Risk control

The risk assessment process explained in Section 4 is not an end in itself, but is simply the first stage in the wider risk control objective which is explained further in this Section.

The need for protective safety measures to control risk generally arises either from prescriptive requirements that are explicitly set out within Regulations or Approved Codes of Practice or from the risk assessment process described within Section 4.  

  • Prescriptive requirements
    Those managing safety within Schools and Services should identify any specific legislation that will have a bearing on the unit's activities.  This type of legislation tends to apply to management of buildings and hardware and to high-hazard or licensed activity.  Examples include fire, building design, pressurised systems, lifting equipment, radiation, genetic modification etc.  SEPS and RPS can provide guidance on where such standards apply and can help units locate and understand the requirements. These are often set out in Regulations or in supporting Approved Codes of Practice.  These can often be viewed and downloaded free of charge from the Health and Safety Executive website.
  • Risk assessment-based requirements
    A more common form of safety legislation requires that organisations undertake risk assessment to help decide what risk controls are appropriate. SEPS can advise on the assessment process and can direct units to relevant guidance and advise on the interpretation of this.  When deciding upon controls based on risk assessment, there is a HSE-endorsed heirarchy of preferred ways in which risk should be managed. This is set out in simple terms in the HSE basic guidance on Risk Control but is explained in more detail within the IOSH Managing Safely and Working Safely courses provided by SEPS.  In general, the aim should be to remove the hazard, if possible, or to control it by engineering safeguards or safe systems of work, in preference to use of personal protective equipment as the primary risk control. (Although it will often still be needed in some type of work.)  

It is the reponsibility of the College, School or Service in control of any work or study activity to make sure that it is done in accordance with safety legislation and that any necessary risk assessments have been carried out and appropriate control measures identified and put in place.

Responsibility for buildings, plant and equipment
As a general rule, Estates are responsible for maintenance of the building fabric and basic building services such as the electrical installation, heating, lifts etc. Occupying units should not make any alteration to this without their involvement.  All management units should develop internal systems to monitor the condition of their working area and to identify and report obvious faults and defects to Estates via the University Helpdesk.  Examples of items that might be reported in this way include faulty lighting, water ingress, damaged electrics, damaged floor coverings, slippery steps & etc. Faults noted around the outdoor parts of the campus can also be reported via the Helpdesk.

Colleges, Schools and Services
Responsibility for maintenance of equipment within the building that does not belong to Estates will usually fall to the academic unit or Service 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 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 this may entail no more than a periodic visual inspection by local staff to ensure that the equipment remains in good condition.  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.

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.