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Department of Computer Science and Technology


Departmental Safety Policy

1. General Policy and Responsibilities

In compliance with the University Safety Policy Statement (REPORTER 7th August 1996, and revised REPORTER 11th February 1998) it is the policy of the Department to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of staff, students, and any other persons who may use or visit the Computer Laboratory premises.

1.1 Responsibilities of the Head of the Computer Laboratory

The Head of the Computer Laboratory is responsible for health and safety in the department as stated in section 3 of the University Safety Policy.

General Responsibilities of Staff, Students, and any other persons who may use or visit the Computer Laboratory.

As stated in section 5 of the University Safety Policy, it is the responsibility of all persons:-

  1. To co-operate with the University in general and the department in particular on matters of health and safety.
  2. To use correctly any work items provided by the department or other employer including personal protective equipment (e.g. goggles, gloves, clothing) in accordance with training or instructions.
  3. Not to interfere with or misuse anything provided for health, safety or welfare.
  4. To make themselves familiar with the Emergency and Evacuation Procedures posted at main exit points to the Premises.

All Staff should be familiar with this Policy document, the University Safety Policy, relevant sections of the University Safety Manual and The Little Green Safety Book.

1.3 Policy Objectives

  1. To bring this Safety Policy statement to the attention of staff and members of the Department.
  2. To seek the co-operation of staff and other member and visitors to the department to promote health and safety awareness and the continual development of a positive safety culture.
  3. To ensure that the premises, plant and machinery are kept in a safe condition and that proper steps are taken to remedy defects.
  4. To ensure that working practices are safe or where hazard is unavoidable to conduct and record risk assessment to reduce it to an acceptable level.
  5. To ensure that regular safety inspections take place.
  6. To ensure that procedures for dealing with emergencies and first aid provision are in place and reviewed regularly.
  7. To provide adequate welfare facilities.
  8. To ensure that staff are informed, trained and given the supervision necessary for their health and safety.
  9. To comply with all current and future safety legislation.
  10. To allocate resources effectively to meet the aims of the policy.

2 Organisation and Structure

The Head of the Computer Laboratory has overall responsibility for health and safety in the department, this authority is delegated to the Chairman of the Departmental Safety Committee.

2.1 Delegation of duties

The Head of the Computer Laboratory has delegated certain duties in writing to the Departmental Safety Committee, Safety Officer, Fire Safety Manager and Building Services Manager as follows:

Safety Officer – To advise on health and safety matters affecting the department and act as advisor and co-ordinator within the department to ensure compliance with current health and safety legislation. The Safety Officer also acts as Disability Liaison contact for the department.

Fire Safety Manager – To advise on matters relating to fire safety affecting the department. To ensure that the department complies with current fire safety legislation. To arrange for training of volunteer fire wardens. To ensure that appropriate records are kept.

Facilities Manager – To ensure that the premises, services and plant are kept in good order to comply with current legislation and that appropriate records are kept. To be responsible for Electrical Safety (excluding Computer equipment) in the department. To oversee the activities of Contractors working on the premises. The Building Services manager also acts as Environmental Co-ordinator for the department.

Secretary to the Safety Officer – To ensure the safekeeping of records relating to health and safety. To keep the Departmental Accident Book, to keep and order First Aid supplies and keep records of First Aid qualifications. To ensure newly appointed Assistant Staff are given copies of The Little Green Safety book, the DSE book, the Departmental Safety Policy and the Induction checklist.

Individuals – All persons in the department have a responsibility both to ensure their own safety and the safety of any other person who may be affected by their actions. All persons in the department must comply with Departmental Safety Procedures.

2.2 The Safety Committee - Membership and Terms of Reference

Members of the Computer Laboratory Health and Safety Committee are listed on the Health and Safety Committee page.

The Departmental Safety Committee meets at least 4 times a year, to report to the Faculty Board.

The purpose of the Committee is:

  1. To provide general health and safety information and arrange for any necessary specialist instruction or training in health and safety.
  2. To advise the Head of Department on health and safety policy.
  3. To discuss and resolve any matter relevant to health and safety brought to its attention.
  4. To formulate and review emergency procedures.
  5. To make arrangements for/carry out regular safety inspections.
  6. To investigate accidents and incidents and recommend action to be taken to prevent recurrence.
  7. To monitor that appropriate risk assessments have been completed.
  8. To ensure that information received from the University Safety Office regarding changes in health and safety regulations is acted upon.
  9. To review this policy annually.

Membership of the Committee and Minutes of meetings are displayed on notice boards and on the Departmental Web pages.

Minutes are also distributed to the University Safety Advisers.

3 Health and Safety Management Arrangements and Procedures

(For contact telephone numbers and e-mail see Appendix A)

3.1 Reporting Hazards/Safety Problems

Anyone who becomes aware of a health or safety hazard must report it immediately to his/her supervisor or to the Departmental Safety Officer or member of the Safety Committee.

3.2 Contractors and Visitors to the Department

Contractors, Service Engineers and visitors to Computer Laboratory premises must report to Reception on arrival and identify a contact name in the Computer Laboratory who should meet them. That contact will be responsible for the conduct of the visitor(s) while on site and must ensure that they are made aware of Emergency and Evacuation procedures and any local conditions which may affect their health and safety; and that any work carried out by them does not affect the health and safety of others using the area.

Open Days: All areas to which Visitors are allowed must be adequately supervised. Restricted areas must be kept secure at all times.

Children: Following the University policy, children under 16 are only allowed on the premises with the permission of the Head of the Computer Laboratory. They must always be accompanied by an adult and should not enter kitchens or workshops. If arriving unaccompanied they should be met at Computer Laboratory Reception or at an entrance to the department.

3.3 Animals in the Department

The presence of animals in the department is forbidden, except for guide dogs. Animals may be admitted to departmental premises only with the permission of the Head of the Disabilities Officer. Animals brought into the department are the responsibility of their keeper who is required to keep them quietly under control. Animals may not be admitted to workshops, kitchens or other hazardous areas.

3.4 Accident/Incident Reporting

All accidents, near misses, injuries, work related illness (including problems relating to the use of display screen equipment) should be recorded using the University's AssessNet portal. Please inform the Secretary to the Safety Officer.

3.5 First Aid

See Appendix B for a list of First Aiders in the Computer Laboratory.

First Aid boxes are located in various locations within the Computer Laboratory and in Computer Laboratory Vehicles together with lists of qualified first aiders in the department.

A first aider should be contacted via Reception during working house but may be contacted directly by dialling one of the phone numbers on the green card, or via the University Security Control Centre.

The University Security Control Centre has trained first aiders who are available outside office hours.

The contents of First Aid boxes are checked and replenished monthly but please report any items used to the Secretary of the Computer Laboratory Safety Committee.

3.6 Accident/Injury/Illness

In cases of serious accident, injury or illness at work, get help without delay. Call either Reception on (7)63500 or the University Security Control Centre on 101 who will contact the Emergency Services and get immediate help for you.

If you call the Emergency Services directly you should send a responsible person to meet them at the entrance to the site; a first aider should also be called to give immediate assistance to the casualty. The Safety Officer should be informed as soon as possible.

Where Emergency Services are not required a first aider should be called to deal with the incident and an accident report form completed.

If a first aider is not required an accident report form should still be completed.

3.7 Medical conditions

Any member of staff who has a medical condition which may require special first aid treatment e.g.Allergy, may wish first aiders in the Computer Laboratory to be aware of this. Please consult the Departmental Safety Officer or a member of the Safety Committee in the first instance. Every reasonable effort will be made to maintain confidentiality.

3.8 Smoking

No smoking is permitted in the department.

3.9 Occupational Health

The University Occupational Health Service is available for consultation by any member of staff with a work related health problem. Anyone suspecting that they are suffering from work related illness should raise the issue with the Computer Laboratory Safety officer or with the Occupational Health Service directly.

3.10 Fire

Fire alarm call points are red 'Break Glass' boxes and are located on exit routes from the department and elsewhere. Wherever you may be working know all your means of escape and where the nearest fire alarm call points and extinguishers are.

Keep all fire doors and fire exit routes clear at all times.

Never prop open a fire door or obstruct a fire alarm call point.

Never enter a building where the fire alarm is going off.

To call the Emergency Services dial 1-999 on a university phone, or using 999 or 112 on a mobile. You will need to tell them the correct address (below) and the name of the building where the fire is:

University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory
William Gates Building
J J Thomson
Cambridge CB3 0FD

To call the University Security Control Centre in an emergency dial 101.

Fire alarm/Evacuation Procedure

The sound of the fire alarm may be a bell which is loud and continuous, the alarm is accompanied by spoken instructions.

On hearing the alarm leave the building by the nearest available exit. DO NOT use lifts.

If you encounter smoke or fire, turn your back and find another way out.

Proceed to the nearest assembly area. Do not re-enter the building until the all clear has been given by the fire brigade or the fire safety manager.

The Computer Laboratory has a number of trained volunteer Fire Wardens who will assist the Fire Safety Manager in the event of an Emergency Evacuation.

If you discover a fire

Raise the alarm by operating the nearest fire alarm call point which will alert University Security and then the fire brigade.

Close windows, switch off power and close doors on your way out if you are not putting yourself at risk by doing so.

From a safe place call Reception (7)63500 in the first instance. Outside working hours dial 1999 from a University phone, or 999 or 112 from a mobile, and give the Emergency Services any information they require.

Dial 101 to alert the University Security Control Centre.

Fighting a fire

First ALWAYS raise the alarm by operating the fire alarm call point.

Only use fire extinguishers if you have been trained to do so and there is no personal risk.

If an electrical appliance is on fire switch off the current if safe to do so before tackling the fire. DO NOT use a water extinguisher on an electrical fire.

Any use of fire extinguishers must be reported to the Fire Safety Manager.

Routine Procedures

Fire alarm call points are tested and logged on a regular basis by Building Services.

Fire extinguishing equipment is tested routinely by contractors employed by the University Fire Officer.

Buildings Fire Risk Assessments are carried out by the Computer Laboratory Fire Safety Manager and reviewed annually.

Practice evacuations of buildings are carried out annually.

The Safety Committee reviews the effectiveness of all Emergency Evacuations

3.11 Inspections

Routine Safety Inspections of all areas of the William Gates Building will be carried out annually. Inspections are carried out by members of the Safety Committee where possible. Reports will be issued to the Safety Committee and any necessary remedial action referred to the relevant authority.

3.12 Consultation and Communication

Any matters concerning health and safety that are brought to the attention of the Safety Committee either by the University Safety or Fire Officer or by any member of staff will be discussed at committee meetings and minuted and the appropriate action taken. For distribution of Minutes see section 2.4. above.

In general, staff will be informed of any health and safety information which is of concern, through Group Meetings or directly via email if appropriate.

The Trades Unions MSF and AUT can each nominate a Safety Representative in the Department, who will be members of the Safety Committee

3.13 Equipment, Plant and Machinery

Passenger Lifts are maintained by the Kone.

Lifting Equipment is inspected annually by the University Insurers and records are held by EMBS

Pressure Vessels are inspected annually by the University Insurers and records are held by EMBS.

3.14 Safe Systems of work

Out of hours working

Staff working out of normal office hours on Computer Laboratory premises must not use the machine tools and must not work on any unshielded high voltage electrical equipment.

In an Emergency call the University Security Control Centre on 101 or the call Emergency Services directly on 1999, 999 or 112.

Working in other Departments

While following the University safety policy staff must also make themselves aware of and comply with departmental safety policy and emergency procedures in the department in which they are working.

3.15 General Housekeeping

All areas should be kept clean and tidy and rubbish should be disposed of and not allowed to accumulate. Paper recycling bins are situated in most areas - use them.

Items accessed regularly should not be kept on shelves above head height; where such shelves are in use safe means of access - kick stool, ladder or scaffolding must be provided and used. NEVER stand on a chair or desk to access something out of reach.

Desk and Filing cabinet drawers should not be left open.

Broken furniture and fittings should be reported to Building Services.

3.17 Risk Assessment

Risk Assessment must be carried out and recorded wherever there is a significant risk of injury or ill health from a hazard or hazardous process. Risks may arise from machinery, transport, access, handling/lifting, electricity, dust, chemicals (see section 3.21 below), environmental factors, poor organisation etc.

It is the responsibility of the Departmental Safety Officer to ensure that risk assessments are carried out, recorded and reviewed in consultation with the staff concerned. Advice can be obtained from the University Safety Office.

Risk Assessments will be reviewed at reasonable intervals.

3.18 Electrical Safety

Portable Electrical Equipment

Portable Electrical equipment is subject to a programme of testing which is carried out by the Building Services Group. Any equipment failing the tests will be removed from service immediately. Do not use any equipment that does not have a valid green safety test sticker.

Faults or problems with any electrical equipment must be reported to Building Services without delay and the equipment removed from service immediately.

Users of portable electrical equipment - e.g. kettles, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, socket blocks - should visually check the equipment regularly and report any signs of wear or damage to Building Services.

Socket blocks must never be chained one to another.

Under no circumstances may privately owned heaters or fans be used on the premises. Staff requiring extra heating or cooling should contact Building Services.

Also see the University of Cambridge Code of Practice for Electrical Safety.

Residual Current Devices

RCD's should be tested regularly for correct mechanical operation and earth continuity. The testing program is operated by Building Services.

Computer Equipment

Staff should perform a visual check of their workstation(s) regularly to ensure that cables, plugs and sockets are secure and free from damage. Where socket blocks are used cables must be plugged in firmly; socket blocks must be kept clear of paper and other items. Drinks must not be stored or consumed where spillage into any equipment or electric socket could occur. There must be sufficient space around the equipment for ventilation and cooling; ventilation slots must not be blocked by documents, media etc.

Faults on staff workstations should be reported to the system administration team - email to Sys admin.

Computer workstations in public areas (PWF) will be subject to a programme of electrical testing carried out by the Computing Service.

Faults on PWF equipment should be reported to the Student Administrator in the Computer Laboratory in the first instance.

Staff workstations can be electrically tested on request.

3.19 Safe use of Display Screen Equipment

The University of Cambridge Code of Practice for the safe use of Display Screen Equipment (VDUs) is available in hard copy and online. It is a manual which contains all the information necessary to set up a workstation correctly and should be consulted whenever a workstation is set up, after which the checklist at the back of the manual should be completed by the person who is going to use the workstation and sent to the Secretaries' office.

A copy of the DSE manual and checklist is given to all staff on joining the Department, and the manual can be found online in the University safety pages. Leaflets entitled Working safely with display screen equipment are also available from any member of the safety committee.

Assessments will be carried out every 3 years and whenever there is a change in equipment or location. If you have a new workstation or change your location please ask at the Secretaries' Office for a DSE self assessment checklist.

Self assessments will be checked by a trained DSE assessor in the Department.

A DSE assessor will provide help and advice on completing the checklist at the user's request.

The Occupational Health Service also runs half day courses on self-assessment - see the Safety Office Web site for details.

For a list of trained DSE assessors in the Department see Appendix C.

For information on eyesight tests for users of Display Screen Equipment see the DSE manual.

It is important that workstations are set up correctly, that any additional equipment e.g.footrest/document holder are provided where appropriate and that adequate rest periods be taken from the keyboard according to current guidelines in order to avoid possible health problems in the future.

Food and drink should not be consumed at the workstation.

If you think you have a health problem relating to your workstation please consult the Departmental Safety Officer or the Occupational Health Service without delay.

3.20 Manual Handling

Staff who are required to lift and carry any equipment as part of their work must be trained in correct Manual Handling techniques

Training in Manual Handling techniques will be organised at regular intervals.

Never attempt to move or lift anything which you think may be too heavy - always get help from trained staff. Trolleys are available from Stores or the Computer Officers for transporting equipment.

3.21 Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH)

COSHH Risk Assessment must be carried out wherever the handling/use of chemicals is involved. This includes the use of some proprietary cleaning fluids. Forms and guidance can be obtained from the Safety Officer. One copy of the COSHH form should be kept in the relevant area and one given to the Departmental Safety Officer for reference. Procedures should be reviewed annually.

3.22 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

PPE is provided by the Department - this includes safety glasses, safety shoes, gloves, ear defenders - and must be worn when and where required.

Equipment should be maintained in good condition and replaced when necessary by the manager responsible.

Safety shoes should be replaced annually or sooner if they become damaged.

APPENDIX A - Contact telephone numbers

  • Emergency Services - 1-999, 999 or 112
  • Security -
    Routine call - 31818
    Emergency call - 101
  • Safety Officer/Disability Liaison - Piete Brooks - 34659
  • Secretary to the Safety Officer - Kate Ellis - 34704
  • Fire Safety Manager - Martin McDonnell - 34665
  • Reception - (7)63500
  • Occupational Health Nurse - 36597
  • University Safety and Environment Office - 33301
  • Safety Office Web Site

APPENDIX B - First Aiders in the Computer Laboratory

The first aiders page provides a list of first aiders in the department and how to contact them.

During office hours, you can also call:

  • Reception on (7)63500
  • The University Security Control Centre 31818 (or 101 in an Emergency)
    Please be aware they are not on site and so whilst they may be able to offer support over the phone, their arrival for assistance will be delayed whilst they travel to the lab from the New Museums site in the City Centre.

APPPENDIX C - Computer Laboratory DSE Assessors

The laboratory's DSE assessor is:

  • Piete Brooks

Last review: 2023