The University of Leeds launched a revitalisation programme in partnership with campus trade unions to bring about significant and lasting improvements to health and safety performance.
Around one in ten university staff reported an accident at work, and the university had also received two improvement notices from HSE in the last three years. Managers and staff recognised that there was room for improvement.
With jobs ranging from laboratory experiments to office administration, and from field work in the Arctic to serving lunch in the canteen, the university's 8000 staff have a very diverse range of health and safety issues and are spread across 98 acres of campus. The key challenge was raising awareness of health and safety issues and getting everyone involved.
The university launched a revitalisation programme with the three campus trade unions where both unions and management are equal partners in achieving health and safety standards and resolving issues. A declaration that health and safety is one of the university's top priorities is at the heart of the partnership.
“The revitalising agreement has been crucial to the success of this work - it has enabled us to develop a strong partnership and work together for change.”
“It was essential to make sure that everyone understood their own health and safety responsibilities and knew what could happen if these weren't taken seriously. This required a change in both attitudes and behaviour.”
A DVD was made using contributions from staff across the university. It highlighted what can happen if health and safety is not taken seriously, and also gave examples of best practice. Every member of staff watched the film, was then encouraged to talk about local issues and priorities, and received information on individual health and safety responsibilities.
“˜ . . . the DVD and briefings created an opportunity for dialogue by using real case studies from our campus and giving people the chance to ask questions and discuss local issues.”
Creating change is a long-term project that will require ongoing commitment. This is the first time the university has done something on this scale and profile with health and safety so it is important to evaluate and reconsider aspects of the plan along the way. We will continue to adapt to the needs of our staff and ensure maximum engagement.