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Health and Safety Services

Health and safety policy for Estates & Facilities Office & General Office (Post & Goods In)

Introduction -This safety statement should be read in conjunction with the Birkbeck Safety Policy.

The Director of Facilities and Operational Services, regards health and safety as a core management function and this code is issued with his authority.

Heads of Section are responsible for the promotion of safety awareness, maintenance of safe working and the instruction and training of staff and students.  The Head of this section is Anne McKeown.

All matters concerning health & safety should be directed to the Safety Coordinator of the section in the first instance. The Safety Coordinator is :

Estates & Facilities Office  - Anne McKeown, Support Services Manager.

Legal Responsibilities of Staff
- All College employees have a legal responsibility under Section 7 of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 to take reasonable care of themselves and all others who may be affected by their acts and omissions and to co-operate with the College with regard to health & safety. All persons on College premises have a duty under Section 8 of the above Act not to interfere with or to misuse anything provided by the College in the interests of health and safety.

Risk Assessment – With the exception of ‘Goods In’ the main Estates & Facilities area is essentially an "office" type environment. Here normal activities are low risk and are addressed by this document. However, no work outside the scope of this document will be permitted to start unless it is covered by a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks involved in the work as required by the Management of Health and Safety At Work Regulations. The Departmental Safety Coordinators can provide advice on Risk Assessment.

Excessive Occupational Stress - Birkbeck has a policy and guidance on the management of occupational stress. See:   Essentially managers are required to assess the factors within their area of responsibility that can cause excessive occupational stress - workloads, individual staff capability, etc and minimise the risk from these where any are found to be likely to lead to ill health.  Staff also have a duty to flag up to their line managers the existence of factors that may be causing excessive occupational stress.

Supervision of Trainees - Supervisors of  trainees have a special responsibility to ensure that fully adequate instructions, even those perhaps seemingly obvious or elementary, are given to their charges to protect them from danger. It is not sufficient for a supervisor to assume that an act or manoeuvre is so manifestly dangerous that no-one would attempt it.

In return the sections require trainees to observe instructions given by their staff and to take reasonable care to ensure that their acts or omissions do not result in injury to themselves or others.

Emergency Number 555 (See also the Arrangements section of the College Safety Policy) - The College emergency number can be dialled from any College telephone to summon help or report emergencies to a duty attendant who will summon help as appropriate from the emergency services or a member of staff.

Procedure in Case of Fire - Instructions concerning procedure in the case of fire are prominently displayed at strategic points around the areas of the College occupied by the sections. Staff should familiarise themselves with these procedures and also with the escape routes in all other areas of the College they visit. On hearing the fire alarm staff will direct any students and visitors to the nearest exits. The Duty Attendant is in charge of implementing the College’s emergency evacuation procedures and may issue instructions to and request assistance from other members of staff.

Health Service - Staff and students of the College are entitled to make use of the medical and dental facilities provided by the University of London Central Institutions Health Service (20 Gower Street, WC1, Tel: 636 7628); details of surgery hours, etc. are given in the College Calendar and are posted in main entrance halls.

Accident and First Aid (See also the Arrangements section of the College Safety Policy) - In the case of serious accident or illness, an ambulance should be summoned by telephone immediately. The duty attendant should be informed promptly to await its arrival and direct the ambulance crew to the casualty.

Lists of Qualified First Aiders and first Aid boxes are kept within the main offices of the section and at the reception desks of the main buildings.

All accidents or incidents and near misses must be reported promptly using an accident report form available at:   The completed form should be sent to Birkbeck Health & Safety Services. Any person may report an accident/incident.

Staff who suffer from epilepsy, diabetes, or any other condition likely to require urgent attention, are advised, in their own interest, to inform the Head of Section, in order that assistance may be rendered promptly if necessary.


All areas are to be kept clean and tidy at all times. It is important to ensure that hazardous working conditions are not allowed to develop.

Furniture or other large items must not be placed in corridors, in circulation areas, or on stairways where they may  hamper  means of escape.

Falls on the Level

Persons slipping and falling on level floors is the most common type of University accident resulting in injury.

1. Report any damaged flooring/stairways.

2. If you spill anything on the floor or discover a spillage, ensure that it is cleared up immediately.

3. Always wear ‘sensible’ shoes to work.

Office Equipment

Office equipment and furniture can be heavy. Care should be taken when moving it to avoid undue strain. Request help with very heavy objects.

Do nor stand on revolving chairs and stools.

Use of Stepladders
Stepladders and stepstools must always be used to access materials on high shelves. Furniture should never be used as a substitute. Only 'Trade' rated ladders and stepladders must be purchased and used. 'Domestic' rated ladders and stepladders are never to be used in a working environment.

All ladders and stepladders should be marked with an identity number, and be inspected as part of the annual safety audit. Inspections should ensure that:
1. There are no defective or missing treads.
2. Uprights are sound and the steps do not lean to any side.
3. Welded and/or bolted joins are sound.
4. Wheels where fitted are free moving and not leaning off line.

Do and don'ts advice for stepladder users
Do not use a makeshift stepladder.
Do not overreach from a stepladder - always move it.
When working inside a room - Do not place the stepladder where it may be struck by doors - lock the doors and put up an appropriate sign or position a colleague outside in order that the steps are not struck by opening doors.
When working in circulation areas or outside where the steps might be struck by vehicles or passers-by - Barriers must be erected and doors secured.
Do take steps out of service and report defects if noticed.
Do wear sound footwear.
Do return the stepladder to its storage place after use.
Do leave one hand free when ascending and descending. Health and Safety Executive guidance (GS31) on the safe use of ladders, step-ladders and trestles is available from the Safety Office.
Do always ensure that stepladders are placed on a level and stable surface.
Do have a colleague steady the bottom of tall sets of stepladders to ensure stability.

Electrical Equipment

When using electrical equipment do not remove any screwed down covers. Where access is provided (e.g. photocopiers) to clear jams etc., turn the power off if this does not happen automatically. Turn the power off before cleaning.

Ensure that all electrical cables are placed so as to avoid creating a tripping hazard.

Before leaving work switch off all electrical appliances (except those required to work through non working hours).

Do not carry out any work on electrical equipment or installations unless you are competent and have been specifically authorised to do so.

Electrical Safety - The College has a Portable Electrical Appliance testing policy at that the area must comply with.  In addition, should staff suspect any item of mains powered electrical equipment of being defective because of age, appearance or damage it must be taken out of service and reported to the Maintenance Supervisor who will arrange for the item to be visually inspected and electrically tested  as necessary.

Room Heaters - Because of the associated fire-risk, the use of any type of electrical or bottled-gas room heater is strictly prohibited unless prior written consent has been obtained from the College Operational Estates Manager or Maintenance Manager. Never leave a room heater running unattended other than for brief periods and certainly never overnight.

Display Screen Equipment (DSE) - The College is committed to implementing the requirements of the Display Screen Equipment Regulations and to that end arranges for all their DSE workstations to be assessed for ergonomic and other aspects of safety as required by the regulations and to be used in a safe manner. The College has a number of staff trained in DSE workstation assessment. To obtain the name of a DSE assessor, staff should contact their section’s safety coordinator or the College Safety Officer. All DSE "users" are required to work through the interactive training package available via the following link: or refer to the College’s Display Screen Guidelines at:

Lifting and moving loads - The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 define manual handling as meaning, any transporting, supporting, lifting, putting own, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving of a load by hand or bodily force. All staff whose work involves an element of manual handling will be required to attend a session on risk assessment and safe lifting delivered by Health and Safety Services.

Asbestos -Asbestos and asbestos-containing products encapsulated or paint-sealed and left undisturbed and undamaged presents no hazard. The mineral becomes a health hazard only when its fibres become airborne and are ingested. Since positive identification of asbestos requires expert microscopy, the advice of the College Safety Officer should be sought before attempting work on any material suspected of containing the mineral. It is most important that broken tiles, damaged lagging, or any exposed surfaces suspected of containing asbestos should not be disturbed but should be reported to the College Estates Officer immediately.

Annual Inspection -Each year, by the start of the new academic session, a health and safety inspection of each section arranged by the section's safety coordinator in collaboration with trades union nominees will be carried out and a report on the inspection submitted to Health and Safety Services.

Health and Safety Services - Offers help and advice on any safety issues to all staff and provides safety training on a number of topics. Contact Health and Safety Services, Extn 6218.

Review - This safety policy statement and any associated codes of practice will be updated annually or more often if necessary.

Last updated March 2016

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