Managing health and safety - Plan, Do, Check, Act

Managing health and safety is an integral part of good management. The University/UECS Codes of Practice Managing Health and Safety set out our arrangements for managing health and safety in accordance with the HSE's Plan – Do – Check – Act management system framework. Our arrangements for managing health and safety are outlined below.

Plan: Health and Safety Plan and Policies

Our Health and Safety policies express our commitment to the achievement of high standards of health and safety and its objectives for the coming years. It also sets out the health and safety responsibilities of the University’s leaders, managers, staff and students.

Each department/section or business unit will also have a Health and Safety Management Statement, which details local health and safety responsibilities and arrangements.

  • Health and Safety Plan 2019-2025 (.pdf Essex users only) - The University's Health and Safety Plan 2019-2025 has been updated to reflect the work carried out during the last year of the Plan.

Health and Safety Plan 2019-2025

The University of Essex Health and Safety Plan 2019-2025 (.pdf Essex users only) was last approved by Council on 14 July 2022. 

The University’s Health and Safety Plan 2019-2025 has been developed within the context of the University’s Strategic Plan, which has re-framed to reflect our commitment to putting people (staff and students) at the centre of everything we do.

The Plan sets out the University’s vision, aims and objectives in relation to health and safety at work and actions to be taken to address the following opportunities and challenges:

  • The growth of the University, with more staff and students, more courses, more activities and more demands placed on our infrastructure.
  • The Enabling Environment Standard, which provides an opportunity to focus on the role played by each and every one of us in contributing to a positive and proactive health and safety culture
  • BS ISO 45001, the new international health and safety standard. Aligning to this Standard will help the University to scale up its health and safety management systems.
  • The changing landscape in relation to fire safety, in the wake of the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower. It is likely there will be significant changes to legislation and government guidance that the University must be ready to address

The Plan will be reviewed annually and further developed to take account of the University's Research and Education Strategies and the University’s sub-strategies.

Planning for change

The impact of changes brought about by strategic plans or specific projects on the health and safety of staff and students need to be considered as part of planning processes. WHSW should be consulted in good time on projects and plans that will have a significant health and safety impact, so that timely advice can be given.

Areas for consideration include:

  • health, safety (including fire safety) and wellbeing impact on staff and students through changes to the environment, working practice, equipment, technology or conditions
  • changes in employer-employee health and safety responsibilities, eg through contracting out or partnership agreements
  • projects that involve complex and or high hazard activities

Plans should also address the need to:

  • comply with the legal requirement to consult staff and/or their representatives on changes that may affect their health and safety
  • communicate and consult with other stakeholders whose work activities will be affected by the changes

Project Toolkit: Health and Safety guidance

The following tools will help you to consider health and safety as part of your project plans:

Do: engaging your staff (competence, communication and consultation)

Training and induction

All staff need to be competent to meet their responsibilities and carry out their work safely and in accordance with the health and safety standards related to their work.

Those with management responsibilities need to be aware of relevant health and safety legislation and how to manage health, safety and wellbeing in accordance with the University’s policies and standards.

All staff need to be able to work in a safe and healthy manner. New staff need an induction into health and safety procedures relating to their role.

Find out more about training and induction.

Communication

Good communication systems are essential to ensure that everyone:

  • knows about the risks associated with their work and what they need to do to protect themselves and others from harm
  • can contribute to a safe and healthy workplace, by raising health, safety and wellbeing issues they are concerned about

In addition to this website, important health and safety information is communicated through:

  • Health and Safety Bulletins to heads of department, DHSOs, HSLOs or targeted at specific managers
  • noticeboards displayed in your department/section/business unit
  • management/team meetings
  • targeted emails
  • an annual health and safety forum

If you would like a health and safety and fire safety adviser to attend a meeting to give a presentation on an aspect of health and safety, please contact HSAS.

Consultation

Staff need to be involved in health and safety decisions that affect them and the risk assessment process. Their input is valuable in helping to identify health and safety concerns and develop safe workplaces and systems of work that are practical and have their support. It means that adjustments needed to address legitimate concerns can be planned and budgeted for.

Consultation is also a legal requirement under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations and Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations.

Do: working with others

Where the activities of one department/section/business may affect other users of the University’s premises, it is necessary to share information and co-ordinate arrangements for health and safety. Those involved in organising joint activities and events need to be clear on what their health and safety responsibilities are.

Staff working in shared workspaces need to understand who is responsible for their health and safety. This should be detailed in the staff member’s or host department's Health and Safety Management Statement. Unless otherwise stated the following will apply:

  • the staff member's head of department/section retains responsibility for the staff member's health and safety (including provision of information and training)
  • the host faculty, department or section is responsible for providing a safe working environment, including DSE workstation assessment, office risk assessment (.dotx) and the provision of suitable work equipment. The host faculty, department or section should induct the staff member into any specific health and safety arrangements they have in place

Do: Risk assessment and control

Risk assessments help us to identify how people can be harmed from our work, study and organised leisure activities and what needs to be in place to protect staff, students and other users of our premises from harm.

We have generic risk assessments for a range of risks that are relevant across the University. You will find them by searching for the relevant subject area on the Staff/Student Directory, or using the broad links listed below.

We also provide guidance and training on risk assessment or HSAS can offer advice on specific risk assessments.

Health and Safety Standards describe how we do things safely at the University. Subjects have been grouped into the following broad areas:

Your line manager or HSLO will be able to direct you to departmental health and safety standards relating to your area of work.

Check and act: monitoring and review

Monitoring is an essential part of health and safety. It helps us to ensure our health and safety standards have been implemented and are adequately protecting people from harm.

Health and safety inspections

All departments are required to carry out annual health and safety inspections. These include a review of health and safety records and physical inspection. In higher risk areas regular safety tours or daily walk around may also take place to ensure the physical environment is safe.

Incident reporting and investigation

Reporting and investigating accidents and incidents helps us to learn why someone has been harmed and so put into place measures to prevent it happening again. We also monitor trends in incidents to identify areas where further risk controls may be needed.

Health and safety audits

An audit involves collecting information about the health and safety management system and making judgements about its adequacy and performance. It is a proactive method to monitor whether risk controls and processes put in place to manage health and safety across the University are adequate and effective in practice, or whether improvements could be made.

Health and safety auditing gives further information on auditing at the University and current audits being undertaken.

Reviewing

It is important that health and safety risk assessments and standards are regularly reviewed to ensure they are current. Health and safety standards must be dated with the last review date and the review should take place in a reasonable timescale, taking account of the nature of the risk and changes to legislation and work practices.

Health and Safety Management Statements and notice board information should be reviewed at least annually to ensure that the names of those given health and safety responsibilities remain current.

Reporting on health and safety performance

Reporting on health and safety performance is necessary to enable Council and USG to fulfil their leadership responsibilities. They need to be kept aware of health and safety risks and any potential shortcomings that could result in prosecution or a serious health and safety incident.

Progress with implementing the University’s Health and Safety Plan (.pdf, Essex users only) will be measured in the following ways:

  • Performance targets: a set of health and safety key performance indicators (KPIs) are proposed by the Health and Safety Group and agreed by USG. The KPIs aid measurement of progress with implementation of certain aspects of the Health and Safety Plan
  • Head of Department monitoring forms: Heads of Department are required to complete a six-monthly Health and Safety Monitoring Form
  • Annual/Interim Report on Health and Safety Performance: qualitative reports on progress with implementation of the plan will be included in an annual report which is presented to USG, Audit and Risk Committee and Council

Similar processes of annual reporting on health and safety occur in UECS and Wivenhoe House, with annual reports presented to their boards. HSG also has oversight of annual reports from USG, Wivenhoe House Hotel and the Students' Union.

Health and safety KPIs

Departments are notified of the University’s current KPIs annually following approval by Council (usually in August by Health and Safety Bulletin). Please refer to our bulletins for details of current KPIs.