UCL Ear Institute


15 July 2009 minutes

UCL Ear Institute, Health & Safety Meeting Minutes


  • Chair: Professor David McAlpine (DM)
  • Dr Sally Dawson (SD)
  • Graham Nevill (GN)
  • Mr John Kelly (JK)
  • Mrs Minal Shah (MS)
  • Ms Miriam Gomez (MG)
  • Mrs R Al-Khafaji (RA)
  • Mr A Pyne (AP)

In attendance: 

  • Edwina Turner (ET)

 1. Apologies for Absence

  There were no apologies received.

2. Minutes of the previous meeting

The minutes of the previous meeting were circulated prior to the meeting and were approved as a true record.

3. Matters Arising

3.1 It was proposed to have the office cleaning moved to the morning, as the evening cleaning was creating the problem of (a) having a wet floor, when many member of staff were leaving, having health and safety implications and (b) causing some disruption to those still working. SD reported that the cleaning schedule had been changed at the Windeyer Building for similar reasons.

A problem was envisaged with the Admin Building as early access could set off the burglar alarms which is activated at night by the security staff.

Another proposal was to have the cleaning staff, commence their work an hour later in the evening. Action: This matter will be raised with CO to investigate possibility of changing hours.

3.2 RA raised the matter of fire marshalls and said that she together with a colleague from DRUK had done the training, but the colleague had now resigned. It was proposed to nominate another DRUK staff member to undertake this role. Action: RA to organise this through CO.

3.3 DM advised that a representative from College would be visiting the EI again in order to investigate the feasibility of having a Reception Area. The cost of alterations would be a crucial consideration in whether to proceed. A likely solution would be to incorporate the area which now functions as the Franking storage room to be made accessible from the CAR Foyer, and have Ricky Kemp stationed there to provide a receptionist function.

4. New EI Safety Officer

Bjorn Christianson has taken over the role of Safety Officer due to Regina Nickel’s leaving the EI.

2nd Floor fire marshals, previously the responsible of Regina Nickel and Ruth Taylor, there is a need for a Safety Officer. Miriam will be trained for this role as Ruth is now part-time in the laboratory.

5. DRUK issues and items

There are no DRUK issues, except the appointment of a second Fire Marshall reported in 3.2 above. RAlK advised that new DRUK staff members has been shown the exit points in the building, had done the fire walk in line with H&S Policy and had completed the documentation which is to be handed to CO.

6. Safety Policy

There was nothing discussed under this heading.

7. Fire Safety Management

7.1 Fire Risk Assessment by C.S. Todd and Associates. GN advised that this covered a thorough inspection of the building taking a whole day. The report is the result of that inspection, mainly on building related issues. The types of items relate to recycling bins and doors being closed e.g kitchen.

Many of the issues raised have already been addressed especially the removal of rubbish. The basement area was mentioned specifically as an area which should be cleared of unnecessary items.

DM requested that AP be given a copy of the report to check whether matters have been addressed and ensure outstanding items are done to comply with the recommendations of the report.

7.2 AP raised the matter of PAT testing and mentioned that this impacts on insurance. It was noted that electrical equipment had not been PAT tested at the EI. DM mentioned that this testing would be very time consuming and College were not prepared to pay for this.

GN said it was important to ensure that items were wired correctly and to check for frayed cables etc.

DM said that College’s position should be clarified with regard to PAT testing and if implemented how this would be funded.

8. Specialist Officer Reports

The Genetic Modification Safety Officer, previously Regina Nickel who has now left the EI, needs to be replaced. SD mentioned that her laboratory is involved with genetic modification, and she is happy to be involved, but that she currently acts as the Radiation Protection Officer. It was suggested that MG could be considered for taking over the administration and SD could act as deputy. The function is mainly administrative, ensuring that copies of risk assessments are d one and sending out annual e-mail reminders. SD is caretaking this function at present until a replacement Genetic Modification Safety Officer is appointed.

The Radiation Protection Officer reported that there was little work is conducted using radiation currently, but the monthly reports are being completed. The recording system is being changed from paper-based to electronic reporting. SD will be attending a training course for the electronic system in due course.

SD mentioned that although no radiation work had been conducted for some time it was important not to allow the licence for such work to lapse, as there may be a need in future research.

It was noted that not all new PIs are aware of the system and they should be made aware of procedures. DM suggested making the information available in a pack.

9. Safety Objectives for the Year

DM said that the appointment of Bill Potter (BP), and the result of the work he has done in clearing the Electronics Room, has significantly reduced the potential risks of storing old equipment. It was suggested Bill be invited onto the Safety Committee due to his knowledge and experience in electronics and electrical work. This may also predispose the EI in implementing PAT testing, or obviate the need for it. Action: DM To co-opt BP onto Safety Committee

10. Incident & Accident Reports

GN had received one accident report involving someone falling over, and the person stated it was due to polish on the floor which happened in the Hospital. The Hospital denied that they do not polish the floors. As this accident occurred in the Hospital and not on EI premises, it is beyond the remit of the Health & safety Officer.

SD reported that there was a broken thermometer in the 2nd Floor Laboratory. GN mentioned that there was an accurately calibrated thermometer which could be used if required. A request was made to have more blue dye thermometers as there were too few available in the laboratories. Action: The broken thermometer will be disposed of appropriately.

11. Any Other Business

MS reported that there would be an Induction Day for MSc and BSc students on 28th September 2009. This will consist of a brief talk and a tour of the building to include the fire walk.

DM mentioned that students should be made aware of personnel with Health & Safety responsibilities for reporting the of accidents and incidents.

GN raised the matter of Risk Assessments, reminding the meeting that these should be conducted annually. It was decided that the best practice would be for appointed staff members to be responsible for conducting the risk assessments for given areas of the building. However, it was recognised that in certain instances it would be more appropriate for individuals to complete the risk assessment, especially when related to specific projects. Action: DM will be circulating an email to all staff.

GN raised the matter of vinyl gloves (grey) as staff members were no longer to use latex gloves, due to the risk of allergies. This was a directive included in College information. However, some degree of flexibility was considered preferable.

12. Dates of next meeting

The date of the next meeting will be announced for October 2009.