Click here to generate a text only version of this page
Click here to go to the Birkbeck, University of London home page
Click here for help with using the Birkbeck web site
Health and Safety Services

Health and safety policy for Facilities staff including Client Services & the Print Unit

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

The Director of Facilities and Operational Estates, regards health and safety as a core management function and this code is issued with his authority. The code is intended for the guidance of all members of staff who bear responsibilities for College Facilities.

For the Attendants, Portering and Security this responsibility is delegated via the Facilities Manager to the Support Services Manager to whom all matters concerning health and safety should be directed in the first instance.

College Safety Officer: The College Safety Officer offers help and advice on any safety issue to all staff and provides safety training on a number of topics. Contact Health and Safety Services, Extn 6218.

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: 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 Safety Co-ordinator or College Safety Officer 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. The need for detailed instruction and close supervision of students and trainees is especially important in practical exercises. 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 trainees are required to observe instructions given by staff and to take reasonable care to ensure that their acts or omissions do not result in injury to themselves or others.

Induction of New staff: All new staff must have a thorough induction on safety matters before commencing their duties. This should include a thorough questioning by the relevant line managers to discover where there might be gaps in the safety knowledge of new employees with regard to the range of duties they will be expected to undertake. Arrangements must be made to provide safety training where a need is identified. All new employees should attend a general safety induction session with the College Safety Officer.

Fire Safety: 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.

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.

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.

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. Whenever stepladders are used, they must allow staff to adequately reach the relevant shelves. Where this is not the case then the Maintenance Section should be requested to retrieve the material. Always ensure that stepladders are placed on a level and stable surface. Have a colleague steady the bottom of tall sets of stepladders to ensure stability. When accessing cupboards above or near 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.

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 the College Safety Officer. Guidance and training on manual handling is available from the Safety Office. Some general guidance follows :

General Lifting Guidance: No person must attempt to handle on their own a load which is excessively heavy or bulky. The same applies to items having awkward dimensions and to sheet and long rolls. It must always be possible to see the way ahead. Any mechanical handling equipment provided should be used unless the load is well within the person’s capacity.

Remember when lifting to always :

1 Face the load squarely (except when lifting wide boards which are best carried on the back).

2 Bend the legs to get down to the load being lifted. Avoid stooping.

3 Keep the back as straight as possible.

4 Grip the load firmly and straighten the legs to lift the load.

5 Never over-reach or twist the body when picking up or setting down a load.

If more than one person is lifting or carrying a load, it must be clear who is the leader giving instructions. Confused instructions lead to accidents.

When moving loads with trolleys/palette trucks always:

1) Do not overload. You should be able to manage loads comfortably and be able to manoeuvre easily and see where you are going.

2) Do not push vehicles fast. They have no brakes and may run away from you, especially on slopes, and cause damage and/or injury. Fast movement of palette trucks also makes excessive noise in corridors.

3) Do not ride on vehicles.

4) Report all defects promptly.

Driving College Vehicles: All College vehicles will be adequately maintained according to the requirements of the Ministry of Transport. No person will be permitted to drive a College vehicle unless they are adequately covered by the College’s vehicle insurance policy. All prospective drivers of College vehicles must check that they are covered by insurance and a photocopy of the appropriate insurance policy will be kept in each vehicle in order that such persons can make such checks. All drivers of College vehicles must drive according to the highway code and legal requirements such as observing speed limits and wearing seat belts. See College Driving policy.

Transport of Cash and High Value Packages: Cash and High Value packages must always be transported by a team of two persons. The purpose of this being to discourage attempts at theft by presence alone. No resistance should be offered to persons who threaten violence in any way. Where and when possible, transport routes and times should be varied. Guidance on reducing the potential for violence towards staff in various circumstances is available from the College Safety Officer.

Visiting Construction Sites/Plant Rooms: Facilities Staff who are required to visit a construction site or plant area must obey the safety rules applying to such areas at any particular time. These may require the wearing of safety shoes, hard hats or other protective clothing or other measures.

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 Buildings Manager immediately.

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH): All substances hazardous to health within Estates and Facilities sections have been assessed for risk and adequate controls put in place.. Staff have been trained in safe usage and provided with adequate information and training. Guidance and training on the COSHH Regulations is available from the Safety Office.

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 Estates Officer. 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 the safety co-ordinator 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:

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 the College Health and Safety Officer.

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

Last update March 2016

top of page

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