Health and Safety

Leading Health and Safety at Work

This webpage is essential reading for those who the University deems responsible for leading and managing health and safety. It is of particular relevance to senior managers and leaders but also applies to line managers and supervisors.

A proactive approach to health and safety management is imperative for legal, financial, and moral reasons. The primary legal requirements arise out of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992. These are supplemented by many codes of specific regulations, often related to a particular hazard or activity. Significant penalties can be incurred for non-compliance with health and safety legislation. There is also provision for enforcement notices to prohibit activities immediately or to make specific improvements within a certain timescale.

Effective and engaged leadership is integral to developing and maintaining good standards that enable innovative work to be undertaken safely and in compliance with regulatory requirements.

(See Related Links for relevant presentations.)

The University Health and Safety Policy delegates duties to the heads of the management units to enable the statutory responsibilities to be discharged. These relate to establishing, and being effectively involved in, an organisational structure within the management unit that enables safety arrangements to be devised, implemented, monitored and reviewed.

The University health and safety management standard "Effective Safety Management" describes the framework for achieving this. For leaders and managers, the key elements are:

    • Ensuring suitable and sufficient risk assessment of the key hazards
    • Ensuring the competence of those engaged in the work through information, instruction and training
    • Ensuring adequate supervision and monitoring to ensure that the procedures remain valid, i.e. that:
        • The nature of the work has not changed and altered the risk,
        • They are being followed, and
        • Appropriate standards are being achieved.
    • Awareness of expectations on health and safety standards and responsibilities at all levels of the management structure - it is everybody's responsibility.


Corporate Manslaughter


The offence of Corporate Manslaughter has been introduced for the most serious situations involving a fatality where the safety management system, or culture (i.e. custom and practice or "the way things are done around here"), falls far short of expected standards. The attitudes and actions of those in positions to direct or control workplace standards and activities would be scrutinised. Relevant factors include:

    • attitudes, policies, systems or accepted practices that were likely to have encouraged any unsafe practices or to have produced tolerance of it.
    • the collective behaviour of senior management and evidence of broader attitudes towards safety within the organisation and its culture.

A 10-minute Podcast on the Legal Services webpage provides an overview. This is supported by information for managers and principal investigators in managing health and safety. University policies and guidance are aimed at managing the risks to ensure that the correct standards are in place and thereby avoid situations that could result in enforcement activity of which corporate manslaughter is at one extreme.

Sector Guidance for Leading Health and Safety

Further information is also contained in sector guidance on leading health and safety at work that has been developed by UCEA and USHA. This is derived from the Institute of Directors/HSE guidance. The key features of this are:

Strong and active leadership from the top:

    • visible, active commitment from the governing body;
    • establishing effective ‘downward’ communication systems and management structures;
    • integration of good health and safety management with business decisions.

Worker involvement:

    • engaging the workforce in the promotion and achievement of safe and healthy conditions;
    • effective ‘upward’ communication;
    • providing high quality training.

Assessment and review:

    • identifying and managing health and safety risks;
    • accessing (and following) competent advice;
    • monitoring, reporting and reviewing performance. 

Health and Safety Department

Pharmacy Building (Building 63)
University Park
University of Nottingham
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

Telephone: Telephone: +44 (0)115 9513401
Email: h&