Safety policy and arrangements

Although there is an overarching University Safety Policy Statement in place, each managment unit must prepare a local safety policy document setting out the organisation and arrangements in place within the unit for management of health and safety at a local level.  This document should record the procedures and processes set up by the management unit for each of the key health and safety  elements set out in the other sections of this document. The document should state the intended review date and should be reviewed, at least by this date.

The title of the document is a matter for the unit. Titles used across the University vary and include, Safety Manual, Safety Handbook, Safety Arragements etc. Whatever the title, a local safety document should include the following:

  • A statement of local safety policy, refecting the overall University policy and indicating the expectations of the Head of Unit in respect of health and safety and their role in supporting and overseeing this. This local policy statement should be signed by the Head of Unit as an indication of their ownership of the policy.
  • An explanation of the organisational structure of the unit (perhaps includng an organisational chart)
  • An explanation of the role and function of those within management and supervisory positions with regard to safety management processes. 
  • An explanation of the role and function of all staff who have been assigned specific safety functions - e.g. Safety Co-ordinators, Fire Safety Coordinators, Fire Wardens, First Aiders, & etc.
  • Detail of the role and functions of any local safety committee.
  • Detail of the practical management arrangements in place for management of risks arising from the activities of the unit. Normally this will form the major part of the document.  This section is likely to form the major part of the document and should be a description of the local procedures and systems. These should not be set out just as aims to be achieved but should explain how the aim is to be met and the duties and responsibilities of those who are involved in achieving the relavent aim. Such documents can usefully be viewed as a safety management manual.

The purpose of such a document is, firstly, to allow those in managerial control to develop and record effective safety management systems and plans and, secondly, to communicate those arragements to the wider department, although the latter aim will almost always be supported by practical training and instruction.

It can be helpful to begin by compiling a hazard register for the unit to identify the full range of hazards associated with the activities of the unit. This analysis should result in a list of high-level hazards with broad descriptions, such as fire, fieldwork, chemicals, radiological risk etc. These hazards may then be prioritised and a generic risk assessment carried out for each of them. 

This should be viewed as a strategic process, the aim being to identify the administrative procedures needed to manage each of these hazards correctly, rather than focussing on technical risk control measures. Details of the administrative dervied from this process will form the main content of the safety policy document. 

More detailed technical risk assessment will usually be required, certainly for higher risk activities, but will normally be carried out at operational level and may form the content of lower tier documents such as Safe Operating Procedures (SOPs). Responsibility for conducting these operational risk assessements should be clearly assigned within the policy document as a part of the management arrangements. Section 4 - Risk Assessment provides further information on this.