injury are identified and precautions taken to minimise the risks, so far as is reasonably practicable. The precautions may involve alterations to the task layout or design; alterations to the load, such as making it lighter or providing handles; or the provision and use of mechanical aids such as trolleys or lifting appliances.

Employees whose duties involve manual handling should be provided with training in safe handling.  They should attend the Moving & Handling Course which is available centrally through the Safety Office and they should be provided with specific training at a local level, relating to the actual handling activities they will be doing.

Where handling equipment or procedures have been provided by Schools or Departments etc, then staff should ensure that these are used. Where communal equipment has been used, it is important that it is returned to its designated storage location to assist in its subsequent use.

6.8 Psychological Wellbeing and the Avoidance and Management of Stress

Stress is an adverse reaction displayed by a person to excessive pressures and demands placed upon them. Stress will reduce a person's ability to function effectively and if prolonged may damage their psychological wellbeing. Psychological wellbeing is as important to an individual as good physical health and can affect their efficiency and effectiveness whilst at work. This is recognised by the University and a policy for psychological wellbeing and the avoidance and management of stress is in place. Please refer to the Human Resources website for this policy. The policy outlines steps for the management of stress, information on factors that are known to increase stress and the recognised signs and symptoms of stress.

6.9 New and Expectant Mothers

Information will be provided to female workers of childbearing age in relation to work activities and processes that could adversely affect them or their unborn child. The risks may be physical (e.g. manual handling, ionising radiation), biological (e.g. contact with blood and body fluids, micro-organisms, zoonoses) or chemical (e.g. carcinogenic substances).

Where the nature of the work area or work activities may present a risk to a new or expectant mother it is the responsibility of that person to notify local management at the earliest opportunity to enable the work to be specifically assessed. Where significant risks are identified appropriate action will be taken. The Head of School may require written confirmation of pregnancy from her medical adviser. Similar arrangements also apply to those who return to work and are breastfeeding where aspects of the work could adversely affect them or the infant.

In all circumstances it is the responsibility of the individual to notify the Human Resources Department of pregnancy in accordance with the University's Maternity Leave Regulations, i.e. receipt of a 'Mat B' Certificate 13 weeks before the expected date of confinement.

There may be other issues to be considered that might affect the expectant mother at work, including nightworking and rest at work. Further information is contained in Safety Office guidance on new and expectant mothers at work PDF format.

6.10 Smoking Policy

The University has a No Smoking Policy which is a corporate policy of the University and is not subject to reinterpretation by local management. The full policy is available via the Safety Office website PDF format.

The following key points should be noted:

1. Prohibition of Smoking within University Buildings, etc.

i. Smoking is prohibited throughout all University buildings, subject to points 1(iii) and 1(iv) below.
ii. The prohibition on smoking inside buildings inherently includes all general circulation areas such as corridors, stairs, lifts, foyers, reception and toilet areas; bars and eating areas; libraries; meeting rooms; and offices including those which are single occupancy.
iii. Within the Halls of Residence, each Hall Council will determine the local policy relating to smoking in study bedrooms, which are deemed to be private areas. Smoking is otherwise prohibited inside the Hall of Residence, including in all common areas and all communal rooms, bars, lounges, eating facilities and circulation areas.
iv. Smoking will be permitted in private areas of University houses used as the primary residence of members of staff, for example staff houses and Wardens' Houses.
v. Smoking is prohibited in University-owned vehicles, vehicles leased to, or on hire to, the University, and in any other case whilst travelling with others on University business. Vehicles provided under the University Car Leasing Scheme are considered to be equivalent to a privately owned vehicle for the purpose of this policy.

2. Smoking Areas Outside Buildings

i. Unless specifically prohibited by the policy of a host organisation on whose site the University operates smoking is permitted outdoors in open areas away from entrances, windows and other openings into University buildings.


(Please note that staff and students wishing to smoke are requested to do this away from doors, windows and access routes into the buildings. This is to prevent smoke entering the building through windows; to avoid the accumulation of litter at entrances; and to enable people to enter and leave the building without passing through an area used for smoking. A distance of 10m from windows is normally enough to ensure that smoke is effectively dissipated. To assist in this the Estate Office reviews the location of litterbins to facilitate smoking away from these areas.)
ii. To avoid the accumulation of unsightly smoking litter, facilities such as small bins at suitable locations away from building openings will be provided. Where small bins for extinguishing cigarettes are provided on the approach to building entrances these are only to enable safe and responsible extinguishing of cigarettes before entering the building and do not indicate that smoking is permitted at that location.

3. Implementation

i. Every encouragement will be given to smokers who wish to give up the habit of smoking. Support in stopping smoking is available through New Leaf, the free NHS free stop-smoking service, which can be accessed directly or by referral through GPs. Further information can be obtained from Occupational Health or via the New Leaf website.
ii. In cases of difficulty of implementing the policy, help and advice can be obtained from the Safety Office.
iii. It is expected that smokers will take a responsible attitude to the practice of smoking at work. Where individuals have difficulty in adapting to the policy they should be invited to discuss the issues with their manager or academic supervisor and referred to New Leaf for support. In the event of persistent non-compliance with this policy or in response to specific complaints, appropriate action will be taken including, where applicable, disciplinary action.

6.11 Alcohol and Drugs

The University recognises that the excessive use of alcohol and drugs can lead to increased risks of accidents in laboratories and workshops, etc. and to long-term adverse effects on the health of the individual concerned. The University Policy PDF formatis published on the Safety Office Website and aims to provide support in avoiding these adverse effects.

6.12 Safety of Children and Young Persons on University Premises

University arrangements for ensuring the safety of children whilst on its premises is described in this University Policy PDF format.

Brief Summary

Members of the University are discouraged from bringing their children into University premises (other than the public areas of the public buildings, e.g. Portland Building and the Libraries) except for social purposes such as organised functions or brief visits with new-born babies etc. which are restricted to low hazard areas.

The bringing of children into University premises at other times (e.g. accompanying the parent whilst at work due to child care difficulties) is at the sole discretion of the Head of School/Department to whom application should be made for written authority - which may or may not be granted. 

Children must be placed under close supervision at all times whilst on University premises.

This Policy does not apply to organised visits, e.g. open days etc. since they are an integral part of the University’s activities to which the normal safety arrangements would apply.

6.13 Safety of Adult Companions Assisting in University Work

University arrangements to ensure the safety of adults informally assisting members of the University in their work is described in this University Policy PDF format. Briefly, this is discouraged but should the need for this arise then permission for this will be at the discretion of the Head of School/Department. This will be refused where it is believed that the appropriate health and safety measures are not in place.

6.14 University Residences

Safety in University residences is the immediate and full responsibility of Hall Managers who must ensure that members of the accommodation acquaint themselves with the general safety regulations and also the particular regulations applicable to their own building, as well as studying the appropriate Hall Safety Handbook issued to them.

In addition there is specific guidance relating to safety at hall events organised by student committees. This is overseen by the Student Union.

Conference guests are given essential safety information for their stay in Hall accommodation. 

6.15 Work Areas

The design and layout of working areas, e.g. workshops, stores, offices, kitchens, must provide adequate space, heat, light and ventilation for both safety and reasonable comfort. Noise levels should be as low as the work permits and within safe working limits.

Areas of special hazard should be clearly signposted and appropriate equipment should be provided for dealing with the particular hazards present, particularly for persons who do not normally work in the area and who, therefore, need to be made aware of the hazards. Special arrangements should be made for access to such restricted areas.

6.16 Entry into Hazardous Areas by Contractors and Maintenance Staff

Entry by contractors and maintenance staff into laboratories, workshops and other hazardous areas is subject to arrangements being made to prevent their exposure to hazardous processes and substances, for example areas where radiation, biohazards, lasers, high power magnets, or toxic chemicals are used. The procedure to be followed is published on the safety Office website. The principles are:

    • Entry of maintenance operatives into such areas is prohibited without the permission of a responsible person for the area. Signage with contact details to be displayed at the entrance to the room, suite, or building.
    • The area shall be safe from process hazards for the maintenance work to proceed.
    • Entry shall be subject to a permit confirming either that the area is clear of process hazards or specifying the precautions to be followed to ensure safety.
    • Maintenance operatives from both the Estate Office and contractors are instructed in this procedure.
    • It is the responsibility of the schools and departments to ensure that independent contractors appointed by them are made aware of these procedures and are managed in accordance with them. 

For planned maintenance the entry form should be emailed to the Helpdesk at the same time the works request is submitted. This will avoid a delay on the day. For emergency work a supply of the forms should be available in the area to be completed at the time.

Hazardous Areas Entry Sign: Word MS Word Icon | PDF PDF format

6.17 Management of Asbestos

The hazardous nature of asbestos and asbestos products is well known and it is the university's aim that no one is put at risk from this hazard in their working environment. The Estates Office works to established Asbestos Procedures and any member of the University who is in doubt about this issue should contact the Estate Office at the earliest opportunity.

Asbestos incorporated into the fabric of the buildings is managed by the Estate Office and recorded in the asbestos register for each building. The Estate Office must be contacted prior to any work involving penetration of the building fabric in order that the asbestos register can be checked. This should be done through notifying the Helpdesk at least 7 days before the work is carried out.

Asbestos components within items of equipment, for example gaskets, seals, refractory linings and insulation, are the responsibility of its owner, which must arrange for:

    • Equipment containing asbestos to be identified
    • The condition to be assessed and monitored
    • The repair or removal of damaged or deteriorating material
    • A record to be kept of condition checks and of any remedial work

The Estate Office must be notified any of asbestos-containing equipment so that this can be added into the Asbestos Register.

A local inventory of asbestos-containing equipment, which identifies the components concerned and records the findings of regular checks, must be maintained. Asbestos-containing material is considered to be in poor condition if the exposed surface is in a state where there are areas of visibly loose fibres that may be released by minimal disturbance.

Equipment should either be labelled that it contains asbestos or the fact be recorded in operating instructions or other documentation that is readily available and brought to the attention of those who may disturb the material when using the equipment. Any work on the equipment that could disturb the components must be covered by a risk assessment to prevent exposure.

If confirmation of the presence of asbestos components is required, please contact the Estate Office, which will arrange for the equipment to be checked.

6.18 Confined Spaces

Particular care must be taken when working in confined spaces likely to be unventilated (e.g. storage tanks and service ducts). In these areas there is a risk of the build up of flammable, toxic or suffocating atmospheres, with no obvious indication of the hazard. In such circumstances only specifically trained and authorised persons are permitted to enter, and the necessary required precautions must be taken before work can begin. Entry must be carried out in accordance with a “permit to work” which formalises the precautions needed. For detailed advice please contact the Senior Engineer in the Estate Office or the Safety Office. See also section 7.7 concerning Hot Work Procedures.

In all high-risk areas and for persons working outside normal working hours there must be ready access to telephones.

6.19 Working at Height

The Work at Height Regulations apply to all work at height where there is a risk of falling that is liable to cause personal injury. There is no minimum height at which they apply as the risk is related to what the person could fall onto as well as the height of the fall. The regulations also concern protection of persons from being struck by falling objects or persons.

Work at height must be properly planned and organised, and take into account weather conditions that could endanger a person's health and safety. All persons involved in working at height should be trained and competent. All equipment for working at height must be appropriately inspected. Where work on fragile surfaces is unavoidable this must be properly controlled.

Access equipment and associated safety equipment must be on a local inventory to enable and record inspections of it. The equipment will usually be colour coded to indicate that it is "in-date".

The safest and most appropriate work equipment must be used for the task. A ladder may only be used for work at height where the risk assessment demonstrates that the use of more suitable work equipment is not justified because of the low risk and short duration or there are existing features on work area that cannot be altered.  See section 7.12 for guidance on the use of ladders.

Collective measures to prevent falls (such as guard rails and working platforms) must be chosen before other measures which may only mitigate the distance and consequences of a fall (such as nets or airbags) or which may only provide personal protection from a fall.

Any equipment used for work at height that is obtained from another organisation or company must be covered by an inspection certificate. Similarly such equipment if transferred from the University to another organisation must be accompanied by a current inspection report.

Do not loan access equipment to or borrow access equipment from contractors.

6.20 Respirable Crystalline Silica

Silica is one of the most abundant materials in the earth’s crust.  

There are three different forms:

    • Quartz – most common, found in most rocks, sands, clays and gravel
    • Crystoblalite
    • Trydimite

Within the University silica may be used or generated in certain laboratory and/or engineering processes. It can also be generated during building operations, such as drilling of concrete and sandblasting masonry.

Silica in its crystalline form has been classified by the International Agency for Research into Cancer as a Category 1 Carcinogen. Prolonged exposure and inhalation can lead to silicosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. These are serious conditions leading to permanent disability and early death.

As with any other hazardous substances, a risk assessment must be carried out for any procedure which involves the use of silica, or which can generate respirable silica particles and appropriate control measures put in place to eliminate or reduce risk to an acceptable level. Further details can be found in guidance on the Safety Office website PDF format.

6.21 Disposal of Waste Material

It should always be remembered that someone else will have to handle material put into waste bins. Therefore do not dispose of hazardous materials except in the approved manner prescribed for your area, and in approved containers.

Be especially careful with sharp objects of metal and glass, which should be well segregated before disposal.

Guidance is published on the Safety Office website concerning the particular requirements for the disposal of biologically hazardous/clinical waste and radioactive waste. This is to ensure the waste is packaged, labelled and transferred, or otherwise disposed, of in the correct and safe manner. This is supplemented by local procedures.

The University Environmental Manager, based within the Estates Office, can provide advice and guidance on waste disposal procedures. The Sustainability section of the Estates Office website contains more detailed information on the University’s arrangements for disposal of hazardous waste.

The University has approved a number of licensed waste contractors who must be used for the disposal of hazardous waste. These are listed on the Safety Office website.

Advice on disposal of radioactive waste can be obtained from the Safety and Radiation Protection Office.

Any waste containing asbestos must be must be disposed of via the Estate Office to ensure that it goes to a licensed disposal contractor. 

6.22 Out of Hours Working

Some Schools are open outside normal working hours for experimental work. The potential dangers of carrying out experimental work alone at night are much greater than normal and this practice should be strongly discouraged. Any practical work out of normal hours must only be carried out with the knowledge of the School Safety Officer and the consent of the Head of School. If such work is essential, every effort should be made to ensure that another worker is within hearing distance and the Security Staff should be asked to make regular contact. To facilitate this it is essential that any out-of-hours register or equivalent is filled in on entry AND departure from the School or building. 

General study facilities out of normal hours should be concentrated in specific areas to ensure the control and safety of persons involved. Notices to advise on the action to take in case of emergency should be posted in 24-hour access computer rooms.

6.23 Lone Working

The University acknowledges that there may be implications for its employees, students, visitors and contractors when working alone. Whilst there is no general legal prohibition on working alone there are some specific legal prohibitions affecting a small number of well-established dangerous situations such as working with live electrical conductors and entry into confined spaces.

Wherever possible lone working should be avoided but where there is a real requirement for lone working a suitable risk assessment must be carried out to identify the risks to the lone worker and safe working arrangements must be identified and introduced to minimise the risks as far as is reasonably practicable.

Those who may be at risk shall be provided with information and training as appropriate in order to minimise the risks when working remotely from colleagues or other persons and/or outside normal working hours. The arrangements that the University considers to be best practice are described in separate guidance PDF format that is available on the Safety Office web site. Where this guidance does not cover a particular situation, further advice may be sought from the Safety Office.

6.24 Work Experience

The University welcomes and encourages work experience placements for children below statutory school leaving age and young adults and recognises that they are an important part of secondary education. Guidance has been developed to ensure that the placement is planned and organised in such a way as to provide a safe and interesting learning experience for the student.

Health and safety Regulations place the following requirements on employers concerning these types of placements:

  1. To take particular account of certain specified factors when carrying out or reviewing risk assessments;
  2. That the risk assessment be carried out before the young person starts work;
  3. To prohibit young person from certain work if risk assessment identifies a significant risk which cannot be eliminated; and
  4. In cases where the young person is a child, to provide information to parents/guardians/carers concerning the risk assessment.

All work experience placements must have the approval of the Head of School/Manager in charge or a person with delegated authority of the. The School/Departmental Safety Officer must also be consulted and involved in setting up the placement. Guidance PDF formaton the issues relating to setting up placements is available on the Safety Office web site. This includes templates for the risk assessment and correspondence with parents/guardians/carers. In particular the young person must:

    • Not be left alone in the School/department, nor work alone or out of hours, and must be properly supervised at all times.
    • Not be exposed to ionising radiation.
    • Not be involved in work with any carcinogenic or toxic substances and must be kept away from areas where such materials are handled.
    • Not work beyond their physical or psychological capabilities. They must not be involved in lifting or handling of significant loads. Contact with patients will only be considered after thorough assessment has been made of the psychological risks (see below if relevant).
    • Not be exposed to excessive noise, vibration, heat or cold.
    • Not be exposed directly to respiratory sensitisers.
    • Not be involved in the use of workshop machinery with moving parts, automatic/semi-automatic cutting machinery, guillotines, power presses, woodworking machinery, compressed air tools or similar hazardous machinery.

Applications concerning children under the statutory school leaving age should be arranged through the local education authority’s placement organisation. This will address many of these requirements.

6.25 Team Building Events

Participation in team building events or away days will usually be as part of a person’s employment. Such events might include unusual and/or higher risk activities such as climbing or assault courses or be in unfamiliar environments. Guidance is available PDF format on the Safety Office website to ensure that the university’s responsibilities relating to the planning of these are addressed.

The external facilitator or provider will be primarily responsible for the safety of the equipment and the conduct of activities provided by them. However, the University is responsible for making reasonable attempts to establish the competency of the provider and the suitability of the activity. There is also likely to be a need to provide information to the participants to ensure that they are properly prepared and know what to expect.

The key elements include:

    • Ensuring a risk assessment is carried out for any hazardous activities
    • Ensuring appropriate health and safety information is obtained from the event provider
    • Checking suitability of the activity for participating staff
    • Ensuring appropriate levels of employee and public liability insurance is in place where external providers are used. Commercial services must be consulted in relation to the insurance implications for hazardous activities organised within the University

Team Building Risk Assessment Form MS Word Icon

6.26 Industrial Visits

When undertaking an industrial visit the host organisation will normally be responsible for ensuring the safety of those visiting. The School concerned should ensure that staff and students visiting an industrial site understand the local safety requirements and comply with them.

6.27 Student Placements

The primary responsibility for the health and safety of placement students lies with the employer providing the placement. However, the University has produced guidelines to ensure that placements are satisfactory in terms of their health and safety standards. They relate to placements where a student works for an employer as a temporary employee and is required to do so as part of the course of study, typically commercial or industrial situations.

The placement provider must have been formally approved by the University, the student will be provided with general health and safety information, and conditions at the placement will be monitored by a combination of tutors’ visits, and feedback from the student as appropriate. Any concerns that a student has about health and safety standards at their placement should be notified to their academic supervisor. If the placement is outside of Great Britain then appropriate personal travel insurance should be taken out.

Each School is responsible for having adequate arrangements in place. Further detailed information is published on the Safety Office website PDF format.

6.28 Working Overseas

Whilst working overseas individuals may be exposed to additional non-work related hazards arising out of the general conditions within the country being visited, e.g. tropical diseases, crime or political instability. Guidelines PDF formathave been issued to enable these issues to be assessed and the visit planned accordingly. Information on the latest situation in any country may be accessed via the Safety Office website.

When planning an overseas trip, the organiser or individual should consult the MASTA Travel Health website, which has comprehensive health advice for travellers and also contact either their GP or local Travel Clinic (available at Cripps Health Centre and in Nottingham City Centre) at the earliest opportunity to identify and organise the vaccinations they require. Contact arrangements between the University and the host at the destination should also be established.

A checklist of practical tips to help overcome the kinds of problems, which may arise, is included in the above guidelines.

6.29 Fieldwork

Fieldwork is defined as any practical work carried out by staff or students of the University for the purpose of teaching or research in places which are not under the direct supervisory control of the University, but where the University is responsible for the safety of its staff, students, or others who may be affected by their activities.

School policy in relation to fieldwork activities must include procedures to ensure adequate risk assessment, the establishment of safe working procedures, clear lines of responsibility in the field, competence, training, and fitness of individuals to do the work, contingency plans for foreseeable problems and procedures for the review of the safety of fieldwork activities.

Group working is preferred. Lone-working in the field presents particularly high risks and should be avoided whenever possible. Particularly stringent codes of practice are required for unsupervised work.

Where fieldwork is carried out on the premises of another organisation, Schools should be satisfied that the local safety procedures are adequate for the work envisaged and that the individuals concerned understand and comply with them.

Schools should also ensure that accommodation for field trips outside the United Kingdom meets an acceptable standard of safety. Where possible such accommodation should be booked through a travel agency or tour operator affiliated to the Association of British Travel Agents.

Expeditions to hostile, remote and/or inaccessible locations present a higher degree of risk than standard field expeditions. As such they will require rigorous risk assessment and identification of control measures to reduce risks to a level that is acceptable to both the University and the individual participants.

The University Safety Committee has established an Expedition Peer Review Panel [EPRP] comprised of University employees who have experience of organising these types of expedition and who will review and approve risk assessments and emergency response plan and advise the relevant Head of School as to its adequacy or otherwise.

The University has also engaged the services of International SOS to provide advice on high risk expeditions and security, medical assistance and evacuation of casualties in event of emergency. 

The University Guidelines for Safety in Fieldwork PDF formatand the associated addendum for high risk expeditions which is available on the Safety Office website should be consulted for further information.

6.30 Diving Operations

Any diving carried out as part of a work activity is subject to the Diving at Work Regulations 1997. Diving in pursuance of the activities of the University, such as fieldwork activities and student projects that include diving to obtain samples or to study underwater systems etc. would be subject to these requirements. Although limited to operations within Great Britain and its territorial waters the Regulations provide a sound framework that should be applied to diving projects elsewhere unless adequately covered by other local legislation.

The Safety Office must be notified in advance of any proposal for a work-related University activity involving diving in order that necessary notifications to HSE can be made and appropriate arrangements confirmed. A minimum of 3 months should be allowed for this.

Diving operations require formal risk assessment and diving management arrangements by way of “diving project” plans and records, and the appointment of competent diving supervisors. Each diving project must be controlled by a single person who is responsible for planning, managing and conducting the work safely. A diving project plan (in effect a written risk assessment covering all the various operations, identification of supervisors and describing the information and instructions given to the divers) must be prepared before diving commences and kept up to date. A competent, formally qualified “diving supervisor” must be appointed to supervise those operations that they are responsible for. There must only be one diving supervisor for each diving operation and they must not participate in the dive.

The individual divers must be formally qualified and posses a certificate of medical fitness to dive as issued by an HSE approved medical practitioner (this can be arranged through Occupational Health). Divers must keep a record of each dive in a logbook, which must be retained for at least 2 years after the last entry.

There are some relaxations relating to work as part of diver training, recreation and activities carried out in a swimming pool or similar.

Further information can be obtained from the Safety Office. Safety Office Guidance PDF format is also available.

6.31 Threatening or Violent Situations

These guidelines relate to a violent and/or threatening, or potentially violent and/or threatening, behaviour or situations on University property.

The situations to which these guidelines relate include verbal abuse, threats, and physical attacks.

With over 30,000 students and 5000 staff and numerous daily visitors to the University it is not always easy to either predict or guard against violent or threatening behaviour. It is incumbent on all staff and students to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings and the potential for any situation to become threatening or violent.

Incidents of work-related violence should be reported to the Safety Office on a University accident report form and might require notification to the Health and Safety Executive. Such incidents are monitored by the Safety Office and reported to the Safety Committee.

Where the nature of the work activities or environment is such that there is a particular risk of encountering a threatening or violent situation then this should be included in the risk assessment for the activity or area. The Security Office should be consulted for advice on physical and procedural measures, including training, to minimise the risk. The Safety Office can also offer advice.

Actions to be taken in the event of a threatening or violent situation:

    1. If a situation is likely to become threatening or violent and if possible leave the area, having alerted other staff, students or visitors in the area.
    2. Report any incidents as soon as possible to University Security using the emergency number 8888.
    3. If a situation does become violent and/or threatening if possible do not get involved unless in self-defence or to save life.
    4. Never try to protect property, life is more important.
    5. If the situation warrants phone the Police before University Security.

If you have been affected by a threatening or violent situation you might find it helpful to contact the University Counselling service.

6.32 Driving on University Business - General

It is important that anyone driving on University business takes note of the guidance contained in the document "Driving on University Business PDF format" which must be read in conjunction with the University's Business Travel Policy which can be found on Commercial Services workspace. In summary anyone driving on University business is required to:


    • Adhere to the Road Traffic legislation and the Highway Code published by HMSO.
    • Drive with due care and consideration for themselves and other road users.
    • Adhere to University Traffic Regulations when driving on University campuses. These Regulations include requirements relating to speed limits, permits, roadworthiness and parking.
    • Be aware of insurance and breakdown service contact details if driving a University vehicle.
    • Ensure that when driving a privately owned vehicle it is roadworthy, has a current MOT where applicable, is insured for business use and has a valid road fund license.
    • Possess a valid licence to drive the vehicle.
    • All drivers driving under the University motor insurance policy must hold a valid permit to drive.


In addition there are specific University policies that prohibit drivers from:

    • Using hand-held mobile phones whilst driving on University business. Drivers are discouraged from receiving or making phone calls on hands free phones. Where hands free phones are required these should be obtained via the telephone services manager and meet the required standard.
    • Smoking in University vehicles and in any other case whilst travelling with others on University business.

The University does not advocate or condone illegal parking or driving in excess of speed limits. Payment of any fines or court costs resulting from these activities is the driver’s responsibility and will not be met by the University.

6.33 Minibus Driving

There are some particular restrictions that apply to drivers of minibuses. Those who passed their car driving test before 1st January 1997 may drive minibuses with up to 16 passenger seats and tow a trailer exceeding 750kg, subject to a vehicle/trailer combination limit of 8.25 tonnes (gross vehicle weight), until their current driving licence expires. This applies within the UK. However, those passing their car test from 1st January 1997 may only drive vehicles up to a maximum of 8 passenger seats. To drive minibuses with 9 to 16 passenger seats an additional driving test is required to obtain Category D1 (or D1+E to tow a trailer exceeding 750kg) entitlement on their licence.

Any person wishing to drive a minibus and holding a driving licence that was issued before 1st January 1997 is required to undertake an assessment via the Minibus Driver Awareness Scheme (MIDAS). This is valid for 4 years after which it must be refreshed. Similarly any minibus driver with the D1 entitlement on their driving licence must also undertake MIDAS refreshers every 4 years from the fourth anniversary of the licence issue date.

All minibus drivers must be notified to Procurement. There is a minimum age (for insurance purposes) of 25 for driving minibuses belonging to or hired by the University.

When taken abroad, minibuses must be fitted with a tachograph and Procurement must be informed. Any members of the University driving a minibus abroad must pass the D1 test independently of when they passed their car-driving test. Documentation is also required: "Own account certificates" if the minibus is owned by the University and "Waybills" if the minibus is hired. Procurement has copies of these forms.

All minibuses owned or hired by the University must display a “small bus permit”. Contact Procurement for further information.

Please refer to the University's Code of Practice for the Safe Use of Minibuses PDF format.

Approval of Drivers to Drive Minibuses in Accordance with Minibus Code of Practice MS Word Icon.

6.34 Use of Mobile Phones Whilst Driving on University Business

It is illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving. Members of the University must not use hand-held mobile phones whilst driving any vehicle, including personally owned, university owned or hired to the University, whilst driving on University business. If it is necessary to be contactable whilst driving then the Head of School or Department may authorise a suitable hands-free kit, obtainable via the Telephone Services Manager.

Alternatively the phone should be left to divert to voicemail and answered at a safe time whilst not driving.

Wherever possible telephoning colleagues whilst they are driving should be avoided.

The University policy on use of mobile phones PDF formaton use of mobile phones whilst driving is published on the Safety Office website.


Safety Office

Pharmacy Building - Lower Ground Floor
University Park
University of Nottingham
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

Telephone: +44 (0)115 951 3401