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Department of Physics

The Cavendish Laboratory
Revised 8/03/2022 to reflect current working arrangements. Reviewed 13/07/2022: procedures remain the same.


1.          Working Hours and Premises Access Policy

1.1. The POLICY of the Department of Physics at the Cavendish Laboratory (‘the Laboratory’ or 'the Department') is to provide members of the Department and our authorized collaborators with as much open access to research and teaching facilities as is compatible with the requirements of security and health and safety, including at times of lockdown.

1.2.  PROCEDURES are in place to protect the health and safety of everyone who uses or visits the Laboratory, and to keep the site secure. Permitted activities (as defined in this document) must therefore be carried out as outlined below. Working hours may be restricted if there are special requirements during a pandemic. Arrangements are in place for authorising access.  The Head of Department or Departmental Administrator will notify those registered at Physics when there are major changes to these arrangements. Please also see the Laboratory Covid-19 pages for latest details of measures relating to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Buildings Occupancy Register Terminal 021.3.  RISKS OF 'LONE WORKING' - The Cavendish Laboratory is not always fully occupied and we do not have enough fire wardens to cover all areas. Many people work on their own ('LONE WORKERS') and may not get help quickly if they are injured on the premises. The risk of injury is much higher for people doing practical work, including (but not limited to) practical laboratory work, maintenance, machinery/premises repairs, cleaning and workshop tasks. Therefore all practical work on or off the premises is considered at least "medium risk". Every person doing this medium risk work on their own must arrange to have a "buddy" at whatever time they do practical work. They must ensure the person they nominate as their buddy has agreed to act as one, and that both people are clear about what to do if there is an emergency. If you are working in an office, although you are at lower risk of injury, you may still become ill and need help quickly. You must make sure someone knows you are working in the Department. Please read sections 4.3 (Lone Working) and 6 (The Buddy System) below. 

1.4 SIGNING IN - The premises are never fully occupied and many parts of buildings have very few occupants, and we cannot rely on having enough fire wardens on the premises. Therefore people using the Department's premises must sign in to the 'Buildings Occupancy Register' or BOR (previously known as the 'Out of Hours Register') when they enter a Physics building, and sign out when they leave it. This involves tapping your card on the IN or OUT boxes attached to the screens and takes less than 15 seconds each time.

In an emergency evacuation, we will print off a list of people present and do a 'roll call' at the Assembly Point. The Assembly Point will now be in one location only - the green area opposite the Bragg Building. It is therefore essential for you to update your details on the BOR, giving your first and last name, office/lab/workshop landline number and your personal emergency (mobile) number so we can find you if you are trapped and cannot leave the building. Your Buddy or Office Partner can also check if you have left safely. Out of normal working hours, your Buddy or Office Partner will be your main helpers.

Signing-in procedures will be different for Lord's Bridge - please check with site staff.

1.5   ACCESS to the Laboratory is a privilege granted with evidence of appropriate training and competence. It may be suspended if the Head of Department (HoD), the Department Silver Team or Principal Investigators (PIs) / supervisors/ managers or the Department Safety Manager consider any person to be acting in a way that puts themselves and/or others at risk. By entering the Department you are agreeing to comply with its policies and follow the Department arrangements for safe working (as shown on the H&S webpages). You are also agreeing to keep up to date with what to do in a first aid or evacuation emergency, and to read the red/green/white "Emergencies" poster which is in every work room.

2.           Application of these procedures

2.1.  These policy and procedures apply to anyone given access to work at the Department in accordance with the procedures currently in place. This includes staff, students, registered visitors and staff of embedded companies.

2.2.  Contractors, suppliers and other day visitors (i.e. people without access cards), may attend the Department by prior notification to . They must be supervised by their host at all times so they follow safety and health rules for their own and our protection. Equipment users from other departments also have access - see this page: How To Get Access to Cavendish Laboratory Buildings.

2.3.  Anyone found to be in the buildings without authorization or not complying with the published procedures, will be asked to leave and may be removed by Security or others. They may also lose their access rights.

2.4.  During lockdowns, exceptions to working hours be granted by application of your PI, supervisor or manager (collectively 'the manager') to the Department Silver Team by email to , giving details of what is proposed and why, when and where.

3.            Working hours - definitions

3.1.  DAYTIME HOURS - Staff, students and visitors authorised to work at the Cavendish Laboratory are encouraged to work during the DAYTIME HOURS of 0800 to 1700 Monday to Friday (except Bank Holidays), when Main Reception is open and first aiders are on site. However, it is accepted that some experimental and other work will have to take place out of these hours because of the nature of the projects.

3.2  'OUT of HOURS' is defined as any time outside of Daytime Hours, that is:

  •  After 1700 and before 0800 on Monday to Friday
  •  All day on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays

       You are permitted to work OUT of HOURS so long as you:

  • comply with the requirements of this procedure, and in particularl items 4.3, 5 and 6 below
  • have the overall approval of your supervisor/manager - that is, you do not need to ask permission for every session, but you must have their general agreement that you may work out of hours if necessary
  • have your supervisor/manager's specific permission to work overnight as an exception, if this cannot be avoided. If this is the case, email:  giving the reason, location and expected work hours.


4.             Work during DAYTIME Hours

4.1 Permitted work - People with access may come in and carry out work authorised by their managers. There may be rotas and room booking systems in place in some areas depending on the security situation - see local notices for details of what you can / must do. You are expected to read the Friday news bulletins from Physics Communication to keep up to date with any changes.

4.2  Rest Areas and Offices - Please eat or rest outside whenever possible. Restriction on office use remain until we are satisfied that ventilation levels are enough to prevent transfer of virus by people without symptoms. The canteen and other eating areas are available for rest and eating. Please maintain 1m+ distance to minimise the chance of infection in these areas, and open windown whenever possible.  at a time for rest or work, and appropriate door notices have been put up. 

4.3 'Lone Working' - If you are working alone in any room at any time, you are at increased risk if you need first aid and no one knows where you are. The Buildings Occupancy Register will tell us if you are in the building in an evacuation emergency, but won't tell us if you are ill or injured. When there is reduced building occupancy, the risk of you seeing no one increases.

  • If you plan to do practical work alone in a lab, workshop or isolated place: You must ensure there is a suitable risk assessment for your practical work and that it takes account of the extra risks of working alone. This includes having a "buddy" on the premises, with details of how/how often you will keep in touch, as most buddies will be in another room. See section 6 below for details of the Buddy System.
  • If you plan to work alone in an Office: Make sure someone in or out of the Department knows you are on site, where and for how long. This does not need to be a "buddy", but someone who will keep in touch with you if there is a problem, and can alert a person in the Department to come and see if you are OK. We call this person your "Office Partner" - they can be your lab buddy if you have one, your supervisor, or someone outside the Department, such as a friend, relative or housemate. They do not need to be in the same area as you.

Office Partner - What to do

Make sure your Office Partner has your office desk phone (land line) and mobile phone numbers, knows where you will be (room number and building) and tell them when you arrive on and leave the site. This is good practice regardless of the Covid-19 pandemic arrangements and should continue as standard practice. If you don't contact your Office Partner as agreed, they should first try your landline or mobile to check if you are OK. If you don't answer when they call, they should next phone the Physics Reception (01223 337200) during daytime hours, or Security (01223 331818) during evening hours, and ask for your room to be checked to ensure you are alright.

4.4 Higher Risk Work - All work must be risk assessed and managed so the risks are medium or lower. However, there are activities that might become high risk if something goes wrong, such as in work with Piranha or Hydrofluoric Acid solutions. These require a 'buddy' to be present in the room at all times and will also need a first aider to be on standby. 

4.5 Buildings Occupancy Register - Buildings Occupancy Register Terminal 01Sign in or out of every building as you enter or leave, by tapping your access card on the Buildings Occupancy Register (called BOR for short - formerly known as the 'Out of Hours Register'). This takes around 10 seconds or less each time. You can also use a web-enabled device such as your desktop, a smartphone or tablet to access the system at:

You are required to update your details on the BOR (at the above link) with your full name, emergency contact (mobile) number, lab landline number, building and main room where you will be working. Please ensure that Cavendish HR team (if you are a staff member) always has the most up to date details of who to call if you are involved in an emergency - the Graduate Office already has this information for graduate students via CamSIS. 

The BOR is in place so we can confirm to the Fire and Rescue Service that buildings are empty in the event of an evacuation emergency. This is essential as we cannot rely on fire wardens being on site since buildings are never fully occupied. BOR information is seen by the emergency and safety teams and is not available to managers. The Department may be forced to close or remove access if we don't know how many people are on site and where.

You may not allow entry to anyone other than yourself: Do not hold doors open for other users of the Laboratory

The Security and Safety teams regularly tour the buildings. They may ask anyone who is not signed in to leave the premises, and may report details to the Head of Department, Departmental Safety Manager, and Laboratory Superintendent for further action, which can include suspension of access privileges.

4.6  First aid and other emergencies - During DAYTIME hours only , first aiders will be on the premises and can be contacted via the Emergency Number: 01223 337499. See the red/green/white "Emergencies" poster (which is in every room) for details of how to get first aid and other emergency help. This information was given to you during your induction.

4.7  Support - Activities that require the presence of support/assistant staff must only be carried out during DAYTIME hours, unless you have made a specific arrangement with their managers.

4.8  Day visitors, contractors, suppliers - People whose work is necessary to the continuation of research and/or maintaining safety may visit the Department during DAYTIME hours if their visit has been arranged in advance through the Physics Reception (or during lockdown by emailing They must be supervised at all times. If you need urgent repairs to make equipment safe, notify Reception during DAYTIME hours and contact University Security on 01223 331818 at other times.

5.              Work permitted OUT OF HOURS

5.1.  Laboratory research and other permitted work (see 3.2 and 4.1 above) may be done OUT OF HOURS, providing it has previously been agreed with the appropriate PI or manager, or the registered graduate supervisor in the case of research students. As usual, it is the responsibility of these people to ensure a suitable risk assessment is in place, and precautions are taken to minimize and control risks. Buddy requirements apply as in daytime - see item 6 below.

5.2   Higher risk work is not permitted out of DAYTIME hours when first aiders are not available, unless you have arranged for an appropriate first aider to on the premises. An example of such higher risk work, is use of hydrofluoric acid (HF).

5.3   If you work out of hours, it is advisable for you to ensure someone outside the Department also knows where you are, and who to contact (e.g. your buddy's name and number) if they become concerned about your wellbeing.

Please note that the occupancy of the building is monitored via the entry/exit systems so that we can stay compliant with University and other requirements.

6.               Lone Working - the 'Buddy' System

6.1  People doing practical work ALONE in a lab, workshop or other location need to do the following (if you are working in an office, see item 4.3 above).

If you are working alone and are suddenly taken ill or have an accident, you may not be found by another person for some time, causing your condition to become worse and more serious. This is even more likely during periods where there are fewer people on the premises (e.g. out of hours or during national lockdowns). In an emergency, the BOR helps us to check everyone has evacuated buildings, but will not tell us if people are injured, unconscious or need help. The "Buddy System" is in place to manage these risks which exist during the day as well as out of hours.

6.2 A ‘buddy’ is a Department access card holder who has a general idea of the risks of your work (e.g. that you work with asphyxiant gases) and knows how to get help if you don’t respond, are injured or taken ill. For example, they know that if an oxygen alarm goes off, this means there is a problem with breathing in a room. They do not need to understand the detailed risks of your work.

The buddy will usually be a member of your own work team, but could be a colleague from a nearby team. In the case of lone first aiders and Maintenance or Cleaning staff, it could be another colleague/manager who is contactable by two-way radio. You can only nominate a person as your buddy if they have agreed to the arrangement with you - DO NOT nominate people who don't know you want them as a buddy.

6.3  For regular practical work in the Department (considered as "medium risk"), your buddy must be on site when you are, and must be able to get to the door of your work room within 3 minutes. If they are outside your building, they must have access to enter your building as well as their own. If you share a laboratory or work room with someone else, you will be each other's buddy.

6.4   For practial work that is higher risk if it goes wrong: Your buddy must be present in the same room as you, and a first aider must be able to get to you within a few minutes and have been 'booked' before the start of work (they can be the same person as the buddy if they are trained). IF there are pandemic requirements in place at the time, consider how to keep yourself and your buddy free from infection and include this in your out of hours risk assessment.

6.5  Devices for contacting your buddy Teams - If your work could contaminate your (gloved or clean) hands with chemicals or other hazardous materials (including the SARS-Cov-2 virus) you should avoid using your mobile phone in the lab. Any contamination on your phone will transfer to your face and un-gloved hands later. The same applies to the use of phones in toilet areas. To contact your buddy, you can use:

  • the 'landline' desk phones in the majority of Department labs 
  • computers in your lab with MS Teams, which is supported by the University and an easy way to stay in touch. Other platforms are permitted but beware of online security issues.(
  • (if there is no other option) mobile phones with Apps that do not require you to put the phone to your face (e.g. WhatsApp). Clean and sanitise your phone before using it outside the lab again so any contamination is removed. 

6.6  Contact frequency - You and your buddy should overlap on site (a few minutes of being on your own is not a problem). If you go to lunch/out independently, make sure you have another buddy for that period. If your buddy has left the site and is not contactable, they cannot help you! If your buddy has to leave, they must let you know and if you can't find another, you will need to suspend practical work until your buddy is available again.

How often you contact each other will depend on how high the risks of your work and personal circumstances are. If you are in good health and your work is medium risk, you could contact your buddy when you arrive and leave, and once or twice in the middle of the working period. If your work is higher risk or you have significant personal risk factors, you could decide to contact each other more often. 'Contact' could be a very short text message and a reply to say it was received.

6.6  What to do if there is no reply:  Plan with your buddy what to do if one of you does not make contact as agreed or does not reply. We recommend that if there is no response at the agreed time, you first call your buddy's landline or mobile phone (in an emergency only) - which means you must have both numbers. If there is still no response, you should either go to the door of their workroom within 3 minutes, or call an agreed third person who can check on them (for example, the lab manager or their supervisor). If there is no vision panel on the door of the room and you can't see the person, knock loudly on the door. If there is still no reply or you can see the person is in distress, call the Emergency Number 01223 337499.  If the person seems to be in severe distress, call an ambulance on 999 first, then call the Emergency Number for first aiders. If your buddy is well but failed to answer, find out the reason and agree a better system that will work better for you both next time.


Everyone must sign in to the Buildings Occupancy Register at the entrance to each building, and sign out at the Register on exiting that building.

Failure to do so may result in the withdrawal of access privileges.


The online signing-in Register is at