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School of Social and Political Science: About


Health and Safety


The School of Social and Political Science aims to provide a safe and health working environment for its students, staff and visitors. The policy and its operation is reviewed annually.

All staff and students are responsible for ensuring they work in a manner that is safe to themselves and to others, and to comply with the relevant requirements of both the University and School Health and Safety Policies.

All staff and students are urged to read the relevant parts of the University Health and Safety Policy and in particular, Part 2 General Precautions and, where relevant, Part 8 'Fieldwork and Outdoor Activities';. The policy is available at:


The Head of School, Professor Linda McKie, is responsible to the University Court for the management of health and safety matters within the School of Social and Political Science.

The School Safety Advisers, Neil Willett and Megan Cruickshank have been appointed by Professor McKie to take a special interest in the promotion of health and safety matters, as well as provide a first line of advice. They are empowered to act on behalf of the Head of School in respect of these matters.

Professor Robin Williams 0131 650 6387, is the Area Safety Adviser for Old Surgeons' Hall.  At all other SPS sites Neil Willett 0131 651 1622 and Megan Cruickshank 0131 651 1322 are the primary contacts.

Fire Safety

On Discovering a Fire

  1. Operate the “break glass” alarm point
  2. Leave the building by the nearest available route
  3. Assemble at the location indicated on building Fire Action notices.
  4. Ensure that the University Emergency Service (dial 2222 from an internal phone or 0131 651 3999) has been informed, if you have not already done this. They will call the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

Full information is available at

Fire Precautions

All staff and students must familiarise themselves with the location of fire doors and fire exits, as many buildings have multiple means of escape. All staff and students should note the location of the nearest fire extinguishers and fire alarm call points, and review instructions for their use. If an individual chooses to use the available firefighting equipment to combat a fire this is their personal choice. There is no requirement or expectation that staff, students or visitors must do so.

Emergency exit routes must remain tidy and free from obstacles. Staff and students must not position or store flammable materials on emergency exit routes or blocking immediate access to fire alarms, fire equipment or electrical switchgear.

Fire Prevention

Electrical equipment should not be left running overnight except where necessary. Doors to rooms and staircase enclosures should be kept closed. Staff, students and visitors are reminded that smoking, including the use of electronic cigarettes, is not permitted on University premises, except in specially designated areas (of which there are none on School premises).


All accidents, fires, “near misses”, and instances of known or suspected occupational ill health, must be reported to the Director of Health and Safety. The preferred method of reporting is via the online form at This will automatically notify the Health and Safety Department, as well as the School Safety Advisers. Any incident or accident at work that results in an individual being absent from work must be drawn to the attention of the School Safety Advisers by the individual or his/her line supervisor.

All accidents/incidents, except those of a minor nature, will be investigated by the appropriate School personnel and any necessary remedial measures, including revised work procedures, training, etc., will be implemented as appropriate. This includes the reporting of accidents that are a result of a defect in the fabric or structure of a building. Accidents/incidents will be reviewed at the meetings of the Management Committee (see section 12).

Accidents/incidents of a serious nature must be highlighted directly to the Health and Safety Department by t as soon as possible after the occurrence.

First Aid

First Aid notices are found on each floor of SPS exclusive buildings, and on noticeboards in central locations in shared sites. These notices detail the location of the nearest first aid kit and provide contact details for local first aiders.

If a qualified first aider is not available, please ensure that an ambulance is called as per the procedure below. 

In the event of a serious injury or ill health requiring an ambulance:

  • dial (9)999 and ask for the Ambulance Service, stating your name, location and telephone number.  Follow the Ambulance Service operator's instructions.
  • follow this up with a call to the University Security Section (dial 2222).
  • If possible, arrange for someone to be at the main entrance to the building, to show the Emergency Services the way to the incident.

Full information is available at

Risk Assessment

The majority of the activities carried out by the School are routine and generally low risk in nature and do not require a formal risk assessment.

However, for any activity involving a significant risk, including travel, fieldwork, and student trips, a written risk assessment must be carried out. Model templates, generic risk assessments and checklists are available at:

Risk assessments must be brought to the attention of all relevant staff and students involved in the activity, and a copy sent to Neil Willett. Risk assessments must be regularly reviewed (i.e., annually) to ensure the information contained within them remains valid.


Information on training courses provided by the University's Health and Safety Department are set out at

Staff who perform specific health and safety roles, such as School Safety Advisers, First Aiders, and Fire Stewards, will be provided with training specific to these roles.  

It is a core training requirement of the School that all staff complete the University's DSE training and risk assessment package (see also workstations section below).  


All users of display screen equipment must undertake a risk assessment of their workstation to ensure it is set up correctly to reduce the likelihood of any adverse effects from using the equipment.  Further information for staff is available at

All staff must complete the University's DSE training and risk assessment.  

Eye Tests

University employees who are regular users of display screen equipment (DSE/VDU) should be made aware that, upon request, they will be provided with a vision test and eye examination - a DSE/VDU Eye Test. For further information, see

Manual Handling

A risk assessment form must be completed for all manual handling tasks where it is considered that the task places an employee or student at risk of injury. If the load is considered small enough and light enough to be easily moved safely by one person repetitively without risk of sprain or strain, then it is not necessary to complete the form. The form is available at

Personal Security and Safety

It is essential that all building users be vigilant and take steps that to lessen risk and promote a safe and secure environment. 

  • The SPS Facilities Team puts up standard fault notices to signify a fault has been identified and reported.  If a fault has occurred and a notice is not in evidence, the location and nature of the fault must be reported to as soon as possible.
  • If a fault is noticed elsewhere on campus and it is not obvious it has been reported, provide details to
  • In the event of a building/facilities emergency, especially outside core working hours, Security must be notified: 0131 650 2222.
  • The last person in an office or teaching space is responsible for securing windows and doors upon departure.
  • Office doors must never be left unlocked when no one is in.
  • Take extra care when entering and exiting buildings outside core hours, noting that the door has closed securely and no one has “tailgated” (entered the building without using a card)
  • While not mandatory, it is best practice for staff and students to wear their University of Edinburgh issued cards on a lanyard whilst on campus.

If at any time you feel unsafe, or have witnessed something that makes you feel uncomfortable or vulnerable, do not hesitate to contact Security: 0131 650 2257, or in an emergency: 0131 650 2222. The University’s Security Section is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. 

Access to buildings

Section 4.10 of the University's Health and Safety Policy (available at states the University's policy on access to University Buildings and Late Working.  Staff should familiarise themselves with this, but for ease, some points are drawn to their attention below:

  • Security staff have the authority to ask the identity of persons found in the building outside normal working hours and to check this information. 
  • Any work which entails a risk of serious personal injury or fire by persons working alone in the evenings or at weekends, irrespective of the status of the worker, is prohibited.
  • Young children should only be brought into buildings under exceptional circumstances, especially outside normal working hours.  However, if this is unavoidable, it is absolutely essential to provide strict and close supervision at all times.
  • Dogs and other pets are not allowed in University buildings, with the exception of service animals.
  • Bicycles may be kept inside a University building only after the Head of School has given specific permission.  During a fire evacuation, bicycles must not be taken into the emergency exit routes.

Monitoring the School Health and Safety Policy

A self-inspection (safety audit) of the School will take place every 12 months to monitor the effectiveness of the health and safety policy. The inspection will be made by Neil Willett.

Health and Safety Queries or Issues

All staff and students encountering any kind of health and safety hazard in this School should report these promptly to the relevant Area Safety Adviser (see part 2 above), or to the School Safety Advisers Neil Willett and Megan Cruickshank, or in their absence, to any senior member of staff.

Health and safety is a standing item on the agenda of the meetings of the Management Committee.

Any member of the School who wishes to raise a health and safety item at this Committee, should inform Neil Willett as soon as possible.

Updated 15/04/2019