Safety Services


Chapter 3.1 - Safety responsibilities of individuals

This page forms part of UCL's Safety Management System. This is Chapter 3.1 - Safety responsibilities of individuals.

Responsibility for health and safety cascades through the organisation from the President and Provost to each individual. Responsibilities are allocated based on the principle that you are responsible for the work under your control, for those working under your control and for the people who are affected by your work. Arrangements are in place to facilitate and support management in meeting their responsibilities.

On this page

The President and Provost

The President & Provost, in his capacity as UCL’s Chief Executive Officer, is responsible to the UCL Council for the manner in which all of UCL’s activities are conducted; this includes the management of health and safety. In his capacity as Chief Executive of UCL, the President & Provost is the ‘employer’ who is the ‘Responsible Person’ under the Fire Safety Order.

The Chair of Council and the President &Provost shall authorise the UCL Statement of Safety Policy and the arrangements made under it. The President & Provost shall satisfy UCL Council that the Policy has been adequately implemented by UCL Senior Management and Heads of Department.

UCL Senior Management

The general management responsibilities including those for health and safety apply to all individuals who have direct management control of areas of UCL activity. This includes Institute Directors and Deans who may have several departments under their authority whether collectively labelled as Institute, School or Faculty. UCL senior management is responsible to the President & Provost for the safe management of all work under their authority. They are responsible for ensuring the health and safety of those under their management authority and for monitoring the performance of their management teams.

Vice-President (Operations)

The Vice-President (Operations) is the executive member with responsibility for the oversight and championing of the effective management of health and safety.

The Vice-President (Operations) is responsible for:

  • Ensuring that the health and safety management system is properly implemented and performing to requirements in all locations and spheres of operation identified within the system scope
  • The effectiveness of UCL’s health and safety organisation and arrangements and ensures the provision of appropriate resources to enable persons with specific responsibilities for health and safety, including relevant committees, to perform their functions properly
  • Keeping the University Management Committee informed of, and alert to, significant health and safety issues and initiatives that affect the organisation
  • Ensuring that UCL has access to appropriate sources of competent advice and resource
  • Sponsoring the annual review of health and safety performance
  • Chairing or appointing the chair of the HSC
  • Approving the appointment of the Director of Safety Services

The general management responsibilities including those for health and safety apply to the following:

UCL Director of Estates

The Director of Estates is a ‘Duty Holder’ to both the President & Provost and to Heads of Departments, with respect to:

  • The structural fire precautions, safe design, other measures and adequacy of the means of escape from the premises
  • The fire alarm systems
  • The emergency lighting
  • The fire equipment
  • The fire Brigade facilities (under Article 17 of the Fire Safety Order)

In premises under UCL’s control, the maintenance of the building elements, systems and infrastructure provided for fire safety is the responsibility of the UCL Director of Estates.

In premises leased by UCL, the responsibility will be in accordance with the repairing obligations under the Lease or through the Landlord or their representatives.

The Director of Estates will ensure:

  • A competent person is available to provide advice, guidance and assistance on fire safety management to UCL staff
  • That fire risk assessments and fire safety audits are carried out by a competent person(s) and other areas or buildings occupied by UCL for which they are responsible
  • That appropriate fire standards, procedures and guidance are designed to reflect the statutory obligations and particular fire risk management needs of UCL
  • That the risk based corporate UCL fire risk assessment process is undertaken and funding provided where necessary to ensure compliance

Heads of Department

Heads of Department are responsible ultimately, through their senior management, to the President & Provost for the safe management of all work under their authority.

They are responsible for and take a lead in:

  • Ensuring that their areas of control and responsibility meet statutory and UCL safety standards
  • The preparation, annual review and authorisation of the organisation and arrangements specific to each department for managing health and safety** including confirmation of the departmental Responsible Persons Register
  • Ensuring the allocation of the necessary resources including the appointment of Departmental Specialist Officers and competent persons
  • The identification, assessment and review of significant risks and ensuring the planning, implementation, monitoring and review of measures to control the risks
  • The setting of departmental safety objectives and action plans to manage the risks including those identified by the UCL Fire Risk Assessment process
  • The identification of activities critical to business continuity and preparation of plans to minimise the impact of a major incident, in conjunction with the overall UCL plan and including arrangements for all relevant persons who have restricted mobility, sensory disabilities or who are temporarily incapacitated
  • The planning, implementation, monitoring and review of measures to control risk arising from the activities of their department
  • Ensuring that all persons who may be affected by the department’s activities understand the arrangements for health and safety and have access to the necessary information
  • Establishing local consultative health and safety arrangements or, in low risk departments, placing health and safety as a standing item on the agenda of the departmental management committee if a departmental health and safety committee is not justified
  • Making explicit and documenting the co-operation and co-ordination responsibilities and arrangements where workplaces are shared with other UCL departments and other employers
  • Ensuring all new members of staff and full-time postgraduate research students complete the health and safety induction requirements 
  • Ensuring the competence of employees including the maintenance of records on the appropriate UCL systems e.g. training records
  • Ensuring all activities undertaken on behalf of UCL are carried out by, or supervised by, competent people who have the necessary authority to meet their responsibilities
  • Ensuring adequate supervision of all students and visitors to UCL
  • Reviewing the health and safety performance and adequacy of existing health and safety arrangements of the department in accordance with agreed standards

Departmental Managers, Principal Investigators and Supervisors

Departmental Managers, Principal Investigators and Supervisors (an inclusive term to describe all those who have a duty to manage any aspect of the work activity of the department, whether carried out by staff or students) shall be accountable to the Head of Department for the health and safety management of the work activities under their control as directed by the Head of Department.

Their duties include:

  • Assessing the risks of the work under their control
  • Ensuring the implementation and maintenance of relevant risk control measures
  • Ensuring the provision of suitable information, instruction, training and supervision of staff, students and academic visitors under their control taking into account the experience and skills of these people 
  • Ensuring the safe handling and use of hazardous substances and the maintenance of safe plant, machinery and equipment
  • Ensuring that the operation and effectiveness of the risk control measures are monitored
  • Ensuring all accidents and incidents are reported and investigated in accordance with agreed procedures and guidance
  • Familiarising themselves with fire and emergency drills (including the location of emergency telephones) and escape routes
  • As far as reasonably practicable, direct students to observe UCL instructions in respect of fire safety while in their direct charge
  • Ensuring students are provided with clear information and instructions in the event of a fire situation and take all reasonable steps to ensure safe egress of students in any teaching space used by them, regardless of the location
  • Ensuring that they have appointed a suitable deputy to maintain appropriate supervision of the work under their control in their absence from the department

UCL employees

The attention of all UCL employees is drawn to their legal responsibilities** 

  • To take reasonable care of themselves and all others who may be affected by their acts and omissions
  • To co-operate with both the central and departmental policy and arrangements for safe working including any training and occupational health requirements
  • Not to interfere with or misuse anything, objects, structures or systems of work, provided by UCL in the interests of health and safety*** 

Any failure to comply with the above may lead to disciplinary action which could result in dismissal. Any breach of UCL's health and safety rules that places a member of staff or others in danger will be treated as gross misconduct under UCL's Disciplinary Procedure.

If you or your colleagues think there is a health and safety concern the steps you should consider in ranked priority order are:

  • Discuss the matter with your line manager
  • In the case of work-related health matters request a referral to Workplace Health
  • Contact your nominated Departmental Safety Specialist relevant to the topic area
  • Contact your health and safety representative

and at any time you can

Students and visitors

The attention of all students and all visitors is drawn to their legal responsibility not to interfere with or misuse anything, objects, structures or systems of work, provided by UCL in the interests of health and safety.

It shall be a condition of registration of students and the terms of reference of academic visitors that they co-operate with UCL by complying with this Policy.

Disabled persons and temporarily incapacitated

The Fire Safety Order 2005 requires employers to provide suitable evacuation procedures for people with disabilities, pregnant mothers and those with health conditions that make it difficult to self-evacuate in the event of an emergency. This includes the provision of refuges****, communications, fire warning systems and training for staff as far as reasonably practicable.

To assist in understanding an individual person’s emergency egress needs, UCL has developed a simple guide and assessment tool (UCL login required) to be used by Head of Departments (HoD) and their staff to develop an agreed individual strategy for emergency egress.

The agreed procedures with individual and departmental responsibilities are formally set out in the form of a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP).


Chapter 3 - Responsibilities


Chapter 3.2 - Management team safety responsibilities

Last updated: Tuesday, September 14, 2021


* The recorded departmental organisation and arrangements together with this document and the UCL Safety Policy document represent the UCL Statement of Safety Policy as required under S 2(3) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974

** Section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974

*** Section 8 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974

**** Refuge - area that is both separated by fire-resisting construction and provided with a safe route to a storey exit, thus constituting a temporarily safe space.