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Health and Safety Services

Health and safety policy for the Students' Union

Introduction: BCSU is a separate legal entity from Birkbeck College. The Management of Health and Safety Regulations (1992) require employers sharing premises to co-operate with each other with regard to arrangements for safety. BCLSU complies with the safety policies and arrangements which Birkbeck College, the larger employer and controller of the premises, has in place. Bar staff who are officially employees of ULU co-operate with Birkbeck College in a similar manner. Accordingly, this safety code/statement should be read in conjunction with the Birkbeck Safety Policy.

This code is intended for the guidance of all management and employees of BCLSU and bar staff who are employed by ULU.

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.

The President of the Union (extn. 6365), is responsible for the promotion of safety awareness, maintenance of safe working and the instruction and training of staff.

Safety Co-ordinator: Mr Nawaf Ibrahim acts as Safety Co-ordinator for the section. All matters concerning health & safety should be directed to the Safety Co-ordinator in the first instance.

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 their BCLSU manager in order that assistance may be rendered promptly if necessary.
Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH): All substances hazardous to health within BCLSU areas (mainly the bar)have been assessed for risk and adequate controls put in place. Bar staff have been trained in safe usage of all regular cleaning products and gas equipment in the cellar. Personal protective equipment is provided where necessary. Guidance and training on the COSHH Regulations is available from the Safety Office.
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.
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. To avoid delay among customers, persons from the bar should be allowed to take their drinks with them when they leave. 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.
Bar staff are required to check ashtrays, waste bins and behind the JCR furniture at the end of evening sessions to ensure that no cigarette ends or smouldering fabric/combustible rubbish pose a fire risk.
Health Monitoring: When returning from sick leave, bar staff are interviewed in order to establish any possible risk in them working in a food environment. If bar staff have been ill due to a gastric infection or virus they are required to produce a clearance certificate from their doctor to state they are fit to work in a food/drink handling environment.
Health Service: Staff and students of the College may be entitled to make use of the medical facilities provided by the University of London Central Institutions Health Service (20 Gower Street, WC1, Tel: 636 7628).
Housekeeping: The JCR bar staff, College catering staff and contract cleaning company liaise together to ensure that the build up of rubbish in the JCR is kept to a minimum at all times.
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.

Display Screen Equipment (DSE) - BCLSU is committed to implementing the requirements of the Display Screen Equipment Regulations and to that end arrange for all DSE workstations are assessed for ergonomic and other aspects of safety as required by the regulations and used in a safe manner. BCLSU has a member of staff trained in DSE workstation assessment. To obtain the name of the DSE assessor, staff should contact the BCLSU 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 the College Safety Officer. Guidance and training on manual handling is available from the Safety Office.:

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 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 trolleys/vehicles fast. They have no brakes and may run away from you, especially on slopes, and cause damage and/or injury. Fast movement trolleys makes excessive noise in corridors and could result in breakages.
3) Do not ride on trolleys/vehicles.
4) Report all defects promptly.

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 joints 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 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 College Safety Officer who will arrange for the item to be visually inspected and electrically tested as necessary.

Purchasing arrangements: The college is part of LUCA (London Universities Catering Association). This association acts as a buying group and holds contracts with reputable suppliers.

Record keeping: Where necessary, safety inspection reports, risk assessments, EHO reports, wastage and temperature listings are kept in the BCLSU office.

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.

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 work. 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.

Violence: Any aggression towards staff is to be reported to the College Safety Officer who monitors such incidents for Birkbeck College. Cash takings from the bar are to be kept in the safe until banked. Movement of cash to the bank is to be undertaken in conjunction with College attendants. See Facilities staff safety policy.

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.


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