Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992

1.  Introduction

These Regulations are concerned with the details of basic provisions in, and facilities for, workplaces. They contain details on matters such as sanitary provisions, standards of housekeeping and cleanliness, temperature, ventilation, decoration etc, as well as materials of construction (e.g. glazing) and the required provisions for safety.  The legislation is applicable to all workplaces provided for employees under University control, either permanent or temporary.

2.  Departments, institutions and units must ensure that the workplace is maintained in efficient working order and in good repair.  To achieve this suitable systems are needed to ensure that:

(a)  regular inspection, testing and cleaning is carried out;

(b)  potentially dangerous defects are remedied;

(c)  remedial work is carried out properly;

(d)  records are kept.

3.  Workplaces must be properly ventilated with fresh or purified air.  In the majority of cases, windows or other openings will be sufficient.  A supply rate of five to eight litres per second per occupant is expected.  Departments are not expected to make or have carried out measurements of supply rates unless there are exceptional circumstances when the Surveyor should be consulted.

4.  Temperature in indoor workplaces is expected to be at least sixteen degrees Celsius one hour after work has started unless the work involves severe physical effort, when thirteen degrees Celsius is the minimum. The minimum temperatures do not apply to unoccupied rooms.

Local heating is required where this temperature cannot be achieved.

There is no maximum temperature specified in the legislation.

Where there are concerns about temperature these should be referred to the University Surveyor and at least one thermometer should be provided in each department to enable the temperature to be measured by employees.

5.  Lighting should be sufficient to enable persons to work safely and without experiencing eyestrain.  Stairs and exterior areas must also be well lit.  Lighting is the responsibility of the department, but electrical work may only be facilitated by the University Surveyor.

There is a requirement to replace, repair or clean lighting as necessary and before levels become insufficient.  Windows and skylights also must be cleaned regularly.

Emergency lighting must be provided in areas where a sudden loss of light would create serious risk. This is only likely to affect high risk areas and is required for fire precautions purposes.  There is an on-going University programme of providing emergency lighting, where appropriate.

6.  Departments need to ensure that floors and indoor traffic routes are cleaned at least once per week and there is also a requirement to ensure that interior walls, ceilings and work surfaces are cleaned at suitable intervals.

7.  The condition of floors and traffic routes under departmental or Surveyor’s control should be kept in a safe condition and reasonably anti-slip.  Floors and traffic routes must be free of obstructions, which may present a hazard or impede access.  This does not mean that items may no longer be stored in corridors, but that reasonable risk assessment is required.

Organisation of traffic routes must be such that pedestrians and vehicles can circulate in a safe manner. Traffic routes should be suitably marked. 

Internally these are departmental responsibilities. In common, external areas the responsibility rests with the University Surveyor.

8.  A minimum workspace of eleven cubic metres per person is the legal requirement, however, this does not apply to rooms used for lectures, tutorial classes and meetings.  Notice of any area where employees work that does not meet this criteria should be referred to the University Safety Office.

9.  Provision of fencing (or strong hand railing) is required at any place where a person might fall two metres or more and tanks, pits or similar must be securely covered.  Departments must ensure that this requirement is met.

Fixed ladders are no longer permitted in circumstances where it would be practicable to install a staircase.  New fixed ladders require a landing every six metres and should not be vertical.

10.  Where regular access is needed to roofs, permanent access should be provided and there should be fixed physical safeguards to prevent falls from edges and through fragile roofs.  Where occasional access is required other safeguards may be provided.

Departments must assess the risks associated with roof work and whether roof work requires a `Permit to Work`.

11.  Glazing in windows and transparent or translucent doors at shoulder height and below must be of safety glass (either laminated or toughened).  The University has completed a programme of upgrading glazing, but any areas still requiring remedial work should be notified to the University Safety Office by the department.

Suitable provisions are necessary so that all windows can be cleaned safely from inside or via mobile access equipment or using anchorage points for safety harnesses.

12.  There is a minimum number of sanitary conveniences to be provided for people at work, i.e. one to five people at work - one water closet and one hand wash basin; six to twenty-five employees - two water closets and two hand wash basins; for twenty-six to fifty employees - three water closets and two hand wash basins.  This requirement does not apply to student use and there are separate requirements where sanitary accommodation is used by men only.

Departments are asked to note that no room containing a sanitary convenience should communicate directly with a room where food is processed, prepared or eaten.

13.  The legislation specifies the need for the provision of accommodation for clothing worn at work and, where appropriate, to provide facilities for changing clothing. These matters should be identified as part of the relevant risk assessment.

There is a specific requirement to provide facilities for rest and eating of meals.  Rest rooms should be arranged so that employees do not suffer discomfort from tobacco smoke, i.e. by providing totally separate areas for smokers and non-smokers, or by prohibiting smoking altogether in rest rooms/areas.

The University already has a 'no smoking' policy.

14.  Action required

Departments, institutions and units should assess their facilities, equipment and devices against the standards outlined in this Policy at least annually, ideally during the departmental inspection.

Clarification and further help, if necessary, can be sought from the Safety Office.


March 2002