People especially at risk

It's important that health and safety is used as a reason to ensure safety for all, rather than an excuse to stop certain groups of people from participating. Our health and safety arrangements should take account of staff, students and visitors who may be at greater risk of harm from our activities.

To make sure they are safe it may mean that extra precautions are needed to protect them. Some general guidance is given below for known groups at increased risk. Please contact HSAS if you wish to discuss any specific concerns.

Students and inexperienced workers

Excellence in education

"Our is aim is to offer our students a transformational educational experience, encompassing both the academic and the extra-curricular, which provides them with the opportunity to fulfil their potential as individuals by developing themselves within our living and learning community as independent learners equipped to take responsibility for their personal and professional development throughout their lives." (Strategic Plan 2015-19)

We are preparing students for the world of work, so we have a responsibility to lead by example in meeting our health and safety responsibilities to students who are studying or working for us. Communicating the importance of health and safety and involving them in the management of risk will not only protect our students, but help them to develop relevant skills and capabilities.

Accident statistics show that new staff are more likely to have an accident in their first months of employment than during the rest of their working lives. Students and new staff may be more at risk of harm because they:

  • are unfamiliar with the job or workplace and so may not recognise hazards as potential sources of danger, for example, hazards to their long-term health
  • may not understand why certain rules are in place, such as wearing personal protective equipment
  • may feel reluctant to raise concerns or not know how to
  • may be eager to please or to impress their fellow students/work colleagues and their managers/supervisors

Younger students and workers may also lack the physical, psychological or emotional capability or maturity to cope with certain work demands.

It is important that new students and staff are given health and safety induction and any additional training and supervision needed to protect them. It is also important you and your team set a good example by working safely and reporting health and safety concerns.

Frontrunners and internships

Frontrunners and internship staff at the University should be given the same health and safety induction as any other member of staff.

Student work and study placements

We have a duty of care to all our students when travelling, studying, researching and working 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.

Placement organisers need to take account of various risk factors, including those associated with the work, study, research, location and individual students. If you are involved with arranging student placements please refer to our student placements health and safety standardstudent placements health and safety standardstudent placements health and safety standard for further information.

Young people (under 18)

The law defines young people as those who have not yet attained the age of 18. They can be at greater risk because they:

  • lack familiarity or experience of the job or workplace and so may not recognise hazards as potential sources of danger
  • may be reluctant to raise concerns or not know how to
  • may be eager to please or to impress team colleagues and their managers/academic supervisors
  • lack the physical, psychological or emotional capability or maturity to cope with the work demands

The law specifically requires that when young people are employed, risk assessments must take account of their lack of experience and maturity, their physical and psychological capability; and potentially increased risk from exposure to some physical and chemical agents. The same standard of health and safety would be expected for students under 18 who are taking part in study, activities or events organised by the University, under the general duties of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

If you are responsible for supervising a young person, you will need to ensure your risk assessment takes account of the above factors. You may need to:

  • provide additional training and supervision
  • adapt physically or psychologically demanding work to their capabilities
  • take additional action to protect them from physical and chemical agents that could have long-term health effects on a still-developing young body

It is important that young people are given the opportunity to develop new skills. In many cases all that may be needed is closer supervision by a competent member of staff. However children (under 16s) must not be exposed to certain work hazards (see below).

In addition, please refer to the University's Policy on Safeguarding Children and Adults at Risk and associated guidance for children and students who are under 18.


If you invite visitors to the University you are responsible for their safety whilst on campus. If you are not be supervising them directly you need to make them aware of the University's emergency emergency emergency and fire arrangementsfire arrangementsfire arrangements.

If your visitor may have difficulty evacuating (eg because they have a disability) you will need to follow the advice in our fire safety briefing (.pdf). If you are organising eventsorganising eventsorganising events, your risk assessment needs to take account of visitors who may be unfamiliar with the site.

Children (under 16)

It is important that risk assessments for any activities involving young children take account of the risks relating to the activity and the campus environment. Areas such as open water, under podia, vehicle movement, construction and maintenance work or aspects of building design may present significant risks to young children. Children may not recognise these hazards and, in some cases, may behave in ways that put them at greater risk.

It is important that young children are supervised by a responsible adult at all times. This could be a parent or teacher. The University's Regulations on General Conduct (.pdf), includes the following specific requirements with regards to young people on campus (general regulation 7.14).

For reasons of safety, when children under the age of 12 need to be brought into University buildings, it is required that the children must be closely supervised at all times. The University will require any children who are not so supervised to be removed from the building. Under no circumstances will children under the age of 12 be permitted in workshops and science department laboratories

The University’s buildings comply with building requirements for a building which is normally used by adults and children of more than 12 years of age. This is acceptable provided use by young children is limited and they are closely supervised at all times. However, if there are plans to provide areas for children under 12, advice must be sought on whether adaptations are required to meet additional requirements for buildings regularly used by children under 12. Please contact HSAS for advice.

Work experience for under 16s

There are additional legal requirements for under 16s who are on work experience. They must not carry out work that involves harmful exposure to substances, radiation, cold, heat, noise or vibration or carry out activities that are beyond their physical or psychological capabilities. Their parents or guardians must also be informed of potential risks and the measures in place to protect their child from harm.

We have specific procedures for ensuring their safety including an induction and risk assessment process. For information relating to work experience placements for under 16s, please contact Jo Hopkins, Organisational Development:, ext 2458.

Pregnant and new mothers

Certain work and study activities may put pregnant staff and students or their unborn child at greater risk of harm.

The law requires that employers identify hazards in the workplace that could pose a health and safety risk to new or expectant mothers and inform women employees of childbearing age. Once a member of staff notifies her manager that she is pregnant suitable controls measures must be put into place to protect her and her unborn child. Pregnant women and nursing mothers should also be provided with facilities to rest.

Please refer to the health and safety standard on pregnancy for advice on what to do to protect pregnant staff and their unborn child. There is also advice for students who are pregnant.

Menopausal women

The menopause typically happens in women between age 45 and 55 and menopausal symptoms are typically experienced for several years. Symptoms can include sleep disturbance, hot flushes,  muscular, bone or joint pain or psychological issues. These can affect health and safety and work performance. The CIPD guidance on The Menopause at Work (.pdf) provides guidance on managing staff who may be experiencing menopausal symptoms.

People with disabilities and medical conditions

If a member of staff or student has a disability or health condition that affects their ability to carry out their work or studies safely, it will be necessary for you to review their work/study activities with them and make reasonable adjustments.

Account should be taken of the specific nature of the member of staff's disability or health condition. There may be occasions where someone is unable to carry out certain work tasks due to risks to themselves or others, but these will be rare. A blanket ban on certain types of work for people with certain illnesses could be considered discrimination.

You should pay particular attention to staff who may be at increased risk due to existing health conditions. For example, asthma, breathing difficulties, hearing damage or hearing loss and dermatitis. For electromagnetic fields staff at increased risk are those with active and passive medical devices.

If you have concerns about the effects of a disability or health condition on a member of staff's work you can contact the Occupational Health ServiceOccupational Health ServiceOccupational Health Service for advice. The Occupational Health Service can also provide advice for Health and Social Care students and students working at Wivenhoe House Hotel. For other students, advice should be sought from the Disability Service in the Student Services Hub or HSAS.

Older people

Factors such as increased life expectancy, removal of the default retirement age and raising of the State Pension Age, means that many people will need, and want to continue working, leading to an increase in the proportion of older people in the workplace.

Some work is physically demanding and requires a reasonable level of fitness to be performed safely (eg significant manual handling). This has led to some employers expressing concern about the suitability of older workers to perform such work. However, research has shown that physical fitness varies greatly across individuals of all ages and that age-related decline in physical capacity does not normally adversely affect job performance.

Whilst cognitive performance can reduce in workers over 70, this is generally compensated for by better experience, judgement and job knowledge. Older workers bring a broad range of skills and experience to the workplace, so it makes sense to look after their health and safety.

  • Risk assessments should be reviewed if there is evidence that employees are finding the work difficult to do the work safely.
  • If a specific individual has health concerns that are affecting their work performance it may be necessary to refer them to occupational health for advice. However this should be based on evidence of capability, not age.

Age is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010:

Other groups that may be at risk

It is important to take account of other diversity issues when assessing and managing risk, however health and safety should not be used as a reason for discrimination on the grounds of factors such as race, gender, religion or belief. Examples of areas which may need to be considered as part of your risk assessment are:

  • language and gestures
  • dress
  • cultural differences
  • differences in physical capability
  • reproductive health risks
  • suitability and size of personal protective equipment

Further information

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Contact us
Health and Safety Room 4S.6.2
Telephone: 01206 872944
Fire safety
Telephone: 01206 874847