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Health and Safety policy

The University’s policy setting out our commitment to ensuring the health, safety and welfare of all members of the University community.


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Approval date
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Approved by
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Date of last review
12 Dec 2023
Date of next review
11 Dec 2024


This policy applies to every aspect of the University of Bath’s business including all educational, research, commercial, residential, recreational and management activities.

The Policy describes:

  • the University’s commitment to discharge its duty of care to anyone potentially impacted by its undertaking

  • the organisation roles and responsibilities of specified employees, and the arrangements in force to secure the health, safety and welfare of all people to whom it owes a duty of care

  • the policy also sets out the expectations on employees, students, and contractors to support the University’s efforts to provide a safe and healthy workplace and to meet their own individual duty of care to others

This policy is supported by a range of other policies, standards and guidance that may impose additional duties on specified employees in addition to those in this policy.


Health and safety law imposes a duty of care on various parties to protect the health, safety and welfare of others who may be affected by their acts or omissions at work. The main duty of care established is that of the employer to their employees. However, there are also duties on employees, the self-employed, occupiers of premises, designers and manufacturers or suppliers of articles or substances.

For employers, their primary duty of care is established through the employer-employee relationship in which the employer is required to protect employees from significant risks to their health, safety and welfare arising out of the employer’s undertakings. This duty of care is discharged by identifying significant risks to employees and implementing control measures, so far as is reasonably practicable, to reduce risks to an acceptable level.

Employers also have a duty of care to protect the health, safety and welfare of anyone else who may be affected by their undertaking. Employers may delegate the performance of certain tasks to others, for example through the line management structure or by contracting out to third parties, but the responsibility for ensuring that the duty of care has been met remains with them. Consequently, employers need to implement suitable governance arrangements to provide the necessary reassurance that delegated tasks, including those contracted out to third parties, have actually been carried out, and to take appropriate corrective action where this is found not to be the case. The extent of any monitoring should be proportionate to the degree of risk created.

Health and safety law also imposes a duty of care on individuals to protect the health, safety and welfare of anyone who may be affected by the individual’s acts or omissions in the course of carrying out their employer’s undertaking. The extent of this duty will depend on the degree of control that the individual has over the way in which work tasks are performed.



There is no legal definition of competence. However, in a health and safety context this is generally understood to mean having the required skills, expertise, experience and training to carry out a required task safely.


Case law has established that, in the context of health and safety law, “undertaking” has a very wide-meaning and includes not only core business activities and functions, but also any ancillary activities, such as the cleaning and maintenance and repair of buildings, plant or equipment associated with the employer’s business regardless of who performs these activities.

So far as is reasonably practicable

This principle is applied to the management of risks and whether a duty holder has done enough to meet their duty of care. Case law has defined this as being about weighing risk against the effort (time, expense, resources) needed to further reduce it. The law presumes that the balance of this judgement should be in favour of reducing the risk. It is only if the effort is grossly disproportionate to the risk that this standard can be deemed to have been met.

Policy statement

At the University of Bath, we recognise that good standards of health, safety and welfare are an integral part of good management. The sensible and proportionate management of risk supports innovation and sustainability. This, coupled with the provision of safe and healthy work, living and social spaces contributes to our key strategic aims of providing excellence in teaching and research, in world class facilities which enable people to flourish and to achieve their full potential.

We aim to meet our health, safety and welfare commitments, so far as is reasonably practicable, by:

  • providing effective leadership and resources and access to competent advice across the organisation to enable agreed health, safety and welfare standards to be met

  • clearly defining roles and responsibilities so that all members of the campus community are clear of the contribution they are expected to make to securing their own health, safety and welfare and that of others who may be affected by their acts or omissions

  • achieving legal compliance, as a minimum, but striving for good or best practice where it is appropriate and proportionate to do so

  • establishing health and safety as a key component of Business as Usual. Our planning processes will include identification and assessment of the significant risks associated with our business activities and we will act on these findings by implementing sensible and proportionate control measures to reduce significant risks of injury, ill-health and damage to property or the environment

  • developing and implementing a safety management system and associated arrangements, including arrangements to consult employees and students, to identify agreed performance standards and the means by which the achievement of these will be monitored and reviewed in order to secure continuous improvement

  • providing adequate information, instruction, training and supervision to our employees, students, partners and contractors to encourage ownership of health, safety and welfare matters and to enable each person to carry out their duties safely and to contribute to the overall delivery of the aims of this policy

  • working with employees, students and their elected and appointed representatives, to make sure that they are consulted on matters of health and safety and can contribute to the development of our safety management system and arrangements

  • taking appropriate, timely and proportionate corrective and preventative actions to manage intolerable risks identified by monitoring, auditing and investigative activities

We will review, and where necessary revise, our policy at suitable intervals (biennially or following any significant health and safety event or material change in organisation or arrangements) to ensure that it continues to reflect our commitment and stated aims.

Mrs Pamela Chesters CBE, Chair of Council and Professor Ian White, Vice-Chancellor and President, 18th November 2021

Organisation roles and responsibilities

The following section sets out individual roles, responsibilities and accountabilities for managing health, safety and welfare issues at the University. All defined organisation roles, responsibilities and accountabilities are subject to the caveat of 'so far as is reasonably practicable'.

1) University Council

Ultimate responsibility for health and safety matters within the University sits with University Council. Council is the University’s governing body and as such is responsible for:

  • setting and monitoring University strategy and policy, including the overarching health and safety policy

  • monitoring health and safety performance and seeking appropriate reassurance that health and safety performance is satisfactory

  • recommending and monitoring improvements where health and safety performance is found to be unsatisfactory

Council has delegated management responsibility for health, safety and welfare matters to the Vice-Chancellor.

2) Vice-Chancellor

The Vice-Chancellor is is the principal executive officer of the University and is accountable to Council for the implementation of the University’s health and safety policy and for monitoring health and safety performance.

Council has delegated executive authority to the Vice Chancellor to set specific health and safety policy and for agreeing University performance standards for the management of health, safety and welfare matters.

The Vice-Chancellor has delegated executive accountability for the delivery of specific aspects of day-to day health and safety matters through University Executive Board and the associated line management structures. The role of University Executive Board and specified individual members is described below.

3) University Executive Board

The activities and operation of the University are directed and controlled by UEB and the associated line management structures. UEB, under the leadership of the Vice-Chancellor, is the forum where delegated authority to make changes to policy, including health and safety policy, is exercised. UEB will consider and attempt to resolve health and safety implications arising from the strategic and operational decisions that it makes.

UEB receive regular reports on organisational health and safety performance on a quarterly basis via the minutes of the University’s Health and Safety Committee.

The general and specific health and safety roles and responsibilities of members of UEB are described below.

3.1) Deans and Heads of School

Deans and Heads of School are accountable to the Vice-Chancellor for the line management of the Heads of Department / Directors within the faculty. In practice this means having a broad understanding of the risks associated with works carried out within their school or faculty and making routine enquiries of their Heads of Department, and where necessary asking for suitable evidence to be provided, to ensure that significant health, safety and welfare risks are being appropriately managed. Feedback on health and safety performance, including any actions taken to improve performance, should be provided to the Vice-Chancellor.

3.2) Chief Operating Officer

The COO is accountable to the Vice-Chancellor for the effective management of health and safety within the Professional Services areas falling within their line management. The key responsibility placed on the Chief Operating Officer is to make routine enquiries of direct reports, including where necessary making requests for supporting information to be provided, to satisfy themselves that health and safety responsibilities are being correctly managed. Where issues with health and safety performance are identified then the Chief Operating Officer should agree actions with the relevant Director. Significant issues should be brought to the attention of the Vice-Chancellor. General feedback on health and safety performance should be provided to the Vice-Chancellor as relevant.

3.3) Director of Human Resources

The Director of Human Resources (HR) has been appointed by the Vice-Chancellor to ensure that the University has effective arrangements in place to consult members of the University community on matters of health and safety. The Director of HR chairs the University’s Health and Safety Committee. In this capacity, the Director of HR has delegated authority to approve certain health and safety policies, standards and guidance agreed at University. Where such instruments are likely to impact the University on a wider basis, then the Director of HR is responsible for bringing these to University Executive Board for consideration.

3.4) Pro Vice-Chancellors

The Pro Vice-Chancellors have a strategic role in determining policy and direction. Aside from the management of their office staff or the projects they lead, for which they are accountable to the Vice-Chancellor, they do not form part of the line management arrangements of the University.

3.5 General Responsibilities of University Executive Board Members

Members of UEB are accountable to their line manager for health, safety and welfare matters in their line management chain. These responsibilities are described in the Heads of Department and Directors of Professional Services section, below.

4) Line Management

4.1) Heads of Department, Faculty Directors and Directors of Professional Services

Heads of Department, Faculty Directors and Directors of Professional Services are accountable for the health and safety and welfare at work of all the staff that they line manage and for others whose health or safety may be affected, to any extent, by the work of their department, directorate or service.

To properly carry out this role, they will need to:

  • have an appropriate awareness of University health and safety policy, standards and guidance and the minimum requirements of legislation as they relate to the work of their department, directorate or service

  • have a broad understanding of the significant risks associated with the work carried out by their department, directorate or service and ensure that significant risks have been assessed and that suitable and sufficient control measures are implemented. This task may be delegated to individual line managers or specific individuals but the responsibility for ensuring this is done remains with the relevant Head of Department or Director

  • produce a departmental health, safety and welfare handbook describing the local arrangements for securing the health, safety and welfare of staff and the health and safety of students and anyone else potentially affected by department, directorate or service’s activities. This document should define the roles and responsibilities for health and safety within their department, directorate or service

  • appoint sufficient numbers of competent people, such as a Departmental Health and Safety Coordinator, to assist with the management of health, safety and welfare matters

  • allocate sufficient resources to ensure that health, safety and workplace welfare issues, including any matters arising, are appropriately managed or resolved

  • ensure that departmental / divisional staff and students receive any necessary training, information, supervision and instruction required in order to carry out their work safely

  • consult staff on significant matters that may affect health, safety or welfare at work. This requirement will either be satisfied by having a regular agenda item at management meetings, or, where the health and safety risk profile makes it appropriate, to establish a specific departmental, directorate or service health and safety committee

  • carry out a health and safety inspection of the premises occupied at suitable periods throughout the year and ensure that the significant outcomes of these inspections are recorded. The school or service health and safety meeting or committee should consider the risks presented by the work taking place in the premises and the standards achieved and if necessary implement more frequent inspections. Remedial action taken in response to the inspection should be reported through departmental management meetings or the departmental health and safety committee where one is appointed

  • satisfy themselves, by making suitable and sufficient enquiries, that any other duty holders providing services to the department (for example contractors or other University functions) are competent and are adequately meeting their duties

  • cooperate with other duty holders to enable them to meet their duties under this policy or any supporting policy, standards or guidance

  • complete the annual health and safety self-assurance return

  • make appropriate reports to their line manager, on the health and safety performance achieved and on their plans to address any identified concerns

4.2) Line Managers and Supervisors

Staff in a line management or supervisory position, including academic members of staff responsible for supervising students, are accountable for the health and safety of the people, activities, and projects that they supervise. They must be aware of the health and safety issues, including any significant risks and control measures, relevant to their activities and projects. It is the responsibility of the person supervising hazardous activities that are to be carried out by students to ensure that a risk assessment has been carried out and suitable and sufficient control measures implemented before commencement of that activity. This assessment should take due account of the inexperience or other reasonably foreseeable vulnerabilities that the student may have.

The supervision of employed students should be appropriate to their experience or competence and will be at a higher level than that expected for more experienced members of staff.

Line managers and supervisors are required to comply with the University’s Health and Safety Policy and associated standards and guidance and any other relevant arrangements within their area or activity. They must cooperate with their Head of Department or Director, and will be accountable for any tasks that may be delegated to them.

5) Workers (including PGR Students, students employed to carry out work for the University, visiting employees of other organisations and volunteers working in University premises and facilities)

All workers are accountable to their line manager for the health and safety of any people that they line manage or supervise and for the health and safety of anyone else who may be affected by their work. Workers are also accountable for the safe management of any premises, equipment and activities under their control.

Workers are responsible for ensuring that they conduct their activities, and those activities over which they have control, in accordance with the University's health and safety policies and relevant statutory provisions. They must co-operate with their line manager / supervisor and head of school or service so that health and safety responsibilities can be discharged. This responsibility cannot be delegated to others.

6) Undergraduate and Post-Graduate Taught Students

Students, except those in the course of carrying out paid employment, are not generally considered to be employees under health and safety legislation. As such, the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act will not normally apply to students. However, students are required to comply with the University’s Ordnances and Regulations, and these include a requirement to comply with health and safety instructions, not to misuse or damage equipment provided for their safety or for the safety of others and to comply with relevant aspects of university and local health and safety policy.

7) Contractors

The University has a legal duty to provide a safe working environment for contractors working on University managed property. Contractors will have responsibilities, under the Health and Safety at Work Act, for their safety and for the safety of anyone else who may be affected by their work. This includes a responsibility to cooperate with other duty holders in order to discharge that responsibility. As such, contractors are required to observe relevant University health and safety policy, standards and guidance whilst working under the direct control of the University.

8) Other Roles with Specific Health and Safety Responsibilities

8.1) Director of Estates, Director of Accommodation and Hospitality Services and Director of Sport

These named directors have additional accountabilities to their respective line managers in that they have responsibility for health and safety matters associated with the buildings and infrastructure falling under their control. This includes the provision and maintenance provision of safe buildings, safe facilities and safe grounds, and encompasses any statutory testing or monitoring of building fabric, services and infrastructure.

The Director of Estates has been appointed by the Director of Accommodation and Hospitality Services and the Director of Sport to carry out the tasks associated with their building-related maintenance and repair duties. However, this delegation of tasks does not remove the accountability on each of these for the actual delivery of these duties.

8.2) Director of Human Resources

In addition to the accountabilities placed on all Directors, the Director of Human Resources is responsible for the appointment of a “Competent Person” as required under health and safety legislation and for the performance of the University Health, Safety and Environment Service.

8.3) HR Deputy Director: Safety and Wellbeing Services.

The HR Deputy Director: Safety and Wellbeing Services has been appointed as the University’s “Competent Person” and professional lead on occupational health, safety and welfare matters. The incumbent has delegated authority from the Vice-Chancellor to stop activities that put people at imminent risk of harm.

The HR Deputy Director: Safety and Wellbeing Services is responsible for:

  • providing advice and guidance on all matters of occupational health, safety and welfare, including fire safety

  • creating and maintaining a safety management system

  • identifying competency requirements and advising on how these can be met

  • advising and communicating on the application of specific health and safety legislation

  • providing and administering a system for the control and use of radioactive substances

  • investigating incidents, dangerous occurrences or reports of occupational ill health in order to identify the potential for legal consequences and to identify action required to prevent recurrence

  • management of the University’s Occupational Health provider

  • supporting the University Health and Safety Committee, Scientific Safety Sub-Committee and the Genetic Modification Safety Committee

  • monitoring health and safety performance across the University and providing quarterly reports to University Health and Safety Committee and an annual report to Council

  • supporting the professional development of staff with accountability for providing advice on health and safety within their Faculty/Directorate

  • supports University Teaching and Research activities by providing a hazardous waste service for the disposal of chemical, biological and radiological wastes

  • liaising with the Health and Safety Executive, the Environment Agency and other regulatory authorities on matters of health and safety

  • managing an ongoing programme of audits of compliance with the University health and safety policy on behalf of Council


The University’s arrangements for managing specific health and safety issues are described in topic specific health and safety policies, standards and guidance published on the University website.

Consultation with employees

The University has a statutory duty, under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 and the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996, to provide a suitable forum to formally consult employees on significant matters of health and safety. This duty is met by the establishment of the University’s Health and Safety Committee. The main purpose of this committee is to:

  • provide a forum for consultation on health and safety policy, standards and guidance

  • monitor workplace standards and health and safety performance and to discuss improvements to health and safety practice

  • share information on emerging issues and areas of good or best practice

  • provide a forum for employees to raise concerns over workplace hazards or unsafe practices

The full terms of reference are published on the University’s Health and Safety Committee web page.

Employees may also raise health and safety concerns directly with their line management or with (SHEW)[mail].

Genetic Modification Safety Committee

The University has established a Genetic Modification Safety Committee as required under the Genetically Modified Organisms (Contained Use) Regulations 2014. GMSC is made up of suitably competent members of academic staff and is chaired by an academic who specialises in GM work. A member of SHEW attends GMSC in an ex officio advisory capacity.

The role of GMSC is to provide competent advice, guidance and oversight of all works involving the acquisition, use, storage, transport or disposal of genetically modified organisms (GMO) and other specified biological agents. No such work is allowed to be started at the University without the prior approval, in writing, of the chair of GMSC. All laboratories in which these biological materials are handled and all workers who handle them must be registered with SHEW. Specific policy, standards and guidance on Biological Safety and Genetic Modification must be consulted prior to any work in this field.

Monitoring health and safety performance

Health and safety performance will be managed proactively across the University through a plan of departmental and topic specific audits. Departments will be responsible for carrying out periodic safety inspections. The University will carry out an annual health and safety self-assurance exercise to enable all Deans, Heads of School, Directors and Heads of Department to confirm that they are managing their health and safety responsibilities.

The significant findings of proactive monitoring will be reported at departmental level, through management meetings or departmental safety committees where these are established. Matters arising should be recorded on an action plan setting out ownership of specific issues and timeframes for corrective action to be taken.

The University will also carry out reactive monitoring through the collection and reporting of work-related incident and ill-health data.

The results of all monitoring activities, including the significant findings of any incident investigations, are submitted to University Health and Safety committee on a quarterly basis. Incident statistics are included in the Vice-Chancellor’s report to each University Council meeting and an annual report on health and safety is submitted to Council each February.

Document control

Date of next review: This policy was reviewed by UHSC in December 2023. Due to changes in senior leadership structures and role holders, UHSC agreed that the existing policy should be amended to reflect current structures and reviewed in December 2024 when new posts have been recruited.


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