MINUTES OF THE HEALTH AND SAFETY COMMITTEE
held on 28 May 2002
PRESENT: Mr K Royales (Chair), Ms C Atkinson, Ms V Burnett,
Mrs R Balderson, Mr C Barker, Dr A Grinyer, Ms H Loftus,
Ms E Nutt, Mr A Waddington, Mr A Madeley (Secretary)
In attendance: Ms F Aiken, Mr N Annis, Ms J Bullock, Mr P Cook, Mr A Evans,
Mrs L Mullett
SC/02/10 Apologies for absence
The University Safety and Radiation Protection Officer (USRPO) reported that
apologies had been received from Debbie Bell, John Hughes, Steve Lunn,
Ray Macdonald, Ron Oswald, Paul Tynan, and Angie Park, who was represented by
SC/02/11 To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 5 February 2002
The USRPO reported that he had not received any requests for alterations to the
minutes of the meeting held on 5 February 2002.
SC/02/12 Matters Arising
12.1 Health and safety information for visitors to the University
The USRPO said that, at the previous meeting, the mechanism by which
visitors to the University could be given brief information about health and
safety had been discussed. The USRPO had offered to produce a short leaflet
which could be made available in the University Reception Building. The draft
of this information leaflet was presented for discussion and approval. He drew
attention to the issue of entry to buildings. The draft presented for approval
stated that most buildings were freely accessible to visitors, which reflected the
current practice. He informed the Committee that this had consequences for
the way in which the buildings were constructed. If, for example, the University
were to prohibit children from entry into its buildings and effectively ensure that
this prohibition were enforced, it would be possible to adopt a more relaxed
standard with respect to guarding of stairways and other openings. There had
been a rolling programme of improvements to stairways in existing buildings to
make them safer for children but the programme had not yet been completed.
In the discussion that followed, the draft was accepted with the removal of the
reference to the road traffic regulations as it was considered to be misleading.
It was also agreed that copies of the leaflet would be made available in the
Reception Building, the Reception Desk in University House and in the
Management School Reception. The USRPO said that he would also bring the
leaflet to the attention of the Heads of Department by means of an email. The
leaflet would also be incorporated in the safety policy web pages.
12.2 Meeting with Safety Advisers from NERC
The USRPO said that the issue of co-operation between the University and
NERC, once the LEC building was completed, had been raised several times at
the Health and Safety Committee. He informed the Committee that on
Tuesday, 18 June the NERC Central Safety Adviser and the Safety Officer from
Merlewood would be meeting with the USRPO in order to discuss how the
University and NERC could co-operate on safety.
SC/02/13 Interim report on the discovery of asbestos in County College
The USRPO reported that in 1997 a contractor had been employed to remove all
asbestos from the University plant rooms. Clearance certificates had been issued
on completion of the work.
Guidance from the HSE required the removal contractor to, on completion of the
work, make a thorough visual inspection to ensure that all visible traces of asbestos
debris had been removed as far as was reasonably practicable.
As part of the process of preparing to hand over some of the University residences to
an external company, a survey had been conducted in February 2002. Various
buildings were surveyed for the presence of asbestos. This was carried out by a
contractor on behalf of the University. The survey indicated the presence of small
quantities of asbestos debris in various areas, including County College Plant Room.
It should not have been expected that asbestos would be found in the plant room
except in an element that was not within the remit of the asbestos removal contract.
Examples of these elements were compressed asbestos fibres in gaskets or
asbestos packing on valve stems.
As a result of the recent survey, the original asbestos removal contractor had been
asked to remove all traces of asbestos from the County College Plant Room. This
had allegedly been carried out during the week beginning 6 May and a clearance
certificate had been issued on 7 May.
On 15 May two samples of suspected asbestos, both from areas which had been
drawn to the attention of the asbestos removal contractor, were taken by the Safety
Office from County College Plant Room. These were analysed and asbestos had
been identified in both samples.
Access to County College Plant Room was currently prohibited and work in any plant
room, that may create dust, was also prohibited. This information had been
communicated to the managers of workers who accessed the plant rooms.
Two meetings had been held with the maintenance staff in an attempt to explain the
situation and address their understandable concerns. The maintenance staff had
asked the question
"if the removal contractor did not remove all the asbestos from County
College Plant room, even though it was certified that this had taken place,
how can we be sure that asbestos has been removed completely from the
other plant rooms?"
It was not possible to answer this question unless a thorough survey was
The USRPO had met with the Director of Estate Management who had agreed that a
survey of the other plant rooms would be undertaken. On receipt of the survey,
action would be taken to clear any residual asbestos insulation identified by the
survey. The company that had undertaken the recent survey in the residences had
been requested to submit a quote for this work.
The USRPO concluded by saying that he believed that this was a serious situation
which could result in adverse publicity for the University and the possibility, albeit
remote, of legal action.
SC/02/14 Incident involving Lancaster University Women's Boat Club –
19 February 2002
The USRPO reported that on Tuesday, 19 February 2002 a boat containing nine
members of the Lancaster University Women's Boat Club had been involved in an
incident on the River Lune. The boat had been swept over Skerton Weir. The boat
had been severely damaged and the occupants had been deposited in the River
Lune. Fortunately no-one was badly hurt. The students had been rescued partly
by the endeavours of other members of the Boat Club and partly with the assistance
of the emergency services. The Safety Office had been requested to enquire into
this incident. This inquiry was currently being conducted and would concentrate on
1 The Amateur Rowing Association's safety code was being properly implemented
2 the decision to row on the River Lune on the day of the incident was arrived at
3 it was possible to produce clear guidelines to indicate how the state of the river
should be assessed and whether there were any clear objective criteria that
could be used in doing so
Peter Cook, who was undertaking this enquiry, reported that discussions had taken
place with the club coach and safety officer. They had confirmed that, in their
opinion, conditions for rowing on the day of the incident had been good and that the
decision to row was correct. However, they accepted that written guidance, using
objective criteria, should be produced to assist with the assessment of river
The Club was implementing most of the Amateur Rowing Association Code of
Practice on Water Safety, but there were some points that needed to be
Lorna Mullett asked if there were any sources of information about river conditions.
Peter Cook replied that the Environment Agency had a telephone service which gave
water levels at two points higher up the Lune and indicated whether the level was
rising or falling.
Helen Loftus said that there was a local water sports company which had a website
providing information (uk-watersports.co.uk).
In response to comments made about the carrying capacity of the Boat Club's
coaching launch, Jenny Bullock reported that the Athletic Union was reviewing it's
suitability including the power of its motor.
Emma Nutt added that the consequences of the incident could have been a lot
worse and commended the action of the people concerned in responding to the
SC/02/15 University Health and Safety Management: Code of Practice
The USRPO introduced the document, which had been published recently, by saying
that it was an update of the document published by the CVCP in 1995. He believed
it to be a document that required detailed consideration and discussion and
proposed that it be introduced at the current meeting with more detailed discussion
taking place at the next meeting of the Health and Safety Committee in October
2002. The document had been produced by a topic group consisting of six
university safety officers with a member of the Health and Safety Executive in
attendance. The document described how the senior management of the university
should manage safety and then went on to describe how safety should be managed
at a departmental level. The Health and Safety Executive had indicated that they
considered it to be an important document and had written to all Vice Chancellors
commending the document and posing a set of questions for the Vice Chancellor to
answer. The USRPO would be preparing a summary of the documen, together with
recommendations on how the guidance in the document could be implemented, as a
report for UMAG. He emphasised that many of the recommendations in the
document were already incorporated in this university's procedures but there were
also areas where additional effort would be required.
SC/02/16 Means of escape for disabled people
The USRPO informed the Committee that the issue of evacuating disabled people
from university buildings, in the case of an emergency, had been discussed with the
Fire Service some years ago. A simple procedure, whereby the disabled person
would wait on the landing within a protected staircase, had been agreed with the Fire
Service. The Fire Service would then rescue the disabled person from the
staircase. However, it had recently become apparent that the Fire Service were
taking the view that it was the employer's responsibility to ensure that all people were
evacuated from a building in the case of an emergency. The USRPO had written to
the Fire Service suggesting alterations to the current procedure. The revised
procedure would involve University Security who would evacuate disabled people
from the staircase by use of an evacuation chair. This chair was like a wheelchair
but it had runners which enabled it to be pushed down a staircase. The reply from
the Fire Service confirmed that it was the university's responsibility to evacuate
disabled people and suggested that the University followed the guidance given in
British Standard 5588 : Fire precautions in the design, construction and use of
buildings – Part 8 Code of practice for means of escape for disabled people. Briefly
the Code of Practice required the following
A management plan to assist disabled persons in the event of a fire alarm. A
'PEEP' (Personal Emergency Egress Plan) should be developed for each person,
including arrangements for carrying down stairs.
Refuges of adequate size to avoid restricting egress width. A refuge was
required on each floor of each protected staircase.
Ramps where there are changes in level on floors, eg. short flights of steps.
Staircases for use by semi-ambulant or visually impaired people should have
continuous handrails, consistently-sized goings and risers, etc. Nosings should
be a contrasting colour to the steps.
Lifts provided for the evacuation of disabled persons (‘evacuation lifts’) should be:
situated within a protected shaft and a protected lobby at each storey
provided with a protected route from the evacuation lift lobby at the final exit
level to the final exit
provided with an alternative fire-protected power supply.
The USRPO had spoken to the University's Disabilities Adviser. The USRPO made
the following recommendations
1 That the University adopts the revised procedure as suggested in the
USRPO's letter to the Fire Service
2 That the Safety Office should co-operate with the Disabilities Adviser to
produce personal emergency egress plans (PEEP) for members of staff and
students who it was thought would be likely to have difficulty in evacuating the
University's buildings. These plans would be based on the buildings that
were normally used by the individual.
3 That the University adopted the British Standard BS5588: Part 8 for all new
buildings where it was intended that disabled people would have access to
anywhere other than the ground floor.
A member of the Committee enquired why the Fire Service approach had changed.
The USRPO replied that, since the original procedure had been agreed, the Fire
Precautions (Workplace) Regulations had been enacted. These Regulations placed
the responsibility for ensuring fire safety on the employer. This included the
evacuation of buildings in case of a fire.
A member of the Committee enquired whether it would be a departmental
responsibility to create the PEEP. The USRPO replied that this should be a joint
approach involving the University's Disability Adviser, the Safety Office and the
At the conclusion of the discussion, the recommendations made by the USRPO were
SC/02/17 Report of the University Safety & Radiation Protection Officer
covering the period 1 January – 17 May 2002
The USRPO introduced his report by saying that it listed the safety training that had
been undertaken by the Safety Office as well as the accidents and fires that had
been reported to the Safety Office. A member of the Committee drew attention to
several back injuries that had been experienced by cleaners. The USRPO replied
that this issue had been discussed with the Manager of Cleaning Services as part of
the safety audit, with the recommendation that manual handling assessments should
be completed and training provided for those cleaners who had not already been
The USRPO reported on the circumstances of the injuries to cleaners caused by
sharp objects being placed in the rubbish sacks. In most cases the stronger outer
bag was not being used or was being used incorrectly.
A member of the Committee drew attention to the accident where a security officer
picked up an insulin pen and received a prick from the needle. The Head of
Security reported that the emergency kit carried in the security van contained gloves
to prevent this type of accident. However, the van was being serviced and the
emergency kit had not been removed from the van.
Attention was drawn to the large number of accidents to visitors caused when they
were hit by flying objects or collided with stationary objects. The USRPO replied
that the majority of these accidents involved the children at the Pre School Centre
who, for the purposes of these statistics, were regarded as visitors.
SC/02/18 To receive the report of the safety audit carried out in the following
Conferences and Catering
The Committee received the report of the safety audit of Conferences and Catering.
SC/02/19 Any other business
Carol Atkinson drew attention to an accident where the Dean of the Management
School had tripped over a raised paving slab and fallen badly. Alan Waddington
replied that, if the uneven paving slab was reported to Estates, it would be dealt with.
SC/02/20 Date of next meeting
Tuesday, 22 October 2002 at 2.00pm in the Senate Chamber.
University Safety and Radiation Protection Officer