The Index below provides information on health and safety topics. Please contact the Health and Safety Team for more information.
Local Health and Safety | Personal | Around the Workplace | Environmental | Vehicles and Equipment | Substances | Radiation | Useful Links
|Health and Safety Policy|
|The University Health and Safety Policy requires that:
Further informationGuidance on keeping documents up to date
The health and safety training needs of all members of staff and students should be identified and appropriate training provided. Records of training should be kept and these should contain an explicit acknowledgement from trainees that training has been received and understood.
The purpose of a health and safety inspection is to find out whether the arrangements which the local health and safety policy requires to be in place are actually in place and whether staff and students in the School or Support Service are doing what the policy requires of them.
An inspection should be much more than an examination of the physical workplace. It should look at what people are doing and it should also look at any written records which are required to be kept.
A report on an inspection should include not only details of what is wrong and needs improvement but also details of what is right and in full accordance with the requirements of the policy.
Reports should be produced principally for the Head of School or Support Service and should be one of the means by which he/she is informed about health and safety performance in the School/Support Service.Following the issuing of a report, actions should be agreed with the Head of School/Support Service to remedy any deficiencies.
The main activities of the School are based in offices and teaching rooms on campus. There are also some trips for students to off-campus locations
The health and safety issues here are relatively straightforward ones Schools with a wider range of activities will clearly need to produce more detailed reports which cover the full range of their activities.
They may however choose to limit the scope of individual inspections to particular matters and cover the full range of activities over several inspections. If the scope of an inspection is limited, this should be clearly stated in the report on the inspection.
However the key points for any report are:
Example inspection checklists
When a contractor comes to carry out work at the University, both the contractor and the University have responsibilities for the health and safety aspects of the work.
Our campus is very safe however security is given the highest priority and as such is provided by in house teams who are on site 24 hours per day 365 days per year.
The security office is located at:
9A Dunbar Street
and can be contacted on the following telephone numbers:
The University has introduced a free app that connects you to the University security team if you ever need urgent help, first aid or if you have an emergency while on campus, further details can be found at www.abdn.ac.uk/infohub/safezone.php
|Slips and Trips|
We have more accidents at the University due to slips and trips than any other single cause. The reasons behind these accidents are usually relatively simple and the risks are not difficult to manage.
|Work at Height|
Working at height means work in any place where a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury. Employers and those in control of work at height must first assess the risks.
Access to heights
Even in an office, injury resulting from manual handling is a common cause of accidents. An injury to the back caused by a momentary lapse of good practice may never recover fully. Also, cuts and bruising of hands and feet can occur when manual handling is not done correctly.
Everyone can make an important contribution to safety by keeping offices in a tidy condition.
The Estates Section is responsible for maintaining the fabric of the University Buildings and for fixtures and fittings. Staff from the Estates Section regularly inspect buildings. However, those who work in a building are likely to be the first to notice anything unsafe.
If you need to report a fault or make a work request - the Estates Section operates a telephone help desk service for departments and members of staff to report faults/request work within or around any University building. It is important that faults are dealt with as soon as possible.
On calling the service desk, members of staff will be asked to give their contact details, the building, location and a brief description of the work. They will, in return, be quoted a unique reference number for their report. Should they then wish to check the status of their report, they may call the service desk again and quote the reference number.
|Drugs and Alcohol|
The University of Aberdeen has a legal duty of care to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of all staff, and the drugs and alcohol policy is intended to form an integral part of that approach.
|Smoking in the Workplace|
|The University provides a smoke free environment for staff, students and visitors.
We rely upon the consideration and co-operation of smokers and non-smokers in implementing this policy and all employees, students, visitors and contractors are expected to respect the smoke free environment.
Members of Staff
In developing our health and safety arrangements we must give specific attention to the health and safety of female employees who are, or in future could be, new or expectant mothers. When a member of staff formally informs her School/Support Service that she is pregnant or breastfeeding we must carry out a specific assessment of the health and safety risks to that individual arising from their work.
To assist staff to undertake the assessment, a Risk Assessment Form for New & Expectant Mothers can be completed.
To help complete the risk assessment form the University guidance document ‘Guidance on Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Aspects of Pregnancy’ should be referred to.
The Health and Safety Executive guidance for employers is on their web pages for New and Expectant Mothers.
In some circumstances, say if a member of staff works in a laboratory or has a job where there is a significant amount of manual handling, there are likely to be a number of factors to consider when carrying out the assessment. In other situations, say when a job is mainly office based, there will probably be less to consider but a formal assessment should still be undertaken once a member of staff has notified her department that she is pregnant or breastfeeding.
Those needing advice and/or assistance while carrying out assessments or with general enquiries about the health and safety regulations covering new and expectant mothers should contact their local Safety Adviser who can, in turn, contact the University Safety Adviser if required.
Chemicals: The Health and Safety Executive's web pages contain a section on chemical agents. It should be read in conjunction with this University guidance.
Although there is no specific legislation which requires us to carry out a further assessment if a student informs us that she is pregnant, it would be good practice to do so. The Health and Safety Executive's publication "New and expectant mothers at work - a guide for employers" should be regarded not only as setting out the legal requirements in respect of staff who inform us that they are pregnant but also as setting out good practice in respect of students, particularly for those students who undertake laboratory work.
A student who wishes to notify the University that she is pregnant will contact Student Support Services. If the student is undertaking laboratory work as part of her course of study, Student Support Services will contact the School(s) concerned asking that a specific risk assessment be undertaken.
As with assessments for staff, advice and assistance can be obtained from the School Safety Adviser who can, if necessary, contact the University Safety Adviser.
Visit the dedicated Travelling overseas on University business page for information on travelling overseas for University business.
We define a lone worker as someone who is working in circumstances where there is not someone else within calling distance who would be able to provide assistance if there were to be an accident.
It is important to understand the difference between lone working and out of hours working. You can be a lone worker in a laboratory during the normal working day if everyone else in the laboratory has gone for coffee. You can also be in a laboratory at 10pm in the evening and you would not be a lone worker if another lab worker were present providing that person would know what to do if there were an accident.
Supervisors are expected to determine whether particular tasks can be undertaken by lone workers or whether accompanied working is required. In general lone working should be limited to carrying out relatively simple low risk operations. In some circumstances, devices such as lone worker alarms can be provided to monitor lone workers and allow them to summon assistance.
|Out of Hours Working|
Out of hours working should not be confused with lone working. Out of hours working refers to work outside the normal or core working hours and may be times at which supervisory staff may not be available.
Supervisors should ensure that staff and students are aware of any restrictions on out of hours working. In laboratories and workshops the main safety risks outside normal working hours come from the absence of supervisory staff who can monitor the work being undertaken and who are readily available if problems are encountered in the work.
The use of Display Screen Equipment (DSE) forms a part of many people's daily work.
DSE are devices or equipment that have alphanumerical or graphic display screens such as your computer or laptop. Some workers may experience fatigue, eye strain, upper limb problems and backache from overuse or improper use of DSE. These problems can also be experienced from poorly designed workstations or work environments. The causes may not always be obvious and can be due to a combination of factors.
In May 2011, the Universities and Colleges Employees Association published new guidance on health and safety in Fieldwork. A copy of the guidance can be found here: UCEA Guidance on Health and Safety in Fieldwork
The University does not permit children/young persons to be brought onto University premises unless they are supervised by a parent or guardian at all times. The University recognises there are times when staff and students bring children onto the premises for very short duration visits for example, to collect/drop off work; access facilities such as libraries or attend an open access event.
|Work Experience Placements|
Guidance For University Students
Guidance For school pupils
|Personal Protective Equipment|
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is equipment that protects the user against health or safety risks at work including items such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, and high-visibility clothing. It also includes respiratory protective equipment (RPE).
Glove manufacturer's websites
|A confined space is a place which is substantially enclosed (though not always entirely), and where serious injury can occur from hazardous substances or conditions within the space or nearby (e.g. lack of oxygen).
A number of people are killed or seriously injured in the UK each year in confined spaces. These occur across a wide range of industries, from those involving complex plant through simple storage vessels. Those killed include not only people working in the confined spaces but those who try to rescue them without proper training or equipment.
A number of confined spaces have been identified at the University. They are under the control of Estates Section and strict precautions are required before anyone is allowed to enter them. They include the underground ducts - a network of tunnels which carry heating pipes and other building services around our campuses.
Schools could create confined spaces when they fabricate items of equipment.Strict procedures will then be required to control access. A range of guidance on confined spaces has been produced by the Health and Safety Executive.
|First Aid is provided by trained members of staff. Lists of qualified First Aiders should be on display within Schools/Support Services.
If you are interested in becoming a first aider, please read the expected duties of a first aider expected duties of a first aider. Any request for first aid training will be considered on a risk based approach.
For information regarding First Aid training, please contact Health and Safety Team.
First Aid Boxes
What should a first-aid box in the workplace contain?
As a guide, where work activities involve low hazards, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommends a minimum stock of first-aid items:
Please note: this is only a suggested contents list.
What size of first-aid box is required?
The size of the first aid kit required is a combination of the level of risk and the number of employees in the workplace. British Standard Compliant (BS 8599-1) standard suggests:
Low risk environments include offices and teaching rooms.
Please note: this information is for guidance only: you should carry out a risk assessment for each workplace.
There are defibrillators available on both our Old Aberdeen and Foresterhill campuses and on the Hillhead Campus.
The defibrillator is located in a secure box on the ground floor opposite the Food Story outlet. There is a key held within a break glass box for accessing the defibrillator.
The defibrillator is located behind the bar on the ground floor. Ask bar staff for the defibrillator if required.
The defibrillator is located inside the main door between Elphinstone Hall and the Linklater Rooms. There is a key held within a break glass box for accessing the defibrillator.
The defibrillator is located in a secure box on the ground floor just through the second set of doors at the main entrance to the Cruickshank Building. There is a key held within a break glass box for accessing the defibrillator.
The defibrillator is located in a secure box on the wall outside the Porter’s Office in the main reception area. There is a key held within a break glass box for accessing the defibrillator.
The defibrillator is located in a secure box on the wall adjacent to the Porter’s Office in the main entrance to the building. There is a key held within a break glass box for accessing the defibrillator.
The defibrillator is located in a secure box near the Reception desk at the Visitor's entrance to the building. There is a key held within a break glass box for ease of access.
The defibrillator is located at the Reception desk in the main atrium of the Library.
The defibrillator is located on the wall behind the Reception desk on the ground floor. There is a key on the right hand side of the box for accessing the defibrillator.
The defibrillator is located within the Bothy/Canteen area in the Bedford Road Maintenance Yard.
The defibrillator is located in the receptionist’s office.
The defibrillator is located on the rear wall of the reception in the main atrium near the entrance door. There is a key to the left of the box for accessing the defibrillator.
The defibrillator is located under the counter at the Reception desk. There is a key present for accessing the defibrillator.
The defibrillator is located behind the Reception desk in the main entrance to the building.
The defibrillator is located at the Porter's desk at the main reception of the building.
The defibrillator is located in the first aid room. Contact reception if the defibrillator is required
The defibrillator is located in the reception lobby of the building.
The defibrillator is located behind reception. Call reception or ask reception staff for the defibrillator if required.
In addition to these, there are defibrillators available in the following locations:
These are not University controlled but are available in the event of an emergency. For the most effective response, defibrillators should be used in conjunction with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
We have a three tier approach to operating the defibrillators.
It should be noted that we would not prevent an untrained person from having a go. The defibrillators monitor a person's heart rate, and you cannot shock a person who does not need to be shocked.
If a person is faced with someone suspected of suffering a cardiac arrest, the following steps should be taken:
For First Aiders interested in renewing their defibrillator training, please contact Health, Safety and Wellbeing.
Accidents involving electricity are usually very serious.
|Fire is probably the greatest single safety related threat to members of staff. Even if everyone were to escape safely from the building, a fire could destroy facilities and documents. We should do as much as we can to prevent fire. If a fire should start, a fast and effective response can help save life and property. Please take a few moments to watch this short video on basic fire safety awareness.
The University’s no smoking policy eliminates one of the main ways in which a fire can start. Our systems for inspecting electrical equipment should reduce the chances of faulty electrical equipment being a source of fire. Other important precautions are:
How people are warned there is a fire
A siren sounds continuously throughout the building (the alarm will be actuated manually via the break glass fire alarm call points, or by operation of the fire detection system). In some classrooms a fire-crier system is in place which emits verbal instructions to occupants. In some areas with high background noise, such as workshops, flashing beacons are used as a visual indicator of an alarm.
Action on discovering a fire
If you discover a fire, it is important to take the following steps in the order given:
Action on hearing a fire alarm
If you hear the fire alarm:
Corridors and escape routes must be kept clear. Combustible materials should not be stored in corridors or on escape routes where they could become a source of fire and smoke. Furniture and other items should not be placed so they partially block escape routes as this will prevent people leaving the building quickly. In a corridor filled with smoke, furniture can create a serious obstacle.
Fire doors will help prevent the spread of smoke and fire through a building and make it easier for people to escape. They should therefore be kept closed at all times and never wedged open.
Fire drills and alarm tests
A quick guide for floor checkers
A quick guide for fire marshals
|Noise is part of everyday life, but prolonged exposure to loud noise can permanently damage hearing. Young or old, once someone loses their hearing they can never get it back.
Symptoms and early signs of hearing loss include
Generally hearing loss is gradual. By the time it is noticed it, it is probably too late. We aim instead to avoid exposure to levels of noise which could cause hearing loss.
Noise levels in the workplace require further investigation if people have to raise their voices to have a normal conversation when they are about 2 metres apart. Contact the University Safety Advisers who can arrange for a noise survey. Noise surveys should also be undertaken before hearing protection is provided so that we can confirm that the correct type of protection is being supplied.
Guidance from the Health and Safety Executive on the control of noise at work
Following a power failure affecting a University building, emergency lighting powered from batteries will switch on automatically.
The emergency lighting is expected to last for at least one hour. Its purpose is to illuminate exit routes from the building. It is not there to enable building occupants to remain in the building and continue working.
Read the Full guidance on actions to be taken following a power failure.
|Driving and Vehicles|
|All staff, students, contractors, delivery vehicles and visitors to the University must:
Find out about the information on parking for staff and for visitors including the Parking Policy. Signs showing the Parking Regulations are displayed around the campus. By parking on campus you agree to comply with the posted regulations.
|Members of staff MUST receive additional training before they drive minibuses
To drive a minibus with up to 16 passenger seats on University business in the UK using a normal car driving licence a member of staff will need to
(Note: If the driver passed his/her driving test after the 1st January 1997 then it is not possible to drive a minibus on University business unless a further driving test is taken. It is also necessary for the driver to meet higher medical standards. Note also that arrangements outside the UK are very different. Those intending to take minibuses abroad, which includes the Republic of Ireland, should make careful enquiries.)
FURTHER TRAINING FROM 1st AUGUST 2005
In addition, from 1st August 2005 the driver MUST have successfully completed an additional driver training course approved by the University as a condition of being allowed to drive a minibus. Drivers who have not completed an additional course will be driving without the University's permission and will not be covered by the University's insurance.
The University Safety Adviser maintains a list of providers of approved training courses and should be contacted for details.
SECTION 19 STANDARD PERMITS (or "minibus permits")
These are issued by Traffic Area Offices and must be displayed on minibuses being driven on University business. Permits issued after 6th April 2009 will show an expiry date. Permits issued before 6th April 2009 are now time limited and will expire in April 2014.
HOW TO AVOID THE HASSLE
Meeting all the requirements to enable someone to drive a minibus can involve a lot of work. Have you considered hiring two people carriers (with up to 8 passenger seats) instead of a minibus? These can be driven on a standard car driving licence with no need for further driver training or permits. This option should always be considered.
|See our Use of Drones Policy and Guidance.|
|It has long been established that precautions should be taken to protect the dangerous parts of machinery. Standards of guarding which are expected are also well established. That machinery is being used in a research or teaching environment can never be a reason for not taking precautions and for not guarding dangerous parts of machinery.
Neither can it be argued that 'skilled operators' do not need their machines to be suitably guarded. Appropriate guarding standards for workshop machines have been known and documented for decades and must always be implemented and used. All machines should be the subject of a risk assessment to identify the potential hazards and evaluate the effectiveness of the safeguards provided.
The following checklist shows some of the issues that should be covered when making such an assessment.
|Lifting equipment includes any equipment used for lifting or lowering loads, including attachments used for anchoring, fixing or supporting loads. Safety legislation covers a wide range of lifting equipment including, cranes, fork-lift trucks, lifts, hoists, mobile elevating work platforms, and vehicle inspection platform hoists as well as lifting accessories such as chains, slings, eyebolts.
Lifting equipment should be used only be competent people who have been authorised to use it. There should be a regime in place for ensuring the equipment is fit for purpose and that it is being regularly inspected (with certificates of inspection being readily available). Any use of the equipment for lifting operations should be properly planned and supervised.
Hand-arm vibration comes from the use of hand-held power tools and can cause long-term painful damage to your hands and fingers.
Read Guidance from the Health and Safety Executive on vibration.
|If pressure equipment fails in use, it can seriously injure or kill people nearby and cause serious damage to property.
Principal causes of incidents are:
The main hazards are:
Pressure equipment in the University is likely to be either
In the former case, the equipment will be supplied with documentation showing that it has been inspected and certified by the supplier. Thereafter it will need to be inspected at intervals determined by the University's insurance inspector. The equipment should be registered with the inspector as soon as possible after receipt.
In the later case, arrangements must be made for the equipment to be inspected and certified by a competent person before it is put into use. It should be inspected at regular intervals thereafter by the insurance inspector.
|The major hazards associated with centrifuges are:
A rotor can be subject to the stresses which occur in high speed aircraft. The periphery of a 10cm rotor travelling at 50,000 rpm is travelling at over 1,100 miles per hour. The rotor is stressed by every acceleration / deceleration cycle and undergoes measurable stretching each time it accelerates. Mechanical breakage of unbalanced rotors and the vibration resulting from an unbalanced rotor can cause extensive and expensive damage as well as having potential to cause severe injury to anyone in the same room as the centrifuge.
To prevent injury centrifuges should be
Note: The formation of aerosols when samples of infectious material are centrifuged may also be a hazard and may require the use of sealed centrifuge buckets.
Correct use of centrifuges
Inspection and maintenance of centrifuges
It is a legal requirement that all autoclaves, regardless of size, are periodically examined by a person who is competent to assess their suitability for continued safe use.
We use Allianz Cornhill Engineering to examine our autoclaves. The examinations which they carry out for us are coordinated by Estates however individual Schools remain responsible for ensuring that their autoclaves are examined at appropriate intervals. The following actions should be taken to achieve this.
Contact the University Safety Adviser, if further advice or assistance with autoclave safety is needed.
|Occupational asthma is an allergic reaction that can occur in some people when they are exposed to substances in the workplace.
These substances are called 'respiratory sensitizers' or asthmagens. They can cause a change in people’s airways, known as the 'hypersensitive state'.
Not everyone who becomes sensitised goes on to get asthma. But once the lungs become hypersensitive, further exposure to the substance, even at quite low levels, may trigger an attack.
There area wide range of substances encountered in University research laboratories as well as in the Support Services which can cause occupational asthma.
Particular care is needed when working with these substances and expert advice should always be obtained.
Further informationGuidance from the Health and Safety Executive on occupational asthma
See ' Transport of Dangerous Goods' in our H&S Index for guidance on the packaging of infectious materials and Genetically Modified Organisms for shipment off-site
Health and Safety Executive Biosafety Links:
|Some toxic chemicals and their precursors are controlled by law because they could be used in the manufacture of chemical weapons. The University is obliged to keep records of our use of these chemicals and to make annual returns to the UK Government.
The chemicals which are controlled are listed in three separate Schedules (1, 2 and 3) on the Department of Energy and Climate Change's website.
| The main hazards associated with cylinders of compressed gas are:
To prevent them becoming a source of harm, cylinders should be
Storage of cylinders
Movement of cylinders
Use of cylinders
|The hazards arising from the use of low temperature liquefied gases (cryogenic fluids) are:
The ratio of volume of gas to volume of liquid for low temperature liquefied gases can be relatively high. At 15 oC and 101.3 kPa the ratios are:
Thus 1 litre of liquid nitrogen will produce 682 litres of gas. Air normally contains 20.9% oxygen. If liquid nitrogen is spilled in a room it is possible for an oxygen deficient atmosphere to be produced which can be hazardous to anyone in the room. Oxygen deficiency initially leads to loss of mental alertness and distortion of judgement and performance. This happens within a relatively short time, without the person's knowledge and without prior warning.
It is important therefore that cryogenic fluids which could give rise to oxygen deficient atmospheres are stored and used in adequately ventilated rooms. In determining whether ventilation is adequate consideration should be given to:
Use of cryogenic fluids
Storage of bulk stocks of cryogenic fluids
1. Someone should be responsible for ensuring that
2. A face visor and appropriate gloves must be worn when dispensing from or otherwise handling bulk stocks.
3. If an oxygen monitor is fitted there should be arrangements for its operation which should include a prohibition on entering the area if the alarm has activated and a requirement to leave the area immediately if the alarm should activate. Staff must receive training so they know the action to take should the alarm activate.
Transport of cryogenic fluidsCryogenic fluids must never be transported in lifts accompanied by people. They must always travel unaccompanied. A lift cage is a confined space. If the lift were to become trapped between floors for a period it is possible that rapid evaporation of the fluid due to failure of the container could cause the air to become unbreathable.
|Fume cupboards are intended to keep harmful substances away from the person using fume cupboard and away from other users of the laboratory. The cupboard will do this effectively only if:
Use of a fume cupboard
Maintenance of fume cupboards
The best designed and engineered installation will cease to perform effectively if not maintained on a regular basis. It is a legal requirement that all fume cupboards are maintained and that their performance is measured at least every 14 months. Inspection and maintenance is carried out in accordance with the relevant British Standard.
1. Someone should be responsible for ensuring that
2. Every 12 months contractors arranged by Estates will
|Highly Flammable Liquids|
|Highly flammable liquids (HFLs) should be treated carefully so
A HFL is a liquid with a flash point below 32 deg C (The flash point of a liquid is the lowest temperature at which the liquid gives off vapour in sufficient concentration to form a combustible mixture with air near the surface of the liquid.) The flash points of some common laboratory solvents are:
As the flash points of all these liquids are below room temperature the liquids will always constitute a major fire and explosion hazard. The last three liquids have flash points below the temperatures which may be found in a refrigerator or freezer and will therefore constitute an explosion hazard even when in cold storage.
Empty bottles which once contained HFLs should be handled and stored as carefully as full bottles as they may contain explosive vapours.
Work with Highly Flammable Liquids
|Transport of Dangerous Goods|
|Visit the University's dedicated Waste web pages.|
|The Radiation Protection Service must be consulted on and approve the use of any sources of ionsing radiation.
Health and safety data sheets (sometimes referred to as "MSDS" - material safety data sheets)