Student placement health and safety

The University has a duty of care to all its students when travelling and studying/researching/working both in the UK and abroad as part of their degree course. The law requires organisers of student placements to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that students are not placed in an environment where there are significant risks to their health and safety. To make this judgement organisers need to take account of various risk factors, including those associated with the work/study/research, location and individual students.

This Standard on student placements was approved by USG on 19 June 2017. It sets minimum requirements to ensure the safety of our students whilst they are on placement. It is based on the USHA publication: Health and Safety Guidance for the Placement of Higher Education Students (.pdf) and complements the ASET Health and Safety for Student Placement Guidance (.pdf).

The procedures are risk based, which means that for placements that are low risk, minimal action is needed.

Health and safety procedures

Some departments already have health and safety procedures in place for managing student placements. The procedures below do not replace departmental procedures, however it we recommend they are reviewed against these procedures and the USHA Health and Safety Guidance for the Placement of Higher Education Students (.pdf) to ensure that they are of a similar standard.

Guidance to Health Clearance, Screening & Immunisation (HSC & SRES Students Only)

Students who have applied to study health programmes are required to obtain Occupational Health (OH) clearance.  This in two parts: part one - health clearance questionnaire and part two - vaccination clearance.  OH clearance is necessary to ensure that you are physically and mentally fit for all aspects of the course, and to protect the public who may be affected by your placement activities.  It is vital that we look at any potential risks you may be exposed to during your studies or when on placement in order to safeguard you by managing or reducing these risks as far as reasonably practicable. We have produced guidance (.pdf) for you to provide further information on this process.

Student placement risk assessment record (all placements)

The student placement risk assessment record is a formal record to show that all risks associated with the student placement have been assessed and appropriately managed. It will be based on information obtained from the host employer through discussion, email and/or the from the employer health and safety checklist form (UK placements (.docx) or non-UK placements (.dotx)) and any other information you have about other risk factors (e.g. individual student factors such as disability, location/travel, student wellbeing).

You will need to complete the student placement risk assessment record sent via DocuSign using the risk profiling and actions table (.pdf) for guidance. The table also gives a range of possible actions depending on the risk. In many cases the risk will be low and no further action will be needed. The risk assessment record can be used for a group of students going to the same placement location.

Travel Insurance

All students who are travelling overseas. or staying overnight or travelling by air within the UK for their placements will need to complete the Travel Insurance Application Form to obtain details of their insurance cover. The student should check with insurance for any help or queries completing this form. Students must also be advised that the University’s insurance will not cover them for adventurous activities carried out recreationally (i.e. in their own time rather than as part of the work experience, study or research), holiday time or personal possessions. For any queries regarding this the student should contact

When the student completes the Travel Insurance Application form, they will need to put Placements email address where appropriate. This will enable the relevant team to monitor and manage applications for insurance and completion of risk assessments and training where required.


If students have to make their own arrangements for accommodation during their placement, we recommend they are given guidance on choosing safe accommodation (.pdf), as well as completing the relevant accommodation checklist

Written communication

Written communications with the host employer and student should clarify expectations and responsibilities in relation to health and safety. It may also be necessary to ask an employer to answer questions you may have regarding their management of health and safety.

We recommend the following statements (or something similar) are included in learning agreements or quality commitments:

  • the University undertakes to provide general information to students on health and safety in relation to work and, where relevant, overseas travel.
  • the host organisation undertakes to have suitable arrangements in place for health and safety, in compliance with relevant legislation and provide appropriate information, instruction, training and supervision for the student's health and safety as a volunteer or employee.
  • the student undertakes to comply with the host organisations and University's health and safety requirements, and to report any health and safety concerns, accidents or incidents in which they are involved to the host employer and University.

UK placements - assessing the suitability of the host employer or place of study / research

Before a student undertakes study/research/work at a host location the Work-Based Learning Manager / Officer must check that the placement provider has suitable arrangements for health and safety and ensure that they have appropriate insurance.

Guidance on Assessing the Placement Provider (.docx) will help you to use a risk based approach to assessing the health and safety arrangements of an employer. The action needed will depend on the risks associated with the work placement and so the risk profiling and actions table (.pdf) should be used to determine appropriate action. If you need to take further action (e.g. if you need to ask the host employer for further information) you can either ask further specific questions, or use the Employer Health and Safety Checklist: UK Placements (.docx). Keep a record of communications with the placement provider and decisions made. The 'For University Use' box at the end of the Employer Health and Safety Checklist can be used for this purpose.

Small employer health and safety requirements (optional)

Some small UK employers may not have formal health and safety procedures and so may not be able to respond positively to the questions about health and safety processes. In these cases you could ask the employer to complete the HSE's Health and Safety Policy Template. See: Small Employer Health and Safety Requirements (.pdf).

Non-UK placements - assessing the suitability of the host employer or place of study / research

Non-UK employer or non–university host

For students undertaking study, research, or placement at a non-university host abroad the Work-Based Learning Manager / Officer must check that the placement provider has suitable arrangements for health and safety and appropriate insurance. This can be done by questioning or using the employer health and safety checklist: non-UK placements form. The placement provider check must be completed before the student is accepted by the host, to avoid the student having to decline an offer on the grounds of the host's inability to comply with the health and safety requirements.

Guidance on Assessing the Placement Provider(.docx) gives information on what action is needed if the employee has answered negatively to any of the questions. The action needed will depend on the risks associated with the work placement and so the risk profiling and actions table (.pdf) should be used to determine appropriate action. If you need to take further action (eg if you need to ask the host employer for further information), record what you have done in the 'For University Use' box at the end of the employer health and safety checklist.

Partner university host

For students undertaking study, research, or a placement at a partner university the Essex Abroad office are responsible for ensuring that the partner university has adequate arrangements for student health and safety.

Non-UK placements - addressing travel risks

The University’s health and safety standard on overseas travelstandard on overseas travelstandard on overseas travel applies to students. For any overseas (non-UK) travel students should be encouraged to research the country they are visiting. Health and safety concerns associated with overseas travel need to be considered as part of the student placement risk assessment record.

High-risk travel

Information and requirements are set out on our Overseas Travel page under High risk travel.

High risk travel requires a more detailed risk assessment and formal approval by:

  • The head of the relevant academic department for travel that is part of a student’s course of study (i.e. curricular)
  • The Academic Registrar for co-curricular travel that is arranged by the Academic Section.

In addition the relevant Executive Dean or the Registrar and Secretary will approve visits where the Crisis24Horizon risk rating is equal to or greater than 4.50.

For students, the following procedure ensures this process is carried out where necessary:

  1. Placement students are to complete the MoveON form so Essex Abroad can monitor and support with Insurance application where required. They should be directed to complete the Travel Insurance Application Form, giving the authorising email address as:
  2. If a student identifies that they would like to travel to a location that could be deemed high risk, they need to confirm with their department whether there are scores of 3 or over for the location required by checking Crisis24Horizon. It is strongly recommended that an informal discussion about whether the placement is likely to be appropriate takes place at this stage, before finalising the placement during the risk assessment conducted with the placements team.
  3. If it is decided that the placement is feasible, the student should be informed that a high-risk risk assessment will be carried out with the placements team.
  4. If the student will be undertaking adventurous activities as part of their overseas placement, a suitable risk assessment (employer risk assessment) should be provided by the placement provider as part of the placement vetting process. It must be attached along with the completed general risk assessment to the Placements risk assessment that was sent via DocuSign.
  5. Please refer to the High risk travel for all requirements if the student is travelling to an area with a risk rating of 3 or above. The Insurance Officer will inform them of risk assessment(s) to be completed and whether they will need to undertake the overseas travel training - advising which of the modules they must complete..
  6. The student will receive the high risk student placement risk assessment form via DocuSign from the Placements team. As part of this the student can attach the ERA and GRA.
  7. Placements Team will conduct a final meeting with the student to approve the trip.
  8. Student will receive a copy of the risk assessment once approved by the Head of Department.
  9. Once the trip is approved and the insurance team have received the appropriate risk assessment, they will release the travel insurance to the student.
  10. To ensure Essex Abroad are aware of risk assessment process, Placements are to update Essex Abroad, so MoveON can be updated and students not chased unnecessarily.

Record keeping

All health and safety assessment forms should be kept together in a file relating to the placement for at least a year after the placement finishes. If the placement provider is likely to be used again, or there were problems with the placement the records should be kept longer to inform future placement decisions.

COVID-19 overseas travel      

The University has updated its travel process to include a Central COVID Risk Assessment for Overseas Travel (Student) (.pdf). This does not need to be filled in. 

The traveller will be expected to refer to this risk assessment when planning their trip and will be required to check the COVID-19 restrictions of the country they are visiting. The general control measures in this risk assessment will be relevant for the majority of overseas trips, therefore there will no longer be a requirement for a separate COVID-19 risk assessment for every trip.

Where there is an additional COVID-19 risk identified which is over and above that detailed in the central COVID-19 risk assessment (for example if the type of activity increases the risk of transmission, or if the Crisis24Horizon medical category risk rating is higher than 3 due to COVID-19) then the traveller will need to address this in the relevant risk assessment form, in line with pre-pandemic overseas travel processes. There is no need to duplicate the information already contained in the central COVID-19 travel risk assessment. Only additional COVID-19 risks need to be considered on the risk assessment completed for overseas travel.

Help and advice

If you have any queries, feedback, or need help and advice on assessing the health and safety suitability of placements please contact the Workplace Health, Safety and Wellbeing team (WHSW).

Get in touch
Workplace Health, Safety and Wellbeing Health and safety queries
Telephone: 01206 872944
Student Occupational Health queries
Telephone: 01206 872399