Equipment maintenance and examination

The University relies on an extensive infrastructure of buildings and equipment and it is essential that all of this is maintained in sound operating condition and, most importantly, in a safe condition. 

As a general rule Estates and Buildings department (E&B) is responsible for maintenance of the building fabric and occupying units should not make any alteration to this without E&B involvement.  All management units should develop internal systems to monitor the condition of their workplace and to identify and report obvious faults and defects to E&B via their Works Request system.  Examples of items that might be reported in this way include faulty lighting, water ingress, damaged electrics, damaged floor coverings, slippery steps & etc.

Responsibility for maintenance of equipment within the building that does not belong to E&B will usually fall to the management unit in control of the item unless some other arrangement has been agreed.  User-managed equipment of this type encompasses a wide range of items and the unit in control of the equipment must identify the maintenance needs of it and make appropriate arrangements for this.  The nature and extent of these arrangements is dependant on the type of equipment involved. 

At it’s simplest it may entail no more than a periodic visual inspection by local staff to ensure that the equipment remains in good condition.  (This might be suitable for items such as ladders or simple office electrical equipment.)

At the other end of the scale, equipment such as fume cupboards, microbiological safety cabinets, lifting equipment, pressurised equipment or gas powered equipment may legally require a formal “statutory examination” to be carried out at prescribed intervals by a competent person. These services will normally need to be contracted from external suppliers. As with car MoT tests, it is illegal to operate such equipment if the appropriate examination has not been carried out.

Local safety co-ordinators and safety committees should assist in identifying the range of equipment used within their unit and in assessment of the maintenance requirements for this.  SEPS website (A-Z index) provides an indication of this for some of the most common types of equipment found around the University.  Other sources of guidance on the nature of the maintenance regimes that may be required will include manufacturers’ literature and, in some cases, information within the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website.

Estates and Buildings are normally responsible for maintenance and examination of the building fabric including the mains power supply, passenger or goods lifts, heating system, water supply etc.  (Note that this is not the case in Residential Services managed properties where different arrangements apply.)  Colleges/Schools/RIs/Services will normally be responsible for maintenance of specialist equipment which they control. This could include specialist laboratory equipment and installations that are specific to the work of the unit. e.g. microbiological safety cabinets, gas cylinder manifold systems, local extract ventilation systems.  A rule-of-thumb test to assess responsibility for maintenance may be to consider who would have to purchase a replacement should the equipment fail.

It is recognised that the University is a complex organisation and there will be areas of uncertainty. Consultation between E&B, Colleges and other Units may be necessary in these cases to agree an appropriate policy on division of responsibility.  Such policy agreements should, where practicable, be consistent across the Institution and documented. 

At present, a central contract exists for statutory examination of lifts and lifting equipment, local extract ventilation equipment (including fume cupboards) and certain items of pressurised equipment.  Contact SEPS for further details of this.