Health and Safety Liaison Officers & Departmental Health and Safety Officers

Getting started

Welcome to the network! You play an important part in helping the University stay safe. Based where you work, your day-to-day involvement makes a big difference to staff and student safety.

The Health and Safety Advisory Service is here to support you and answer any questions you may have. Below you'll find advice and guidance on the role, as well as what’s expected throughout the year.


We provide training for HSLOs and DHSOs. The training gives you an overview of our health and safety management system and key skills:

  • Managing Health and Safety Essentials is aimed at managers. It’s recommended for all HSLOs and DHSOs to get an overview of health and safety management
  • IOSH Managing Safety: for DHSOs responsible for work activities with high or complex health and safety risks. It is also available for HSLOs in lower risk areas who wish to gain a deeper understanding
  • we also recommend that new HSLOs and DHSOs arrange an induction briefing with their lead Health and Safety Adviser. Contact HSAS to arrange this. This gives you an opportunity to meet your adviser and discuss any local concerns you may have

A good starting point is the Health and Safety Policy which sets out roles and responsibilities for health and safety, including the HSLO role. To support the policy is the Managing Health and Safety Code of Practice (.pdf). The Code of Practice says what needs to be done to meet the policy and what you need to do to meet your responsibilities.

What you need to do and when

Your Head of Department, Section or Business has overall responsibility and are accountable for health and safety in your area. One of their responsibilities is to appoint a HSLO or DHSO to assist them. That means you are responsible for supporting the Head of Department, but accountability still rests with them. Your role is to support and assist them with coordinating, communicating and monitoring the department’s arrangements for health and safety.

The annual health and safety cycle

The health and safety cycle sits in the academic year (01 August to 31 July). There are important events and actions that need to happen and the Health and Safety Toolkit for Heads of Department / Section (.doc) provides a month by month guide to key activities and leadership actions.

To complement the Head of Department Toolkit there is a Health and Safety Toolkit for DHSOs and HSLOs (.doc). It is a 12-month cycle and month one starts with preparing for the annual health and safety inspection, followed by the rest of the year’s activities. Your toolkit is arranged like this because everyone has their annual inspection at different times in the year. Also, your responsibilities may vary depending on your department’s needs and the toolkit can be modified to reflect your local arrangements. Additional support is available from WHSW if you wish to discuss your local calendar.


Your responsibilities may vary depending on your department's needs and structure, WHSW are always available to help should you have any need. Generally, the duties of an HSLO/DHSO include:

Review health and safety roles and management statement (month 1)

Carrying out the annual health and safety inspection and submitting a completed action plan is a University requirement.

To get the most out of your inspection we recommend you help your manager get ‘inspection ready’ in month 1. This is your teams opportunity to review your current departmental management statement departmental management statement departmental management statement and to ensure your colleagues that have specific duties are trained and competent.

Once your departmental management statement has been reviewed we recommend you download the relevant inspection checklist and work with your manager to gather together the necessary documentation for your inspection.

You will also be required to set a date for your inspection including inviting any third party (such as Trade Union representatives) in good time.

Annual health and safety inspection (months 2 and 3)

In month 2 you carry out the inspection. As an HSLO you may either arrange, coordinate or carry out the inspection on your Head of Department’s behalf.  The following guidance is for those tasked with carrying out the inspection:

Find out about health and safety inspection and download the relevant inspection checklist. The section called “Health and Safety Paperwork and Management System Inspection” will tell you what you should have in your inspection file.

If you have a number of low-risk areas that are very similar, for example, offices, you can select a sample to inspect. It’s recommended that roughly a third is inspected and every location is inspected once every three years. Higher risk areas must be inspected annually. This would include storerooms, archives, workshops, laboratories, communal areas and reception areas. If you want guidance on your inspection schedule, speak to your lead Health and Safety Adviser.

Make sure you know how to get to all the areas you need to inspect and include any new areas. Let the inspection party know if there are any additional health and safety requirements, for example, the need to wear protective footwear or requirements for permit to access. Don’t forget the keys or door codes to get into these areas.

In month 3 the inspection action plan must be completed, signed and dated by the Head of Department. Inspection findings that require action need to be assigned low, medium or high priority. Copies of the completed plan must be sent to WHSW, the Union appointed safety representative that attended the inspection and Faculty Manager, Assistant Registrar or Director of UECS Operations , depending on which part of the University you work in.

Inspection plan review and updates (months 5, 8 and 12)

The action plan should be regularly reviewed throughout the year to make sure inspection findings are actioned in a timely manner. The Head of Department is responsible for ensuring this happens regularly and will need to complete a health and safety monitoring form to report progress to the Faculty Manager or, for Professional Services Sections, the Assistant Registrar in June and December. This is also an opportunity for you to raise new health and safety issues, discuss progress on other areas of health and safety and and new operational health and safety risks.

High priority actions need to be addressed within three months of the inspection, medium priority within six months and low priority within 9 months. The aim being when inspection comes around, all actions have been closed from the previous inspection and evidenced on the updated action plan.

Portable appliance testing (PAT) (month 6)

It is the usually the HSLO or DHSO who is responsible for coordinating the portable appliance testing (PAT)portable appliance testing (PAT)portable appliance testing (PAT) arrangements on the behalf of the Head of Department. You need to follow the arrangements for your campus. 

You’ll need to make sure all appliances, including seasonal appliances (e.g. Christmas tree lights) are available for the tester and provide access for them. A record of the testing outcomes should be made available to you to action soon after testing. Check it through and remove the failed items as quickly as possible and dispose of items through the correct electrical equipment waste stream. Contact the EMS HelpdeskEMS HelpdeskEMS Helpdeskto dispose of your waste electrical items. Make a file note for disposed items and update the appliance inventory. Other actions such as plugging certain electrical items into a wall socket and eliminating extension leads plugged into other extension leads will need to be addressed promptly.

Work equipment (stepladders, kick stools, trolleys etc) (month 7)

Certain work equipment requires annual inspections and checks. The common equipment is stepladders, kick stools and trolleys. You can find inspection guidance, equipment inventories and inspection record templates via working at heightworking at heightworking at height and lifting and carrying at worklifting and carrying at worklifting and carrying at work information. You may work in areas where there is additional work equipment that needs its own schedule of regular testing, inspection and record keepingschedule of regular testing, inspection and record keepingschedule of regular testing, inspection and record keeping. If this the case, speak to your Health and Safety lead adviser to identify what needs and testing and inspecting, as well as what records are needed.

Training (month 9)

Health and safety training includes mandatory (essential) training and induction. You are responsible for keeping the departmental records of staff induction up to date. This includes keeping copies of the signed and dated induction checklists

You will also be assisting your Head of Department with monitoring staff completion of essential training. Central records are kept on HR Organiser and can be viewed by employees and their manager, regular compliance reports will be provided to your Head of Department. You should be familiar with the process by which the department ensures training records are kept on HR Organiser and inputted onto the system.

Display screen equipment (month 10)

Checking there are an adequate number of trained DSE Facilitators in the department and they can provide recent examples of completed and signed DSE self-assessments as evidence for the annual health and safety inspection. Further information about the DSE Facilitator role can be found:

Each year WHSW send a reminder to all staff to review their current DSE self-assessment form. The reminder is usually sent during spring term. Many departments conduct a review of the DSE self-assessments for their department following the annual reminder.

DSE self-assessment forms should be completed (or reviewed if a form already exists for a staff member) if the following applies:

  • you have not reviewed your DSE self-assessment within the past 12 months
  • you have not completed a DSE self-assessment before
  • there have been significant changes to your work or workstation since the last time you completed an assessment
  • you are experiencing aches and pains that may be related to DSE work

Risk assessment administration (month 11)

In this month you will review your departmental risk assessments to make sure they are still current and correct. Most areas use the generic templates risk assessments. You can download the most up to date versions from our website.

You’ll need to check through the risk assessment and ensure the control measures in place are actually carried out in your workplace. If there are different control measures the risk might change and you’ll need to reflect that in your risk assessment.

Managers, supervisors, principal investigators and researchers are responsible for ensuring the risk assessments associated with their work are review regularly.  If this applies to your area you may want to discuss with your Head of Department how they wish to monitor this. You will need to provide examples of risk assessments for overseas travel, field trips and events for the inspection, so make sure you have them ready.

Communicating health and safety

The HSLO and DHSO is crucial for communicating health and safety information into and out of the department. You are the point of contact on health and safety in the department and signposting staff to where they can get further help on health and safety. You can help the Head of Department to cascade health and safety information including communicating Health and Safety bulletins, to those that need to know (and checking that necessary action has been taken), keeping the Health and Safety Notice Board up to date and including health and safety on key departmental meetings.

Keeping records

You will be responsible for maintaining health and safety records for your office or department. Electronic records can be kept in place of hardcopy documentation. Some forms require a managers signature, this must be obtained then the document can be scanned and the original securely destroyed. Specific documents are required under law to be kept for a certain length of time, please refer to the  Health and Safety Advisory Service retention schedule for further details. Any old records must be disposed of confidentially.

Departmental Health and Safety Liaison Officer additional duties

DHSOs have experience and knowledge of risks associated with the department’s activities. If you are a DHSO your role may also include:

  • helping with development and review of departmental health and safety standards and risk assessments
  • keeping up to date with health and safety requirements and best practice relating to health and safety risks in the department, and
  • providing advice on areas that are within your competence.

If you would like assistance or support please contact your lead Health and Safety Adviser.

ISO 45001:2018 International Standard for Occupational Health and Safety

The University is working to align it's health and safety management systems with the ISO 45001 standard that was published in March 2018. The ISO 45001 has been designed to integrate with existing ISO management systems standards including ISO9001 (quality management) and ISO14001 (environmental management) and will also eventually replace OHSAS18001.

Your role will involve aspects of ISO 45001 as they are deployed across the University, the clauses listed below provide an initial overview of the type of documents and processes that your role as HSLO or DHSO may include:

ISO 45001:2018 Clause or section University guidance for HSLOs and DHSOs
4.3. Scope and overview of OH&SMS Health and Safety Code of Practice(s)Health and Safety Code of Practice(s)Health and Safety Code of Practice(s)
5.2. OH&S Policy University Health and Safety PolicyUniversity Health and Safety PolicyUniversity Health and Safety Policy
5.3. Roles and responsibilities Job roles and responsibilities
6.1.1 Processes to address risks and opportunities
Risk assessment procedures
6.1.2. Criteria for the assessment of OH&S risks Risk assessment procedures
7.2. Records of training Staff and student training

Induction information

Contractor competence
7.4. Communication Health and Safety bulletins.

Local and departmental meeting agendas and emails can be recorded as evidence of health and safety communication
8.1.1. Operational controls

Risk assessments including:

General Office and laboratory
Display screen assessment
Pregnancy (staff) Pregnancy (students)
Field workField workField work
Overseas travelOverseas travelOverseas travel

Documentation for:

Departmental Management Statements
Equipment inventories
Health surveillance
PAT testing inventory

8.6. Emergency preparedness and response Awareness of how to obtain first aid and emergency assistance

Sufficient number of Evacuation Stewards
9.1. Monitoring and measuring results and calibration of monitoring and measuring equipment
Annual health and safety inspections

Work equipment safety
10.1. Incidents and non-conformities and results of corrective actions
Reporting of near-miss incidents and accidents
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Contact us
Workplace Health, Safety and Wellbeing
Telephone: 01206 872944