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Departmental Health and Safety Policies


Why write a health and safety policy?

Departmental safety policies serve several useful functions:
• they give a local commitment to good health and safety standards;
• they outline what is expected of staff and students; and
• they detail any local safety arrangements.

It is a requirement of Safety Part 1 (Section 1.2) that Departments have a health and safety policy and this booklet is an expansion of the guidance given in that section.

How elaborate should the policy be?
This depends on the activities of the Department:
• in Departments where hazards are perceived as being low, the policy can be simple - possibly little more than the basic model policy in Appendix A; whereas
• in Departments with a wide range of hazards, the policy would need to be considerably more elaborate, though kept as concise as practicable.
Where possible, reference can be made to SITU Parts or other references rather than quoting them in full. The longer and more involved a document is, the less likely people are to read it.

What should the policy contain?
The policy should start with a series of management commitments E.g.:
• the importance of health and safety in enabling Departments to achieve their primary objectives;
• compliance with legal requirements as the minimum acceptable standard;
• commitment to planning, review and development of safety in order to achieve a continual improvement in performance and;
• provision of necessary financial and physical resources (within available limits).

The policy must then state clearly the responsibilities of:
• the Chair or Head of Department.;
• Departmental Safety Officers;
• other specifically nominated officers (Laser Safety Officer, Radiation Protection Officer, Contract Liaison Officer, Evacuation Wardens, Supervisory staff); and
• others with involvement in health and safety policy formulation, implementation and development.

For each person or group, the following should be stated:
• who they are responsible to;
• who or what they are responsible for;
• what their duties are; and
• any action they can take without further reference.
It is very important that people know exactly what is expected of them and the limits of their authority.

The policy should also outline the responsibilities and contributions to health and safety of:
• other staff (including temporary staff and work experience personnel);
• visitors (where appropriate); and
• students.

The policy should stress that:
• health and safety depends ultimately on the actions and omissions of individuals;
• a positive attitude to health and safety issues is expected; and
• everybody must:
- comply with appropriate legal requirements and University requirements as laid down in the publications that make up Safety;
- take reasonable care for their health and safety and that of others exposed to their activities;
- inform the DSO of any situations that, within the limits of their competence, they consider could give rise to serious or imminent danger or are shortcomings in safety arrangements.

Who should I consult with?
Departments have a duty to consult with their staff and the policy should specify how this is to be done. Both formal consultation (E.g. through safety committees) and more informal methods of contract should be used.

What Local Rules and Procedures should I include?
Departmental health and safety policies must be, however, supplemented with rules and guidance that is specific to the activities of the Department. Examples are:
1 Training and instruction procedures, E.g. for:
- use of machinery, equipment, apparatus and materials;
- manual handling;
- disposal of waste; and
- emergency action; etc
2 Equipment that can only be used by persons who have been suitably trained and authorised.
3 Safe systems at work and safe operating procedures for machinery etc.
4 Arrangements for discussion of new projects and developments with the Safety Officer/Trade Union Safety Representatives and other interested parties.
5 Use, transport, storage and disposal of chemicals, radiation/radioactive materials, hazardous micro-organisms, infectious materials, genetically modified organisms etc.
6 Action to be taken if specified precautions are not taken or warning signs and notices are not obeyed.
7 Reporting procedures for accidents and potentially dangerous incidents.
8 Use of personal protective equipment.
9 Processes requiring the use of special ventilation equipment, fume cupboards, glove boxes etc.
10 Procedures for ordering and assessing hazardous materials and items (E.g. COSHH assessments).
11 Storage of highly flammable liquids and other hazardous materials.
12 Location of first aiders.
13 Transport of hazardous goods and materials.
14 Rules applying to out of hours and lone working.
15 Fire and emergency procedures.

What should I do with the policy?
The Policy must be signed and dated by the Chair or Head of the Department.
Copies of the policy must be given to everybody in the Department: they should sign to say that they have received it.
Copies of policy documents and amendments must be sent to the Safety Office.
The Safety Office must be informed forthwith of any recommendations or requirements made by enforcing agencies (E.g. HSE, Environmental Agencies, Environmental Services, Ministry of Agriculture, Fire Service etc) that might necessitate changes to the policy, A date should be set for the next review of the policy.

When should I review the policy?
Departmental health and safety policies should be reviewed:
at least annually
- if there has been a change of activities with significant health and safety implications; or
- if there has been a serious accident or incident which reveals shortcomings in arrangements.
All employees in the Department must be informed of any charges in the policy following its review.

What records should I keep?
Suitable records of action to be taken in connection with health and safety policies must be kept. These should include:
- copies of policies and revisions;
- dates policies were reviewed and who was responsible for the review; and
- documents signed by employees and others acknowledging receipt of policy documents.

APPENDIX A - MODEL DEPARTMENTAL HEALTH AND SAFETY POLICY
1. The Department of …………………………….. considers that high standards of health and safety are of paramount importance in enabling it to achieve its objectives.
2. The Department views compliance with legal requirements as the minimum acceptable health and safety standard.
3. The Department is committed to planning, review and development of health and safety arrangements in order to achieve a continual improvement in performance.
4. In order to assist the Chair of the Department in the formation, implementation and development of safety policy, …………………………………… has been appointed as Departmental Safety Officer (DSO, tel. ……………….. ) in the absence of the DSO, queries should be addressed to ..............................................
5. ……………………………………. has been appointed as the Departmental Radiation Protection Supervisor (tel. ……………….. ).
6. The following people have been appointed as Fire Evacuation Wardens ......................................................................................
7. All staff, students and others working in the Department are expected to adopt a positive attitude to health and safety issues and must:
- comply with appropriate legal requirements and University requirements as laid down in the publications that make up Safety in the University (SITU);
- take reasonable care for their health and safety and that of others exposed to their activities;
- inform the DSO of any situations that, within the limits of their competence, they consider could give rise to serious or immanent danger or are shortcomings in
safety arrangements.
8. The Department will make suitable arrangements for health and safety within the limits of available financial and physical resources.
9. Information on health and safety is communicated to people working in the Department as follows

Signed ………………………………………… Chair
Date ……………………………

(Safety documents specific to the Department should be attached)