Health and safety committees and consultation

University Health, Safety & Wellbeing Committee

The Health, Safety and Wellbeing Committee is  the University's statutory safety committee as required by the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 and is a Court-level committee.

Its provides a route through which the University can consult employee and student representatives about the measures in place to manage health and safety across the University and also a route throuigh which employee and student representative can formally raise concerns about any aspect of health and safety management.

The Committee members include representatives from the Trades Unions, Student Representative Council and management representatives from each of the Colleges and from University Services. It also has ex-officio members from Health, Safety and Wellbeign teams and from Occupational Health, Estates and Security.  It is accepted practice that Trade Union Safety Representatives on the Committee may represent non-Union members in matters of health and safety.

The Committee receives information such as:

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

The Committee may make recommendations on actions to improve health and safety management within the University.

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 and University Services Health and Safety Committees

Although the University-level committee meets the legal requirement for the Institution to have a safety committee, Heads of the larger management units within the institution are expected to develop local committees.  Local committees of this type serve as an assistance to the Head of Unit but should not be regarded as bearing managerial responsibility for health and safety, which remains the role of unit managers.  The function of a local 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 local committee should also assist in the monitoring and review of these arrangements.

Most Schools and the larger service units have safety committees whose functions will be directed towards development of local policy and procedures and on the operational aspects of the work within the unit.  Colleges may also operate a central College safety committee, to help co-ordinate and share good practices across the College.

All local committees should be chaired by a member of staff with a high-level management role within the unit.  Safety Coordinator(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 provided to 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 and training provision for staff and students.
  • Incident, near-miss and work-related ill health and reports and incident investigations.
  • Development and monitoring of health screening and health surveillance processes.
  • Development of procedures and review of reports on local safety inspection and audit procedures.
  • 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 could be achieved by either a joint safety committee or by a separate building 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.