Health, Safety and Wellbeing Committees and Building User Groups

University Health, Safety & Wellbeing Committee

The Health, Safety & Wellbeing Committee is a legal requirement under the Health & Safety at Work (etc.) Act 1974 and the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977.

Its role is to monitor the measures taken to ensure the effective management of the health and safety of employees, and also that of students, visitors, contractors and other persons who could affect or could be affected by the various work activities of the University of Glasgow. It acts as a forum whereby information can flow between managers, staff and students to enable a partnership approach to how we manage the health, safety and wellbeing of all those concerned.

The Committee members include representatives from the Trades Unions, Student Unions as well as management representatives from each of the Colleges, from University Services and from the University Court. It also has ex-officio members from Occupational Health, Radiation Protection Service and the Safety & Environment Protection Service.

The members receive information such as:

  • occupational injury and ill health statistics and trends
  • health and safety training courses and attendee data
  • work-related sickness absence data
  • safety audit reports
  • reports into serious incidents at work
  • reports arising from inspections and/or enforcement action by relevant Enforcing Authorities
  • reports submitted by employee trades unions and partnership bodies

and, having reviewed this information, make recommendations on improvement of health and safety performance and minimisation of occupational injury and ill-health as appropriate.

The minutes arising from this Committee, along with any key policy or procedural documents, are submitted to Court for information and/ or approval.

College, School, Research Institute and University Services Health, Safety and Wellbeing Committees

Although the University-level committee is considered to meet the legal requirement for the Institution to have a safety committee, Heads of the larger management units within the institution should develop local committees.  Local committees of this type should not be regarded as bearing managerial responsibility for health and safety: that remains the role of unit managers.  The function of the committee is to harness the knowledge and expertise of staff and students familiar with the work of the unit and to apply that knowledge to assist local managers in the development of workable and effective local policies, procedures and arrangements.  The committee should also assist in the monitoring and review of these arrangements.

Most Schools, Research Institutes and the larger service units will require local committees whose functions will be directed towards development of local policy and procedures and may focus more on the operational aspects of the work. 

All local committees should be chaired by a senior member of staff with a high-level management role within the unit.  Safety Co-ordinator(s) from within the unit should attend together with representatives from the various staff groups within the unit.  Where applicable, both postgraduate and undergraduate students should have representation on the group. Committee reports and minutes should be seen by the Head of Unit who may also attend, or even chair, the group.

Where Trade Union safety representatives have been appointed and are active within the unit, they should be consulted about membership and composition of the group and may also be members of the committee.

Local committee agendas will typically include the following areas of activity: 

  • Local safety policy, arrangements, procedures and supporting documentation.
  • Risk assessment procedures, systems and records.
  • Training needs of staff and students.
  • Incident, near-miss and work-related ill health and reports.
  • Health screening and health surveillance processes.
  • Local safety inspection and monitoring activities. Procedures and reports on audit and inspections.
  • Environmental and waste disposal issues.
  • Health and safety issues raised by staff or students.

This should not be regarded as an exhaustive list.  The committee should help identify and support development of effective local procedures for any areas of risk apparent within the unit.

Multi-user buildings

Many buildings are occupied by staff who are employed within different management units. In these situations there is a joint responsibility to establish suitable arrangements. In developing and operating safety systems within such buildings there is a need for close liaison and consultation between the various groups.  This is particularly so when considering arrangements that affect the whole building.  Typical examples of this include fire safety arrangements, first aid provision, out of hours working arrangements and various other elements.  Co-operating in the development of such arrangements can be beneficial to all occupants and avoids duplication of effort and conflict in arrangements.  Experience has shown that formation of a building user group can be a helpful way to achieve joint arrangements.   In larger buildings this may be effectively achieved by a joint safety committee or by a separate user group.  In smaller premises, a regular and open dialogue between the local managers may be all that is required.  All units who occupy a building should contribute to the development of local procedures.