skip to primary navigationskip to content

Departmental Safety Policy

A printable copy of this document is here.

Department of Physics Statement

Scanned statement

Note: The Bioogical Safety Officer is now Dr S Bohndiek, from March 2014


Organisation for Safety

Responsibilities of The Head of Department

In discharging his/her responsibilities, the Head of Department is responsible for ensuring that:

  1. There is a Policy, which sets out the Departmental arrangements for
  2. assessing and controlling risk so as to ensure that teaching and research are conducted in a safe fashion, reducing risk to acceptable levels;
  3. giving training, including induction, to ensure that the duties relating to safety in the Department are generally understood;
  4. nominating suitable individuals to take charge of, and manage, emergency situations;
  5. there is a Departmental Safety and Environment Committee;
  6. the fabric, equipment and services are kept in a safe condition and ensuring that proper steps are taken to remedy defects;
  7. regular safety inspections are made in the Department.
  8. there is a Departmental Safety Officer, Fire Safety Manager, Radiation Protection Supervisor, Laser Safety Officer and Biological Safety Officer.

Day to day implementation of the Departmental Safety policy has been delegated by the Head of Department to the Departmental Safety Officer, other safety advisers, Heads of Research Groups and their senior Staff. Matters affecting safety must be given a high priority and any delay must be reported to the Departmental Safety Officer.

Departmental Safety and Environment Committee

The Department has a committee to oversee the department's policy on health, safety and environmental matters.

Committee Meetings will be held not less than three times per year, organised by the Department Safety Officer. Additional meetings may be called if there is a requirement. The Committee will consider any relevant safety or environmental matter brought to its attention from inside or outside the Department and make recommendations to the relevant staff. Minutes from the meetings shall be circulated to committee members, heads of groups, workshops and classes, and a copy placed on the 'phy-only' part of the website. A copy shall also be sent to the University Safety Office. Access to the committee is the right of all persons working within the department. Safety and environmental matters that individuals wish to raise may be discussed with their safety representative or directly with the Safety Officer.

Terms of reference of the Committee

The purposes of the Safety and Environment Committee shall be:-

  1. To stimulate the interest of all members of the department in matters relating to the health and safety of all Departmental staff and students.
  2. To create an active safety culture and to encourage the participation of all persons working within the department.
  3. To formulate departmental policy on health and safety matters.
  4. To investigate breaches of health and safety guidelines.
  5. Make arrangements for regular safety inspections and audits in the Department.
  6. To investigate and review accidents/incidents/near misses and recommend action to avoid a recurrence.

Composition of the Departmental Safety and Environment Committee

The composition of the Departmental Safety and Environment Committee shall be:-

Head of Department (Chairman), or nominee
Departmental Safety Officer (Secretary)
Laboratory Superintendent
A Representative from: each Research Group,
  First Aiders,
Specialist Safety Advisers: Chemical,
  Ionising Radiation,

The current membership of the committee is on this page.

and the recent minutes of the committee are available on this page.

An individual may represent more than one of the above roles simultaneously, so long as no conflict of interest occurs. Representatives finding themselves unable to attend a meeting should attempt to find a suitable person to deputise for them.

Others may be invited on a temporary or permanent basis, in the light of developments. In addition, members of the Safety Committee may call on the services of the staff of the University Safety Division.

Responsibilities of the Departmental Safety Officer

The Department Safety Officer is responsible for:

  1. Management of health and safety within the laboratory, reporting to the Head of Department;
  2. Fulfilling the roles of Fire Safety Manager and Lead Radiation Protection Supervisor;
  3. Management of the Department Health and Safety Committee;
  4. Providing Annual reports to the Head of Department;
  5. Working with safety representatives to develop best practice in all areas;
  6. Day-to-day liaison with the University Safety Office;
  7. Maintaining a comprehensive overview of current research and all relevant safety legislation, and providing appropriate advice;
  8. Organising safety training for staff and students;
  9. Liaising and/or advising on first aid, fire, security, building safety, occupational health issues and environmental policy;
  10. Assisting members of the laboratory to carry out risk assessments and ensuring their implementation;
  11. Preparing reports on health and safety for external bodies;
  12. Defining and implementing audit procedures to ensure that safety issues are being dealt with according to legislation in a reliable, sympathetic and timely manner.

Responsibilities of Persons With a Supervisory Role

Everyone having a supervisory role in the University, at whatever level, is expected as far as is reasonably practicable, to ensure that the risk assessments for their area and activities are adequate. He or she should satisfy him/herself that risks are controlled to the level demanded by the law, the University or Department Codes of Practice. He/she should ensure that all who work in the area or with the equipment understand the hazards and their consequences, the risks, and what measures they should take to reduce those risks to the level demanded by the University or Department Codes of Practice and the law. Supervisors are also responsible for ensuring that the safe operating procedures defined by the risk assessments are actually followed.

Where machinery and equipment are used the person in charge of that section is responsible for ensuring that only authorised persons are allowed to operate the machinery and equipment and that supervision is provided, commensurate with the experience of the operator.

Responsibilities of the individual

Day to day safety in the Department is primarily an individual's personal responsibilityand this is complemented by the duty imposed on academic staff and technicians in charge of sections/laboratories to take reasonable care of persons under their supervision. The line Manager, Departmental Safety Officer, members of the Safety Committee and/or the University Safety Office should be consulted if advice is required. Any member of the Department is entitled to query the activities of another with regard to the safety aspects of the task.

All employees have a statutory duty to take reasonable care of their own health and safety and of other persons who may be affected by their acts or omissions at work. They are required to co-operate with their employer to enable the employer to comply with his statutory duties. Students have a common law duty to take care of themselves and others. The Department provides safety training, and staff and students should all attend the core presentations, supplemented by the specialist presentations relevant to their work.

All employees and others on the site have a duty to report accidents, incidents and near misses. This is primarily for the purpose of investigation in order to learn from our mistakes and deficiencies in order to prevent further incidents. Forms for reporting accidents etc are on the Department Safety webpages.

It is illegal intentionally or recklessly to interfere with or misuse anything provided in the interests of health, safety or welfare, and this would include over-riding interlocks on equipment, removing insulating covers from electrical apparatus, removing earth wires, etc.

Staff responsible for the safety of both undergraduate and postgraduate students should take into account their relative inexperience at their particular stage of training. That inexperience is likely to encompass all areas - knowledge of their legal responsibilities, their ability to identify hazards, their ability to design and undertake successful and safe experiments, their ability accurately to assess risk and their knowledge of the safety technology available to them. It is the responsibility of the staff to make them aware, and to educate them in all these areas, as appropriate to the work being carried out, and in a depth that is appropriate to the stage they have reached in their education.

Visitors to the Department

It is the responsibility of the visitor's supervisor or contact to ensure:-

  1. That the visitor is appraised of the fire arrangements as soon as they arrive
  2. That the visitor attends the Department Induction meeting, if they are to be here for more than one month
  3. That, if the visitor is to be in the Department to undertake experimental work, he/she is given the results of any existing risk assessments, advised of the control measures and systems of work, and informed of any residual risks known to the supervisor. Where the visitor is to adapt the work, they should be given assistance in dertaking their own risk assessments, where necessary.
  4. That the equipment that is to be used by the visitor is maintained in a safe condition, and that the visitor is competent to use it safely.
  5. That the visitor is provided with any personal protective equipment that is needed, and shown how to use it.
  6. That the visitor uses the protective equipment correctly, and maintains it in efficient working order.
  7. That the supervisor or contact ensures that the visitor conducts his/her business in a safe manner in compliance with any University, department or local rules./li>
  8. It shall be a condition of entry that all visitors working in the department shall comply with the rules of the department, and those of the University. In particular, visitors should attend Safety Training Courses appropriate to their work.

The Head of Department reserves the right to withdraw some or all Departmental facilities to visitors who fail to comply fully with Departmental and University safety rules.

Distribution of Information

The Department Statement of Policy, the University Statement of Policy and documents covering emergency and safety procedures, will be distributed within the Department, together with any amendments that may be made from time to time.

  1. The Rayleigh Library holds a collection of Health and Safety information reference material (section O3)
  2. The departmental safety committee includes individuals who have expertise in specific areas relating to Health and Safety and have documentation specific to their area of expertise.
  3. Where appropriate, groups have prepared safe working practice documents that supplement the University and Departmental policy documents. It is suggested that the group safety representative should be responsible for the distribution of group documentation.
  4. Minutes of the Safety and Environment Committee meetings, and the Annual Reports compiled by the Department Safety Officer are circulated to heads of groups and sections for action/discussion/feedback.
  5. The Department has safety pages on its website, here, on which are Codes of Practice, emergency arrangements and advice. The minutes of the Committee meetings are posted to the site onto pages that are only visible within the Cavendish Laboratory.

This page was last updated on 25 January 2014