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Health and Safety Services

Essential information for contractors at Birkbeck

1. The Birkbeck Health and Safety Services can be contacted on extension 6218.

2. All birkbeck buildings are fully covered by smoke detectors - around 700 in the main building alone. It is essential that these are not triggered accidentally. Any work generating smoke, fume, dust or steam etc may set off a smoke detector. Accordingly, welding, grinding, sawing, drilling, paint fumes, rubbing down paintwork, heat guns etc. must not be started until electricians (extension 6024) have been consulted about the presence of smoke/heat detectors as these can be out of view. 

Electricians will cap or remove  smoke detectors as necessary when requested.  There must be no bagging or otherwise covering up smoke detectors by contractors. Electricians will un-cap or replace smoke heads at the end of each working day. This procedure is not negotiable.

3. All Hot Work requires a permit to work (PTW) - see the Estates Maintenance Supervisor for a PTW.

4. The Birkbeck Emergency telephone number (internal) is 555. Use this to summon any emergency services or to  report a gas leak or other emergency.

5. The fire alarm is a continuous ringing bell or siren. On hearing the fire alarm all contractors must switch off any appliances and leave the premises immediately and move 100 yards clear of the building in any direction. There is no particular assembly point.

6. If any person finds or suspects a fire:
a) set off the alarm (red break glass boxes on walls) - the duty attendant at Malet St will be automatically notified from any building and will  immediately phone the fire brigade -  you don't have to.

b) use the 555 internal number to tell the duty attendant what the problem is but only if safe to do so. Otherwise leave the building then tell the duty attendant in person what the problem is.

c) do not tackle the fire unless you have been trained in the use of extinguishers and you are confident that you can bring the blaze under control.  If you do - make sure the alarm has been given first.

7. Fire exits and exit routes in general must not be obstructed at any time. Fire doors and smoke doors in corridors must not be wedged open or held open at any time. If necessary use more personnel or take longer over a task.

8. Your work site must be protected where appropriate with suitable robust barriers and signs.

9. Smoking policy - all Birkbeck buildings are no smoking.

10. When transporting materials do not expose other occupants to the risk of being struck by planks etc. If necessary use two people to transport materials - one to acts as a banksman to hold open doors and keep people away from the person transporting the materials. People will stop and keep away if instructed to do so. If they are not spoken to they will take risks. They know no better. You do!

11. Asbestos is present in many buildings, if you unexpectedly encounter material suspected to be asbestos STOP work immediately and inform your Birkbeck contact.

12. Faulty tools and equipment must not be brought onto site and Birkbeck tools and equipment must not be used without express permission

13. 110V electrical tools are preferred. If 240V tools are used they must be double insulated and RCD protected. All extension leads must be properly terminated with the appropriate plugs/sockets and be otherwise jointed.

14. Suitable Personal Protective Equipment must be worn when necessary and must be properly maintained.

15. Pollution control -contractors must not deposit any waste, chemical or other substance into drains without permission from your Birkbeck contact.

16. Main contractors are expected to pass on this information to all sub-contractors no matter how briefly they may be on site.

17. Reporting accidents under RIDDOR is the responsibility of the employer. However, Birkbeck will investigate all accidents occurring on its premises. Full co-operation with investigations is expected.

Last revised - March 2016.

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Health & Safety Services, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX. Tel: 020 7631 6218, email: