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Safety and Security at Work

Safe working practices

The University is legally obliged to provide a safe place for you to work. However, you are expected to take reasonable care for yourself and anyone else who may be affected by what you do (or do not do) at work. This includes co-operating with anyone having specific safety duties relating to safety management in your department, e.g. the Departmental Safety Officer (DSO), the Radiation Protection Supervisor, and the Biological Safety Officer.

On induction into your department you should receive a copy of the Little Green Safety Book in which you will find the University Safety Policy Statement. This book is given to all members of staff, students and visitors; it contains a wealth of general safety information.

In relation to health and safety your duties are to:

  • take reasonable care for the health and safety of yourself and all other persons likely to be affected by your actions or omissions;
  • co-operate with the University in measures for health and safety;
  • comply with any request from your head of institution, to undergo any health check and monitoring that s/he may consider necessary in relation to your duties or any change in those duties;
  • not interfere with or misuse equipment etc provided for health, safety or welfare.

Current details of these policies, and other information including the invaluable Little Green Safety Book, are on the web pages of the Safety Office. Some safety courses are offered as part of the University's staff development Programme.


Security arrangements in the University aim to protect people and property around the University. These include alarms and closed-circuit TV systems in many major University sites, as well as a 24-hour a day uniformed patrol service. Many of the Security Patrollers are trained in emergency aid. The Security Control Centre monitors the CCTV images and most of the intruder and fire alarm systems.

The Control Centre is staffed 24 hours a day all year round, providing a focal point for the reporting of serious incidents and implementation of emergency procedures. It helps all University employees and students with any security problem that might arise, including quickly responding to fire, intruder and building management systems alarms, as well as non-security emergencies.

However, it is also the responsibility of every individual working in the University to be vigilant about security. Take as much care of your personal belongings and the equipment in your department as you would at home. Computer theft, including lap-top machines, is a particularly serious problem; lock up offices at night, and if you notice a person or event that rouses your suspicions, please inform the University Security Control Centre immediately at any time, day or night.

If you have any questions about general aspects of security, whether relating to buildings or equipment, contact the Security Adviser.

If you see anything of a suspicious nature, please report it to the University Security Control Centre or to the Security Patrollers.

Health and welfare


The Counselling Service is available to all undergraduate and graduate members of the University and the Theological Colleges. A separate and dedicated University Staff Counselling Service is available for all University employees.

Full details of the Service, which is based at 2-3 Bene't Place, are available online. You can make an appointment to see the staff counsellor or make an enquiry either by phone or email (see contact box below). Office opening times are 09:00 - 17:00, Monday to Friday; there is an answering machine at all other times.

Stress at work

The University places a high value on maintaining a healthy and safe working environment for all its employees, and recognises that this duty of care extends to mental as well as physical health. The University is committed to identifying sources of stress in the workplace, and taking action to reduce this.

The Human Resources Division, Occupational Health and the Counselling Service have together drawn up a detailed policy on dealing with stress at work; this is available online. If you feel you need to discuss this issue, please contact your local administrator in the first instance. You may then be referred on to your HR Consultant, or Occupational Health. There is also an Employment Assistance Officer; see below.

The Employee Assistance Service

The Employee Assistance Service offers general advice, support and information to all staff.

The Disability Resource Centre

The Disability Resource Centre provides advice, information and support to students and staff with a disability. Centre staff are responsible for developing University disability policy and practice, working with the University Advisory Committee on Disability. Full details and further information and links are available online.

Occupational health

The Occupational Health Service is based at 16 Mill Lane, Cambridge. Its main functions are to prevent ill health arising from work and to promote health at work. Its staff are available between 08:30 and 16:30 Monday to Friday, by appointment, for confidential advice and consultation on all matters relating to work activities. The Service does not provide emergency treatment, and you should contact your institution's First Aider for this. The Service works closely with the Safety Adviser.

The aims of the Occupation Health Service include:

  • to assist the University in carrying out its duty of care towards staff by providing, monitoring and developing awareness of health issues (including ensuring that work does not adversely affect health, and that an individual's health status does not put him/herself or others at risk at work)
  • to assist the University in complying with relevant Statutory Regulations
  • to assist the University in complying with its own policies and procedures
  • to provide screening and vaccination for clinical and PGCE students
  • to work closely with related services (e.g. the Safety Office, the Counselling Service, College Nurses, the Disability Adviser, and Community Medicine in relation to the Expedition Medical Service)
  • to maintain confidential medical records so as to maximise the support that can be given to both individuals and managers.

To meet these aims, the Occupation Health Service will help identify and control work-related health hazards; provide health surveillance for certain staff groups; provide appropriate vaccinations; advise on an individual's fitness for work; develop strategies for prompt recognition and treatment of work-related injuries and illness; advise on rehabilitation and resettlement after illness or injury; promote health education programmes; inform and advise on travel medicine (including providing travel packs - for which there is a charge); and provide counselling for work-related health problems.

Other advice and information relating to health and safety at work is available from the Codes of Practice and Policy Procedures listed below, which you can get from your local administrator. In addition the Training Directory produced by the Human Resources Division provides details of courses on specific issues, such as stress awareness, working with VDUs, hazards of cyanide and hydrofluoric acid. These are open to any member of staff for whom they may be relevant.

  • Occupational Health
  • Code of Practice for the use of VDUs in the University Laboratory
  • Animal Allergy Policy and Procedures
  • Laser Code of Practice; Protection Policy on Animal Bites and Scratches
  • Cambridge University Guidelines on HIV and AIDS
  • University Alcohol and Drug Abuse Policy
  • Contact the Occupational Health Service at: (3)36597; email:

Environmental issues

Although many environmental concerns are global, there is much that can be done locally to contribute to a more sustainable future. The University of Cambridge is committed to that goal. The web pages of the Environmental Office (part of Estate Management, EM) contain information on environmental aspects of the University's operations. As well as the University's environmental policy, this site links you to information on:

  • the University's Transport and Environmental Plans
  • guidance for disposal of chemical and other waste
  • other related websites.

Data protection

The Data Protection Act 1998 sets out rules for processing personal information, and it applies to some paper records as well as those held on computer. The Act gives individuals certain rights, and also imposes obligations on those who record and use personal information to be open about how information is used and to follow eight data protection principles. Personal data must be processed following these principles so that data are:

  • processed fairly and lawfully and only if certain conditions are met
  • obtained for specified and lawful purposes
  • adequate, relevant and not excessive
  • accurate and where necessary kept up-to-date
  • not kept for longer than necessary
  • processed in accordance with the subject's rights
  • kept secure
  • not transferred abroad without adequate protection.

Full details of your rights and responsibilities under the Data Protection Act are available online.


All reasonable steps should be taken to ensure that personal data is secure. For details of suggested steps, see the DPA web pages given below.

All requests for access to data, including those from the police, should be directed to the University Data Protection Officer (contact details below).

Personal data