Safety Roles and Duties

This section provides guidance on some of the key safety functions that may exist or be required within Schools, Research Institutes, University Services or other management units.   Not all of the roles will be required in every unit as the nature of the work, the hazards and the management requirements will vary.   Heads of Unit should consider the need to appoint one or more members of staff to the support roles indicated and may well identify other tasks where appointment of other specialist safety co-ordinators may be beneficial to the management of the unit.  More detailed lists of model duties are given within other Sections.

Heads of Management Unit, Line Managers and Research Group Leaders

Heads of College, Heads of School, Directors of Research Institutions, Heads of Service and those in similar managerial positions are responsible to their line manager and ultimately to the University Court for the management of health and safety matters within their area of control and will have to establish suitable arrangements for this.

As a general principle, the responsibility for management of the activities carried on within a unit in a safe manner should be delegated by the Head of Unit via the normal line management chain as an integral part of the management function.  By this principle, anyone within a unit who manages staff, organises work or controls resources in a supervisory role will be responsible for doing so in a safe and effective manner in their area.  The fundamental principle is that staff have responsibility only to the extent that they have control and where safety issues arise that are beyond a manager’s control, these should be raised via the line management system.

Specialist functions

Heads of Unit will normally wish to appoint individual staff members to act in a co-ordinating, supporting and administrative role to assist in carrying out some of the functions associated with safety management within the unit.  Such staff may have particular expertise or they may simply act as an administrative focus for certain aspects of the work within the unit. Some examples of specific staff appointment to safety roles are given below.

Where a safety role forms a substantial part of an individual's duties, this should be incorporated into the individual's job description. This can be done as part of the P&DR process or by independent revision of a job decription.  Due account should be taken of existing responsibilities and workloads. Wherever possible, it is desirable to incorporate the safety role permanently into the functions of a particular post so that the role is built into the functions of the unit.

Safety Co-ordinators

Heads of Unit will normally wish to appoint one or more Safety Co-ordinators to assist them in setting up and operating the systems needed to ensure the safe running of the unit.  In some units the range of risks will be straightforward and a single general Safety Co-ordinator may be all that is required.  In other units, where there are diverse and specialised risks, additional specialist safety co-ordinators may be needed to develop safety management systems for these risk areas.  For example, the appointment of Chemical and Biological Safety Co-ordinators may be essential in units where work involving these types of hazards is undertaken.  In other areas staff focussing on mechanical, electrical or other physical risks may be more appropriate. In some cases a waste management specialist may be useful.

Although a dedicated post may be desirable in some larger units, in most cases the Safety Co-ordinator role will be undertaken by a senior staff member who is also likely to have other duties within the unit.  It is important that the safety functions of this individual are seen as a key part of the unit’s safety arrangement and also as an integral part of the individual’s job.  These tasks should NOT be regarded as simply a voluntary extra duty.  For these reasons, the Safety Co-ordinator role should be formally written into the staff member’s job description.   Example duties of a Safety Co-ordinator are provided within the Appendix.

Area Fire Officer and Depute

To enable effective management of fire safety systems, the University requires appointment of suitable staff to undertake Area Fire Officer and Fire Warden roles. 

Appointment of an Area Fire Officer (AFO) and Depute Area Fire Officer is required for each University-managed building.  Where buildings are occupied by more than one unit, Heads of Unit must liaise with one another to make these appointments.  Only one person may be appointed to act as AFO.  However, it is sensible to appoint several Depute Area Fire Officers who may represent different parts of the building, or can stand-in for the AFO during periods of absence. 

It is the responsibility of the Head of Unit to make these appointments and notify them to SEPS, both initially and on any staff changes. The University Fire Safety Manager based within SEPS provides training and support to AFOs and to Depute AFOs and liaises with them on a routine basis on matters of fire safety management.  AFO duties are set out in more detail in Appendix 2 and include day-to day monitoring of escape routes and equipment, co-ordination of staff fire training etc.

Fire Wardens

In some of the larger or more complex buildings fire evacuation is more easily arranged with the support of a team of staff who are familiar with the building.  In these premises SEPS may require the appointment of Fire Warden teams from amongst the staff who occupy the building. These individuals will provide assistance and support to the AFO and deputies. Fire Warden training is provided by SEPS and warden duties are indicated within Appendix 2.

First Aiders

The University is legally required to make suitable provision for rendering first aid to staff.  In all buildings this will require the provision of first aid equipment.  In situations of very low risk the absolute minimum level of provision is one or more first aid boxes AND an “Appointed Person” whose role is to check that these are kept stocked. This person need not be first aid qualified as their role is simply to make sure the equipment is kept stocked.  Such a level of provision may be suitable within a small office. 

In larger areas or where more hazardous work is carried out access to qualified First Aiders will usually be needed.  A realistic assessment of the need for First Aiders within a building should be made by each Head of Unit (assisted by the local safety committee or Safety Co-ordinator.)  It can be sensible for first aiders to provide cover to other units within the building, or to adjacent buildings and, as with Area Fire Officer appointments, Heads of Unit should consult with one another to achieve this where appropriate.  Consideration should also be given to first aid needs when staff work away from the unit’s base, perhaps in other premises or in remote or overseas locations.  Central Services also have staff who are trained in first aid and can provide assistance in an emergency.  Further guidance on first aid provision is available on SEPS website.

Radiation Protection Supervisors

Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999; Regulation 17 (4) – One or more suitable persons must be appointed (in writing) as the local Radiation Protection Supervisor and their names noted in the local rules.

The duties of local Radiation Protection Supervisor are:-

  • Identification and registration of radiation workers
  • Distribution, collection and administration of dosimeters
  • Local training for radiation workers
  • Supervision of ‘Controlled’ and ‘Supervised’ radiation areas
  • Administration of classified radiation workers – annual medicals and dose reports
  • Record keeping – ordering, usage and disposal records
  • Local Rules and Prior Risk Assessments
  • Investigation of incidents