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.

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 students health and safety
  • 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 (.pdf) 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 (.dotx). 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, or you can use the Student Placement Risk Assessment Record (.dotx).

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, so as 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 (.pdf) 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 (.docx).

Travel Insurance 

All students travelling overseas for placements will need to complete the Travel Insurance Application Form to obtain details of their insurance cover. Work-Based Learning Managers / Officers must check that students have complied with this requirement. 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.

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

High-risk travel

High risk travel is defined as:

  • Travel to countries or locations with an overall risk score of 3.5 or greater in the location specific travel advice provided by Drum Cussacs Risk Monitor for travellers. Access to the travel advice can be obtained by completing the UMAL Drum Cussac Online Risk Monitor registration (.pdf).
  • Travel to countries with an overall lower risk score, but where either a location in that country, and/or a listed risk area for that country may have a listed score of 3.5 or greater.
  • Overseas travel that includes partaking in adventurous activities (e.g. diving, water / air-based sports, trekking in remote areas, caving).

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 Drum Cussac 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.
  2. If a student identifies that they would like to travel to a location that could be deemed high risk, the work-based learning manager / officer or Essex Abroad should check the Drum Cussac Risk Monitor to confirm whether there are risk scores of 3.5 or over for the location required. The relevant Head of Department should also be notified. It is strongly recommended that an informal discussion about whether the placement is likely to be appropriate takes place at this stage.
  3. If it is decided that the placement is feasible, the student should be informed that a risk assessment will be necessary. They should be directed to complete the Travel Insurance Application Form, giving the authorising email address as:
  4. The Insurance Officer will inform the student that they need to complete the risk assessment for students working or studying overseas form and submit it to the Placements Team or Essex Abroad (as appropriate). The Insurance Officer will also inform Essex Abroad.
  5. If the student will be undertaking adventurous activities as part of their overseas placement, a suitable risk assessment should be provided by the placement provider as part of the placement vetting process. It must be submitted with the completed Risk Assessment for Students Working or Studying Overseas form (.docx). 
  6. If the student is travelling to an area with a risk rating of 4 or above, the Insurance Officer will inform them that they will be required to complete the overseas travel security training and which modules to complete. They will need to include the certificate(s) of training when they submit their risk assessment(s).
  7. The student will need to send the risk assessments(s) adventurous activities risk assessment (where relevant) and training certificate(s) (where relevant) to the Placements Team or Essex Abroad (as appropriate).
  8. Placements Team or Essex Abroad (as appropriate) will arrange for the appropriate authorising manager to approve the trip by signing the completed Risk Assessment for Students Working or Studying Overseas form (.docx).
  9. Placements Team or Essex Abroad (as appropriate) will inform the student of the outcome.
  10. If the trip is approved, the Placements Team or Essex Abroad (as appropriate) will forward the Risk Assessment for Students Working or Studying Overseas form (.docx), adventurous activities risk assessment (where relevant) and training certificate(s) (where relevant) to the Insurance Officer.
  11. The Insurance Officer will issue the student with their travel insurance details.
  12. 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.

Student placement risk assessment record (all placements)

The student placement risk assessment record (.dotx) 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 (.dotx) or non-UK placements (.dotx)) and any other information you have about other risk factors (eg individual student factors such as disability, location/travel).

You will need to complete the student placement risk assessment record 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.

Accommodation

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

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.

Help and advice

If you have any queries or feedback on the above procedures, or need help and advice on assessing the health and safety suitability of placements please contact the Health and Safety Advisory Service.

Contact us
Contact us
Health and Safety Advisory Service
Telephone: 01206 872944