HSE issues asbestos warning to users of Bunsen burner wire gauzes

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been made aware that two UK laboratory supply companies have supplied schools and potentially other users with gauze mats which contain asbestos.

The metal gauze mats are designed for use over Bunsen burners.

While we assess the overall risk of exposure to be low, we have taken swift action. We have ensured that both of the supply companies concerned immediately ceased supply of the gauze mats and are overseeing arrangements to contact affected customers and provide precautionary advice on how the mats should be disposed of safely.

Any gauzes that contain asbestos should not be used, and they must be safely disposed of as asbestos waste. As a precaution, if users are unclear as to what any gauze coating is made of then it should be assumed to contain asbestos. Additional advice has been prepared to inform users as to the action they need to take (attached).

HSE are working closely with Department for Education, education departments in Scotland and Wales as well as CLEAPSS (Consortium of Local Education Authorities for the Provision of Science Services). This will help us ensure that schools, colleges, local regulators, and others who may have supplied or purchased similar products are directed to our advice. We are also investigating how these particular gauze mats came into circulation. Breaches of the restrictions on the supply of asbestos are taken very seriously by HSE.

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Health and Safety Provision in HEIs – A survey by University of West of England (Bristol)

A benchmark survey was undertaken of 21, Alliance and other Universities in the UK.

The survey of 15 questions was designed in-house by the Head of Health and Safety at UWE Bristol and submitted via email to identified participants.

The survey ran for a period of 7 weeks, closing on 24th January 2018. A total of 12 were returned, a response rate of 57%.

All reported that organisational arrangements ensure they have a strategic view of Health and Safety across the University, get involved with diverse work and risk areas. There was report of staff respect where the Health and Safety Team is seen to be coming from a recognised unit that has the support of the University’s Executive Team and Council.

The University profile, Health & Safety team location, reporting structures, team provision and typical roles was covered in the survey.

View survey results (PDF)

Green Gown Awards International

The winners of the International Green Gown Awards have been presented at an Awards Ceremony in Marseille, France.

It was part of a unique global gathering ‘Global Responsibility, Now’ – in partnership with Global Responsible Leadership Initiative, UN Principles for Responsible Management Education, the Global Alliance of Sustainability Networks and Kedge Business School.Established as the most prestigious recognition of sustainability best practice within the education sector globally, the International Green Gown Awards provide benchmarks for excellence and are aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and supported by the UN, national governments and education bodies.

Here are details of the winners. 


Britain’s Healthiest Workplace – take part in the survey

The key advantage to conducting the survey is to create an understanding of wellbeing based on direct responses from your University staff.

Areas affecting them for example: financial wellbeing, mental health, nutrition, workplace stressors, engagement etc. and also to see whether the interventions currently in place are reaching out to staff effectively.

Here is a short presentation about ‘ Britain’s Healthiest Workplace’ and here is a link to the website which provides a full overview.

The survey runs till the end of July.  It is completely free and voluntary. It is commissioned by Vitality but not part of their medical insurance package – you do not get involved in any marketing or approaches. RAND Europe administers the survey – who are a not for profit research institute.

If you are interested but not sure if you can fit into this window period they will be running a further survey period later in the year. However running it later in the year may mean you are not be eligible for the Awards.

Also here is a copy of an anonymous organisational report to show this more clearly.

Staff also receive their own individual report instantly clearly showing areas of their health and lifestyles that they may wish to consider more.

In this sense the Vitality Age they receive becomes a health intervention in itself, often prompting staff to discuss with their colleagues informally and to take individual or collective action.

Please see the full details and registration to take part here

International Standardisation ISO 45001

The new International Standard on occupation health and safety management has been written.

The ISO 45001 now replaces OHSAS 18001.

David Smith is the Chair of the International Standards Organisation (ISO)

How to stay safe in halls of residence

Serious safety incidents can happen and Universities manage these incidents. During such events students must follow all instructions given by the emergency services and University staff.

If you have impaired mobility you are advised to inform the University so they can assist you during an emergency.

When you move in to your room, please read the important safety instructions on the back of your door.

If you are arriving from overseas, you will be used to living by different rules and laws. English laws apply.

Number 1: smoking is not allowed indoors. Anywhere. Ever. It is the law. Even if something is labelled fire resistant or retardant it can still catch fire.

This film from USHA member London School of Economics is just one example used to help students stay safe.


USHA 2016/7 Annual Report – some significant firsts

The report highlights USHAs growing role and influence in the sector.

  • Its work with partner groups looking at mental health, security, employers and unions at a national level.
  • The latest developments in the associations Strategic 20/20 vision
  • A ground breaking conference on mental wellbeing
  • The changing landscape of health and safety
  • A mentoring and coaching scheme
  • Opportunities to share lessons learned

Read more here

ISTR guidance "Safe working with arthropods" 2017

'Safe working with arthropods: Containment and control for work with uninfected, infected and transgenic animals in research', covers research work with exotic and UK native species of arthropods (mosquitoes, biting midges and ticks) and GM insects that are vectors of virus diseases affecting animals (such as bluetongue virus or African horse sickness virus), and humans (such as Zika virus or dengue fever virus).

It has been produced by ISTR, in consultation with HSE and the Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens (ACDP) with input from the UK biosafety community and scientists who work with arthropods and GM insects. It also delivers key elements of the HSE’s `Helping GB work well’ strategy for 'Managing risk well' and 'Keeping pace with change'.

Guidance Document


USHA Estates Seminar July 2017: Statutory Compliance



USHA held its annual Estates Seminar 2017 at the University of Liverpool (London Campus)

 The 2017 seminar theme was ‘Statutory Compliance’ and aimed to raise awareness on keys areas of statutory compliance providing practical solutions and ideas to those managing complex estates with a myriad of statutory compliance obligations. 

The event was sponsored by Zurich Insurance Group Ltd which provides insurance cover and support in the management of statutory inspection obligations

Here are the conference presentations and photographs:

Estates Seminar 2017 Photos (Dropbox)

Estates Seminar 2017 Presentations (Dropbox)



Higher education sector injury, occupational disease and dangerous occurrence data report





This report takes data compiled by the Universities Safety and Health Association (USHA) from the 1st January 2010 through to 31st July 2016.

Up to 31st December 2014 the association compiled data on a calendar year basis.

Reporting data on an academic year basis commenced for 2013/2014 as part of a move to collection through the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

The short continuation of calendar year data was to assist the association’s members with internal governance annual reporting during the transition.

In July 2016 USHA’s Executive Board agreed to reinstate collection of data by the association.


Download the report here