UCL Ear Institute


5 November 2008 minutes

UCL Ear Institute, Health & Safety Meeting Minutes


  • Chair: Professor David McAlpine (DMcA)
  • Cheryl Overington (CO)
  • Dr Sally Dawson (SD)
  • Graham Nevill (GN)
  • Mr John Kelly (JK)
  • Mrs Minal Shah (MS)
  • Ms Miriam Gomez (MG)
  • Mr Del Lewis (DL)

In attendance: 

  • Edwina Turner (ET)

 1. Apologies for Absence

Apologies were received from Rada Al-Khafaji, Deafness Research, UK (DRUK).

DMcA took the opportunity to welcome Del Lewis, the recently appointed Building Operative, to his first H&S Meeting.

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 DMcA reiterated the need to fit more robust fixtures to the internal fly screen door. Action: DL.

3.2 The meeting were informed that DL is responsible for the building maintenance. All maintenance issues such as light bulb replacement and faulty locks etc should be reported to him. He will also be involved with Fire Safety issues at the Ear Institute. CO reported that the plan was for DL to become the EI Safety Officer in due course.

4. DRUK issues and items

There was nothing to report in Rada Al-Khafaji’s absence.

5. Fire Safety Management

5.1 Recent External Fire Safety Inspection

Noted there was a recent fire safety audit organised by the College with an external company. The inspector appeared unhappy with the situation but will report to Simon Cooke the College Fire Officer who will in turn report to us.

There has been some progress with the de-cluttering exercise in compliance with College’s requirement to minimise the fire risk in the building. It was reported that some rooms were full of rubbish, but this is being tackled on an ongoing basis with a view to clearing unwanted items.

In addition, numerous boxes of Journals belonging to Deepak Prasher had been found in the hospital. 2600 have now been cleared and the remaining 1000 will be put in the hospital skip in due course. The skip, currently being used (paid for by the Institute at a cost of £260 + vat) is unfortunately being filled with hospital rubbish which cannot easily be avoided. It is envisaged that there may be a few skip loads of items still to be removed. Cecilia Dada said that the stock of old journals is a H&S issue. Action: DL/GN.

DL reported that sections of the Basement (Cellar) ceiling in the Admin Building (336 Gray’s Inn Road), were bare, i.e. there was no plaster board covering the ceiling and suggested that this ought to be repaired, as there were loose wires. Action: DL to arrange.

5.2 Fire Safety Induction

GN had previously conducted the Fire Safety Inductions for the Ear Institiute; this responsibility will now be handed to DL. It was noted that research students based at the EI are given this training and taught students are covered by their induction session. However, it must be implemented for any visitors, including students from other departments, if they are in attendance at the EI for 3 days or longer.

5.3 Annual Training of Staff

The annual fire safety training of staff is now due – last year DMcA sent out an e-mail on 1 November requesting that all fire marshals undertake this training for their floor. CO to send message to DMcA for circulation for this year. Again, this is to be undertaken by all fire marshals. Action: CO/DMcA

5.4 Annual Risk Assessment

CO advised that following the Safety Audit, it had been agreed that there would be regular inspections of the buildings by the safety group and annual inspections by the Director (DMcA). In addition, the Director to require annual risk assessments, and for these to be submitted by a set date. There was some discussion about this but no decisions made. Noted the safety team had so far undertaken two inspections and were due to undertake another one. Action: DL and safety team + DMcA.

6. Specialist Officer Reports

6.1 Genetic Modification Safety Officer Report

RN was not present at the meeting as there was nothing to report.

6.2 Radiation Protection Officer

SD reported there was nothing to report as radiation had not been used recently.

SD mentioned that with new students present, it is necessary to be able to identify students authorised to be in the building, and suggested photo identification be made available, possible putting the photos on a notice board. CO mentioned that student information was held on Portico and the teaching administrative staff had access to this system and it is possible to extract the information required.

 7. Safety Objectives for the Year

DMcA said the main objectives were resolving student access to the building and the clearing of all the rubbish.

The entrance in Britannia Street should be the only access point for students, but this needs to be made secure. There is an issue with the listed status of the building, proscribing certain improvements. There is a problem with the closing mechanism and this poses a security threat if the door remains open. A recommendation to have a stronger mechanism fitted had been proposed previously and this had now been fitted but isn’t effective if the door is left fully opened. It was suggested that an inner door could be fitted to provide swipe card access, which could be set for restricted hours of access. Minal Shah reported that former students are still gaining access to the building via the back way, but mentioned that this entry point also operated on restricted hours.

A reception area was seen as a solution for eliminating the access problem, however the alteration to the building would cost an estimated £130K and was deemed unfeasible.

SD stated that lack of control over who gains access to the building should be considered a security risk with H&S implications. It was agreed that this should be raised as a H&S issue although CO doubted that the approach would be successful given previous issues such as insurance requirements resulting from burglaries. ACTION: CO to write to E&F to see if progress can be made.

8. Incident & Accident Reports

There was nothing to report.

9. Any Other Business

The issue of notice boards in corridor areas was raised and whether it was a requirement to have these enclosed in glass to minimise any fire risk. CO requested that we await the receipt of the Fire Inspection Report, to see if this item has been raised as a potential hazard.

It was mentioned that H&S statutory compliance requires the testing of all pieces of equipment. GN reported that sometime back he had sought advice from the College Safety Office who said that they were arranging the electrical testing but so far this had not taken place. It is possible that this is something with which DL could become involved.

10. Dates of next meeting

Wednesday, 4 February 2009 at 2.30 pm.

Wednesday, 3 June, 2009 at 2.30 pm.