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Managing health and safety in your department

Guidance for Heads of Department and Directors of Professional Services on how to ensure you are managing your health and safety responsibilities.

The role of HoDs and Directors

Departmental Heads and Directors of Professional Services have key health and safety responsibilities for the people and activities under their control.

We have developed the following guidance and checklist to ensure you understand your roles and responsibilities and help you manage the safety of your team.

We also have a wiki-based inspections toolkit for carrying out and recording departmental inspections.

Policies and standards

University policies and standards have been developed for a range of different health and safety activities, together with relevant guidance, checklists, templates and self-help training whenever possible. For ease of reference, we have published an A-Z of all current health and safety policies and standards.

The University's overarching health and safety policy sets out our commitment to securing the health and safety of all members of our community and the roles and responsibilities we each have to deliver this commitment.

Health and Safety Handbook

Departments are required to develop local arrangements to demonstrate how you will manage the risks from your work activities and comply with University policy. Such arrangements are often in the form of a handbook. All departmental handbooks, safety statements and other related documentation must reflect the University's core health and safety policy, and the advice and guidance provided by the our Safety, Health and Employee Wellbeing service. 

To assist in this goal, reduce duplication and improve consistency across the University, we have produced a Health and Safety Handbook template. The handbook can be used for both staff and students. 

The templates include elements which can be adapted to individual departments and therefore incorporate additional local rules or arrangements. It also includes an optional sign off sheet at the end. 

If you would like to provide constructive feedback on the templates, please contact the Safety, Health and Employee Wellbeing Service.

Managing contractors

You are responsible for ensuring any contractors employed by your department are managed in accordance with the University's management of contractors policy. In particular, you must:

  • only use competent contractors (please refer to our competency checklist)

  • ensure all contractors receive an appropriate induction. We have developed a generic contractor induction presentation that you can use for this purpose. You can add further information about local hazards or local rules, where applicable

  • gain advanced approval from Estates before you allow any work to be carried out on building fabric, services or infrastructure. This also applies to any work carried out by departmental staff

  • monitor your contractors at suitable intervals to make sure that they are working as agreed

  • report any accidents, incidents or near misses on the online incident form

Health and safety law poster

A copy of the HSE's health and safety law poster must be displayed in all buildings. Alternatively, departments can issue all staff with a copy of the HSE's free leaflet. Both of these resources are available on the HSE website.

Professional support for HoDs and Directors

The Safety, Health and Employee Wellbeing Service has both a strategic and operational role across all areas of the University's work activities, where these have a potential impact on health, safety and wellbeing. This means that the service is available and applicable to staff, students and contractors.

What we do:

  • offer advice and guidance on all health, safety and employee wellbeing matters

  • interpret and disseminate relevant legislation through policy and guidance

  • identify, and where resources permit, deliver training to enable health and safety responsibilities to be met

  • manage a system for the control and use of radioactive substances and hazardous waste

  • investigate and report on accidents and incidents to prevent reoccurrence

  • coordinate and manage an Occupational Health service and Employee Assistance Programme

  • manage an ongoing programme of audits and inspections to help ensure legal compliance and improve health and safety practice

  • liaise with the Health & Safety Executive, the Environment Agency, Police, Fire & Rescue Service and other regulatory authorities on matters of health and safety

If you need assistance, please contact a member of the team.


If you have any questions, please contact us.

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