Safety Services


Shared workspaces

This guidance applies primarily where different employers share a workplace and where employees and students work in areas beyond those normally occupied and/or controlled by their line manager.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require that where two or more employers share a workplace (either on a permanent or temporary basis), all parties involved have to co-operate and co-ordinate their activities to ensure that all their health and safety obligations are met.

Examples within UCL include:

  • NHS Trust staff using UCL laboratories
  • UCL employees (including students) using Medical Research Council (MRC) facilities
  • UCL employees using facilities at other Universities / Institutes

Where one employer is in overall control of the shared area, the other employers should assist the controlling employer in assessing shared risks and co-ordinating any necessary control measures, primarily by providing information. 

Where there is no single employer in control, formal joint arrangements must be agreed by all parties and put in place.

It is important to know the status of the UCL building you are working in (i.e. owned, leased, rented etc.) so that the necessary arrangements can be put in place.

This guidance applies primarily to situations where employers share a workplace, however it is recommended that this guidance is also followed where employees and students work in areas within the University beyond those normally occupied and/or controlled by their line manager, for example in another academic department.

> Further information can be found in Chapter 8: Academic Partnerships Framework


•    Controller of the premises (i.e. entire building)
•    Manager of the shared workplace (e.g. laboratory)

•    Manager and/or employees or students from another department or employer
•    Employee or student from another department or employer

Shared workplace:
•    Entire building
•    Specific floors/areas within a building
•    Specific rooms within a building

Co-ordination and co-operation measures

Particularly important aspects of co-operation and co-ordination are:

  • Building and maintenance services
    The controlling employer must induct and share information on emergency procedures (e.g. fire evacuation)
  • Identification and management of risks
    Risk assessments may need to be approved by the competent person(s) responsible for the shared workspace rather than a supervisor or line manager who is not familiar with the workspace.
  • Compliance
    The responsibility for managing statutory compliance in the shared workspace (e.g. lifting equipment, pressure vessels, LEV certification) should be documented.
  • Communication
    Departments sharing the workspace should each be represented on the relevant Health and Safety Committee for that shared workspace.
  • Management
    How co-operation and co-ordination is managed should to be recorded in the departmental organisation and arrangements document.

Heads of Departments are responsible for the safe management of work within their departments and should ensure that they have established and maintain formal arrangements for co-operation with other departments or organisations. 

This means both ensuring that there are adequate arrangements in place to address the safety of 'guest employees' working in the department (e.g. visitors, contractors), as well as the safety of their staff who work in other host departments or in premises controlled by another employer.

Heads of Department cannot legally devolve or delegate responsibility for the health and safety of their staff to a third party but it may be possible to reach agreements with other employers to share, or take on, certain responsibilities for health and safety of their employees.

In situations where there is no controlling employer, a named, competent individual shall be appointed to co-ordinate health and safety arrangements in the shared workplace.


Arrangements detailing the agreed procedures for managing health and safety in a shared workplace should be documented.

Although there may be a commercial contract in place (e.g. where the University pays for services or facilities provided by another employer) it is recommended that the detail of health and safety arrangements is covered separately, although there may be reference in the contract in general terms.

For situations where UCL staff are working in other UCL Departments, documentation may be as simple as a short paragraph in the written arrangements for safe working under the heading "co-operation between organisations", stating that all visiting workers will follow the Department's local rules for safe working, with visitors signing to that effect.

Where different employers are involved, this shall be supplemented with more formal documentation setting out the relationship between the different employers and their respective roles and responsibilities - a suggested format and an indication of topics to be covered is given in the checklist at the end of this guidance. 

 Where there is no controlling employer, a joint health and safety policy shall be prepared and agreed, and a joint local health and safety code of practice prepared for use by all those working in the shared area, using the headings in the suggested format as guidance.

The document should be signed off by the Head of the University Department involved and the relevant line manager(s) of the other employer(s). 

> Form for recording health and safety arrangements in a shared workplace

Last updated: Friday, July 17, 2020