Duties of departmental safety officers

The head of each department is responsible, as far as is reasonably practicable, for the safety of all members of staff, students and visitors within areas under his/her control.  The head is also responsible for safe working conditions for staff and students undergoing field courses and the like, which are held under the aegis of the department, but are away from normal departmental premises.  Heads must also satisfy themselves that there are safe working conditions and procedures at other institutions where staff and students are working.

The head of department must appoint a departmental safety officer to advise him/her on how to implement the University’s health and safety policies and the departmental health and safety rules.

The role of the departmental safety officer is advisory and does not carry executive responsibility for health and safety within the department.

The role of the departmental safety officer (with the assistance of the area safety officer, where appointed) is on behalf of the head of department and where reasonably practicable:

1.  To ensure that the departmental statement of safety organisation is reviewed annually, revised where appropriate and a copy provided for the University Safety Office.

2.  To oversee that appropriate risk assessments have been prepared by supervisors and others; where a need for health surveillance and / or immunisations has been identified, to ensure that the University Occupational Health Service has been notified.

3.  To carry out annual health and safety inspections of the department and to report findings to the head of department and the University Safety Office; where relevant, the Safety Office will report these findings to the University Occupational Health Service.

4.  To monitor the working environment within the department and report unsatisfactory conditions to the head of department.

5.  To give advice to members of staff and students on safe working procedures and practices and to arrange health and safety training to an adequate level.

6.  To monitor compliance with departmental health and safety rules and University policy relating to health and safety and to advise the head of department where his/her advice is not accepted.

7.  To receive notification via the head of department of potentially unsafe and unhealthy conditions and working practices, or other suggestions for improvement, from trade union appointed safety representatives; and to advise the head of department on the necessary steps for resolution of such matters.

8.  To receive and act upon representations with regard to health and safety made by any member of the department.

9.  To ensure that necessary accident and incident reports are made to the University Safety Office ,;and to ensure that cases of suspected occupationally related ill health are reported to the University Occupational Health Service.

10.  To act as a focal point for those in the department giving specialist safety advice, eg electrical safety supervisors, fire officers.

11.  To maintain liaison with the University Safety Office and the University Occupational Health Service.

Departmental safety officers are recommended to seek the advice and assistance of the University Safety Office and the University Occupational Health Service in the exercise of their functions.

Heads of departments may wish to give the departmental safety officer authority to take action in exceptional circumstances where he/she discovers what in his/her view is a dangerous practice requiring immediate attention, reporting the situation to the head of department as soon as possible.

Academic staff undertaking an appointment as departmental safety officer should be allowed some remission from other departmental duties.


February 2001