Biochemical Safety/Security Report

The first meeting in May investigated laboratory safety and security, forward-looking security concerns related to advances in science and technology, as well as opportunities to improve security through scientific and social research. 

It was attended by a wide range of stakeholders including scientists, industry representatives, research institution representatives as well as regulators.

Executive Board Member Cathy Day attended in her role as Head of University Health, Safety & Environment at Bath whilst Clive Parkinson attended as the former Chair of USHA.

The meeting was called primarily to address Home Office concerns over chemical and biological weapons security aligned to the national anti-terrorist strategy. Due to the increasing involvement of scientific institutions, innovative ideas were discussed with the aim of ensuring that researchers consider the misuse potential of their research; how findings are disseminated; and how this contributes to local, regional and national policy development.

News from USHA Project Group ‘Student Guidance Placement’

The aim of the group will be to amend the Guidance or provide additional material to address the specific areas identified in the survey. These include international and short-term placements, insurance issues and a request for additional templates & case studies.

The group will be chaired by Karen Lawrence (Coventry). The group members are Alice Smith (Nottingham Trent), Claire Saunders (Essex), Peter Roddis (Sheffield Hallam) and Sarah Watson (Nottingham). The first meeting will be in November 2014.

Karen can be contacted on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Being a new Executive Board Member of USHA - reflections from Vincent King of Brunel University London

“The business content is fluid and is rapidly changing on an operational level from; discussing accounts; supporting and advising on members conferences and events; interpreting the fine detail of our terms of reference; monitoring specialist and projects groups and establishing who is doing what and how are they performing.

As well as this we are continuing to develop our Strategy to maintain our standing in the safety field with fellow Associations, which all creates demands on our time which we have to balance with our primary job role.

This is just a flavour of an Executive role which is a truly diverse job but the rewards far outweigh the challenges and I look forward to serving you well in my tenure”.

Vincent King is Head of Health, Safety and Environment at Brunel University London. He joined the USHA Executive Board in April 2014. His portfolio includes guiding the Fire Specialist Group and Animal Allergies Project Group, as well as working on USHA’s strategic plan for closer working with students. He also represents the Board at national meetings with other sector Associations

Ins and Outs - Oct 2014

We welcome the following new appointments:

Heads/Directors  of Health and Safety:

  • Goldsmith College University of London, Philip Potter
  • University of Roehampton, Paul MacCourt
  • Aston University, Sue Braithwaite
  • University of Leeds, Paul Veevers
  • Imperial College London, Dr Surrinder Johal
  • Middlesex University, Trevor Alexander
  • Bath University, Neil Hawthorne ( Science areas)
  • Open University, Carina Kennedy                                    
  • University of Chester, Rachel Jones

We say ‘goodbye’ to:

  • Bronwen Bernard, Head of Health and Safety at Goldsmiths College, University of London who has retired. She was a stalwart and valued supporter of USHA for the last 20 years.
  • Bambos Kakouratos Health and Safety Manager at Middlesex who has taken early retirement.
  • Maureen Blackman ,Deputy Health and Safety Advisor at University of Greenwich who has retired
  • Allan Watson at Durham.

A delegate’s perspective on the Autumn Seminar from Eleanor Pirie University of the Arts London

The exhibitors were well chosen too; yes HSS I will almost certainly be taking you up on the offer of discounted places in your public course, thank you. Not to mention the range of software available to help support our efforts to get people to report accidents and complete their workstation assessment, risk assessments, COSHH assessments, fire assessment etc. And the quizzing software that would be familiar to anyone who went to the Fire conference.

The only grumble I have is that my ‘to do’ list is now even longer as it now includes complete a training and competence needs analysis, rework manual handling training to encourage staff to push each other over and wave their arms around in small circles, train to be a coach, become a third level listener and learn to tango. The organisation needs a mention as well, as smooth and well run by Lynda Couch-Smith and her team as I think we have all come to expect, not sure about the IOSH cube though.

I think this might be the only conference I have ever been to when I didn’t leave before the closing remarks to make sure I caught the train home, and not just because the venue was about two minutes from York station.’

Eleanor Pirie
Head of Health and Safety
Human Resources
University of the Arts London

A speaker's perspective on the Autumn Seminar from Dr Melanie Taylor from the University of Manchester

The programme was put together well to showcase individual universities' schemes and programmes to develop a competency development framework for safety advisors in local and central roles; to plan and deliver a training needs analysis; to develop and deliver a training strategy; to research the benefits and drawbacks of moving to on-line delivery of training and some practical ways of improving engagement during training by getting 4 delegates to stand on one leg (there is a connection to manual handling, honest).

Speakers from outside the sector advocated coaching, and the benefits of blended learning were illustrated by reference to learning a new skill of ballroom dancing. A common thread was to question what we are trying to achieve and how to do it in an efficient and effective manner.

It is an obvious truth that there is a lot more to competency than attending traditional health and safety training courses, but having a string of courses to one's name is still a widespread approach amongst those moving into such a role - and their managers. These courses provide us with the knowledge we need, but don't necessarily change attitude or behaviours.

For safety practitioners attending courses, there is very little content about the skills we need to apply that knowledge more effectively.

Presentations on such a wide range of topics served to illustrate the need for the logical and integrated approach that USHA's working group is beginning to shape, and which seeks to addresses this "soft skills" gap for safety professionals, for managers and for others. The group's work is evolving from having a very general remit under the broad heading of "training", into a more focused set of objectives covering the many facets of safety practitioners' training activities and their own competency. The task ahead is considerable and will not be delivered quickly but this is an encouraging start.

Dr Melanie J Taylor
Head of Safety Services
University of Manchester

New structure and remit of the Competency, Development and Training Group is outlined at USHA’s Autumn Seminar

Rachel Valentine from the University of Manchester, who is the newly appointed chair of the USHA Competency, Development and Training Group said “I found the conference of real benefit and hope the other delegates felt the same. It’s great to be part of an event where people are happy to share their learning about the innovative projects they are involved in, leading to “light-bulb” moments about something new that can be brought back into our own institutions and a sense that we are on the same page, or are facing similar challenges.”

Rachel also shared her thoughts regarding the proposed new restructure and remit of the USHA Competency, Development and Training Group that has emerged from the USHA Training Group set up in 2013. “Although the potential remit of the group is vast and changeable, I see specifically identified projects fitting into one of two work streams. Firstly, the creation of learning and development resources that can be used by universities to support the local delivery of high quality training and, secondly, support for the development of competency through guidance documentation and the development of specific frameworks. A number of initial projects are already underway and I would like to thank everyone who is already contributing to one of the project groups. I would also make a plea to anyone who is interested to get involved and help us in delivering this ambitious undertaking.”

See photographs from the event

More information about the USHA Competency Development and Training Group structure, Terms of Reference and current specific projects can be found on the USHA Website, and if you would like further or would like to contribute on the work of USHA, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Rachel Valentine (Chair) : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Acting Chair Gary Wood is actively seeking collaborative working

April's AGM saw Clive Parkinson (finally!) cut his ties with USHA and the Exec - or so he thought! You cannot build the links or continue to promote USHA as Clive has done and simply disappear. His offer to Professor Diamond in front of us all at the conference was 'pure Clive'! As part of the Exec’s transition I'm really pleased that Clive has agreed to short-term involvement in areas he's been instrumental in.

Looking forward - first it’s a huge welcome onto the Executive Board to Cathy Day (Bath) , Vincent King( Brunel) and Monica Kanwar ( Herts) . They all bring new impetus and direction whilst still building on what is already in place. It's also congratulations to Angus Clark (St Andrews) on his election to Secretary and Scott Trim (Birmingham City) for agreeing to take the role of Treasurer. His predecessor is eternally grateful! I know I have a good collective to support me during my tenure as Chair.

The thrust of the latest newsletter is reflecting on September's extremely successful conference on training and competency. Rachel Valentine offers you a really useful insight into how the topic's group is evolving and the challenges and initiatives ahead.

Clive's approach to Professor Diamond has initiated an exciting potential opportunity. USHA is looking to secure Significant funding for work that will contribute to greater efficiency across the sector as part of Professor Diamond's review is available. I am currently working with relevant parties on the best way forward to bid for this funding. Universities UK is happy to support our bid.

It's nearly a year since USHA's Planning Day and now the new Exec is 'bedding in' our focus will become the 10 areas arising from the day.

In the early days of my tenure I'm already seeing and actively seeking collaborative working between USHA's groups, other associations, organisations and groups within and external to the sector, especially where this secures influence amongst our senior colleagues. This will be really enhanced should the funding under the Diamond Review be secured.

Those who know me know the passion I've always had for USHA (and USA for those who can remember our predecessor!) and becoming Chair is only increasing it.

Gary Wood
Acting Chair USHA

UK University Estates Turnover Hits £27 billion

  • University Sector Turnover Equivalent To Fourth Largest FTSE Company
  • Higher Education Capital Expenditure Greater Than Entire Crossrail Budget
  • Universities Occupy 26 million m2 (280 million sq ft )
  • Over 2.5 Times The Size Of The Government’s Estate (10 million m2 (107 million sq ft )

Today, the Association of University Directors of Estate (AUDE) releases its comprehensive annual report which details the impact of University estates and facilities across the UK.

The report titled ‘Higher Education Estates Statistics Report 2014’ shows the University sector has a turnover of £27.3 billion, spends £2bn (excluding residential) per annum and occupies 26 million m2 (280 million sq ft).

Breaking this down, in comparison to FTSE listed companies the University sector would follow Tesco (£63bn*), Vodafone (£38.3bn), SSE (£30.6bn) into fourth spot with Sainsbury’s just behind with a turnover of £23.9bn. In terms of capital expenditure on University estates, excluding residential, the spend was £2bn between 2012-2013 which equates to more than the average annual Crossrail budget (£14.8bn spread across 9 years between 2009-18). In terms of size, UK universities occupy an area just shy of the NHS estate (30 million m2, 322 million sq ft) but more than two and a half times the Governments own estate (10 million m2, 107 million sq ft).

The sector has experienced monumental changes over the past 5 years with tuition fees trebling in England, income declining in real terms, competition growing and any surplus income or space under significant pressure and demand. Up to 2010 the sector saw year-on-year increases in income - greater than inflation - but now copes with the fact that its income has not been as fast growing with ever increasing costs. The report also reveals the substantial investment made into estates - £2bn in 2012/13 - with such funding increasingly coming from internal University sources rather than from the Government.

Energy and emissions forms another key focus of the report and with these costs expected to continue to rise, the sector is at the forefront for carbon reduction strategies. At present, this is yet to materialise into reduced energy consumption, however, it holds the increase in consumption to a manageable level as buildings become ever more complex.BREAK Excellent work has been done across the sector to date and a theme of continuous improvement is apparent. The annual report highlights some of the key trends to date, examples of which include:

  • University estates and facilities are accessed by 2.4 million members of the British population Investment, excluding residential, in the academic estate has risen by £170m or 9% from 2011-12
  • The size of the estate remains stable with older buildings demolished and new buildings producing more balanced space
  • Total property costs slightly reducing, despite significant upward pressure on the increasing cost of energy and other factors outside the control of Universities
  • Improved income per m2
  • A reduction in space with efficiencies being introduced and greater utilisation
  • Overall carbon emissions remaining stable, showing the previous upward trend has been halted, and reducing when calculated by FTE
  • Functional suitability and condition of buildings improving and the age of the estate getting younger
  • Increased residential capital expenditure

Andrew Burgess AUDE Chairman and Deputy Chief Operating Officer of Loughborough University, said:

”The EMS report once again shows the magnitude of what the HE Estates sector produces annually, in terms of the work it delivers, the scale it covers and the people it provides for. This report undoubtedly shows that good-quality estates management translates into a better staff and student experience which, in a climate of increased tuition fees, less income and added competition, is more valuable than ever. The University Estates sector is often taken for granted but through demonstrating that its annual turnover is larger than 346 of the FTSE 350 top revenues, I hope that people will appreciate the size, quality and impact of HE estates to both local and the UK economy.”

Sir Ian Diamond, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, said:

“The HE sector has undergone Copernican changes in recent years as the effects of budget cuts, tuition fees and soaring energy prices pile pressure onto a body already providing so much for so many. This report shines a light on exemplary practice and should be mandatory reading for anybody facing cuts and similar changes. The University estate is, quite literally, the building blocks of our nation’s academia and future and should be supported and celebrated at every opportunity.”

The report, which was completed by every UK-wide higher education institution, creates a robust and complete picture for the entire sector. The report has been written, for the second consecutive year by CBRE, the global experts in commercial real estate services.

George Griffith, from CBRE who was involved in authoring the report said: “The size and complexity of the University estate is something that is a constant source of surprise to the wider public, and those in the property industry. Few people realise that the estate is almost as large as the NHS or the resources that go into its management and ongoing development. It is clear University estates management underpins our future generations’ development with the sector contributing substantially to the public purse in the process. This data will become a benchmark to analyse how continuous improvements can be made now and going forward.”

Download the report

Treating University students or staff with suspected Ebola

The information below comes from NHS Choices and USHA Health Managers might find this useful. There is also a link below to a government website:

In respect of people coming to the UK from infected areas: Advice has been issued to the Border Force to identify possible cases of Ebola and there are procedures in place to provide care to the patient and to minimise public health risk to others.

In terms of transmission: It typically takes 5-7 days for symptoms to develop after infection, so there is time to identify people who may have been exposed, put them under surveillance and if they show symptoms, quarantine them.

The virus is not as easily transmitted as a respiratory virus such as influenza and Ebola victims do not become infectious until shortly before they develop symptoms. The disease then progresses very rapidly. This means infectious people do not walk around spreading the disease for a long period.

It would seem the likelihood of people getting into the UK infected is quite low, and in time educational establishments known to be accepting people from areas of risk would most likely get guidance from the authorities.

With regard to first aid, the chances of someone with the disease walking around and then suddenly collapsing appears to be fairly low

Members may find the flow chart at the end of the document particularly useful.

FIREX 2014

Please inform the visitors to register at to receive their VIP passes. Please also note this will get them VIP access to Safety & Health Expo which runs alongside FIREX as well. As a VIP they receive a number of perks which are listed below:

* Entry to the VIP Club Lounge in any show within Protection & Management 2014; FIREX International, Safety & Health Expo, IFSEC International, Facilities Show.
* Fast Track entry to the event at the ExCeL
* Refreshments (tea, coffee, pastries, biscuits)
* A buffet style lunch in the VIP Club Lounge
* Access to Happy Hour - a daily networking opportunity from 2pm - 4pm for VIP visitors
* Access to charging stations and power points in the VIP Club Lounge so you can stay in touch with the office from the show floor
* Access to the FIREX & IFSEC Global Meetings Programme - providing a matching service for buyers looking to meet specific technology provider

USHA has signed a new Memorandum of Understanding with the Association for Project Safety


USHA has signed a new Memorandum of Understanding with the Association for Project Safety (APS).

Speaking at the signing in London, the new Chief Executive of APS, Rob Strange, said "it is strategically important for us to forge closer links with other associations and I am delighted that we have started a working partnership with USHA".

USHA's Chair, Allan Watson, reiterated "it's a great move to share initiatives in the future especially with our Estates Specialist Group".

Lab Servant Group News

Members of USHA visited Delft University to view the 'lab Servant' laboratory safety software product developed by Delft University. A further demonstration of the Lab Servant was arranged y for colleagues from Leeds and Durham. University along with colleagues from Surrey later in the year. This had led to an approach by USHA to Hefce for resources to help develop the software further.

The above visit to Delft also led to a visit by health & safety colleagues from the Netherlands to Imperial College London, Cambridge and Surrey last year. The Dutch equivalent Association to USHA have recently agreed to host a return to Maastricht later this year. If you wish to get involved please contact the Project Groups Chair Clive Parkinson This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Hochiki Serve a Light Refreshment

The growing sophistication of emergency lighting systems means that as well as being a vital part of a building’s life safety infrastructure they can also save money and reduce CO2 emissions. Julian Bailey of Hochiki Europe explains the advantages intelligent LED based solutions with advanced battery technology have over traditional systems.

Anyone who has had the misfortune of being in an unfamiliar building when a fire alarm is activated or a main lighting failure has occurred will understand the true value of an emergency lighting system. Although we often take these familiar green and white signs for granted, emergency lighting’s role, as part of an overall life safety system, should never be underestimated. Recent years have witnessed significant advancements in the technology deployed in these systems, with the result that they now offer a level of intelligence that combines energy efficiency with reliability and ease-of-use.

Bad behaviour
The way in which we use energy is constantly in the spotlight and if further proof was required of the need for all of us to address our behaviour it came in a 2013 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It stated that scientists are 95 per cent certain that we are the ‘dominant cause’ of global warming since the 1950s.

This might not come as much of a surprise. However, through greater awareness of the effects of CO2, combined with the financial implications of rising utility bills, organisations are more willing and able than ever to use energy wisely. Growing legislation and regulation means that businesses all over the world are implementing energy reduction measures. The focus is often on adopting renewable energy technologies such as solar photovoltaics (PV), wind turbines and ground and air source heat pumps as ways to generate power, while others are using building management systems (BMS) to gain a holistic view of their energy use and identify ways to lower their consumption.

However, the pressure is on to do even more, which is why building owners and managers are having to drill down and look at individual elements of their building services infrastructures to see whether there any additional savings can be made.

Light years ahead
Modern emergency lighting systems offer the possibility for significant energy and cost savings. This is due to two key factors – the use of light emitting diode (LED) based lighting and advanced battery technology.

Traditional emergency lighting systems utilise crude nickel cadmium, nickel metal hydride or lead acid batteries. They drive the centrally operated system by continually charging, discharging a little and then recharging – a process that uses unnecessary amounts of energy and quickly decreases the lifecycle of the battery. It means that battery life is limited to between one and four years, dependent upon the application.

State-of-the-art intelligent technology, however, only utilises the amount of power needed to fully charge the Emergency Lighting batteries, and then shuts the battery down until an emergency situation occurs. This avoids degradation, prolongs life and reduces energy consumption. Some systems are also available with luminaires that are equipped with integral batteries allowing continued operation for at least three hours, even in cases where the control panel or power cables are damaged. Maintained luminaires can be powered directly from the line so as not to affect any battery capacity therefore leaving the batteries in an “always ready” state.

So what sort of energy savings can be made as a result? It is estimated intelligent battery systems use between 5-10 per cent energy of that of a traditional battery system would use. Consider larger installations of up to 5,000 luminaires – which are not uncommon in hospitals, for example – and the savings soon become apparent.

Bright spark
It is estimated that lighting accounts for more than 19 per cent of the world’s total electricity consumption. According to Green LED Solutions, if only half of worldwide lighting was converted to LED by 2025, power use would be cut by 120GW, saving £66bn a year and reducing CO2 emissions from power plants by 350Mt over the same period.

LED lighting has seen rapid adoption and the global market was worth $25.4bn in 2013, according to a Digitimes Research Special Report. LED technology is both cost effective and environmentally friendly, making it a greener alternative to other systems that are currently available and allowing operating costs to be kept to a minimum without compromising efficiency.

LED technology is now being used in emergency lighting systems and these new luminaires offer some impressive savings. For instance, they consume less than 0.5W, while a similar 8W fluorescent light exit luminaire will use approximately 12W. These systems also come with additional energy saving features, including signage that is connected via low voltage 40V cabling, which is powered and configured on the same loop via a single panel, giving high levels of control via an automatic system.

Testing times
All emergency lighting systems must be tested on a monthly basis in compliance with BS EN 50172. The test itself usually involves flicking a manual switch, which interrupts the power supply to the luminaire, so that it illuminates. A full record sheet needs to be maintained for each emergency luminaire and entered into a logbook, which must be available for inspection by the authorities at any time. Failure to provide full test records can result in legal action and closure of the building, and if the emergency lighting is defective, the insurance policy for the building may be invalid.

On the surface this all seems reasonable and fulfils the requirements of the standard, however, the testing process itself is flawed and does not necessarily result in a safe and fully functional system. All it does is check that the system works for a few seconds when the manual switch is operated – what happens if the system fails five minutes after the test? It won’t be retested for another month, so could leave a building’s occupants vulnerable in the meantime.

Also, it doesn't test just how long the luminaires will stay on for and whether the battery has enough power to maintain operation for the period specified in the relevant standards. The time required to evacuate the premises depends on its size and complexity. The duration itself is dependent not only on evacuation time but also on whether the premises are evacuated immediately the power and normal lighting fails and/or are reoccupied immediately the supply is restored.

BS EN 50172 states the minimum duration of an emergency lighting system as one hour. However, a minimum duration of three hours should be used for emergency lighting if the premises are not evacuated immediately, as in the case of sleeping accommodation, for example, or if the premises will be reoccupied immediately the supply is restored without waiting for the batteries to be recharged. It should also be noted that to comply with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 101 Life Safety Code, emergency lights are required to stay lit for 90 minutes.

Modern emergency lighting control panels continuously monitor and test functionality in real time. They can also be pre-programmed to carry out specific monthly, six monthly and annual tests and it is also possible to set operational parameters up to alert when batteries are at 85 per cent capacity, providing a high level of reassurance that the system will work correctly under all circumstances.

Right place, right time
Evacuation is usually hindered by a lack of detailed knowledge of the internal connectivity of the building space, along with confusing and poorly thought out instructions. Studies have also shown that in these situations occupants usually make use of familiar routes – typically using the exit through which they entered the building. Even more worryingly, research from the University of Greenwich, as part of its study called Human Behaviour in Fire Network (HUBFIN), found that only 38 per cent of people see passive signage in an emergency.

This is a frightening statistic and only serves to highlight the importance of siting an emergency lighting system in a way that will guide people to a safe location in the event of a mains lighting failure.

BS EN 50172 offers guidance on the positioning of luminaires, provides a minimum standard that should be applied and gives guidance on specific hazards and points of emphasis that have to be accounted for. Points of emphasis are mandatory locations where lighting must highlight specific hazards, safety equipment and signs. These include areas near stairs, near changes of level, at each change of direction, near fire fighting equipment and manual call points, outside and near to each final exit, first aid points, at exit doors, and near safety signs.

Signs are either internally of externally illuminated and the maximum viewing distances for internally illuminated signs is 200 times the panel height, and 100 times the panel height for externally illuminated signs. Luminaires must offer 1Lux of output in escape routes and 0.5Lux in open areas. Emergency lighting should also be positioned in such a way to ensure that people are free from disability glare, which can prevent obstructions or signs from being properly seen.

It is worth remembering that Industry Committee for Emergency Lighting (ICEL) approved products are independently tested and meet the current product and application standards. Therefore, selecting products with ICEL approval will provide reassurance of compliance.

Look to the future
The problems with passive signage are clear from the University of Greenwich’s HUBFIN research, which is why the integration of fire detection and emergency lighting systems is the next step in adding intelligence and greater effectiveness to a life safety infrastructure.

A traditional emergency lighting system does not allow signs to be ‘shut off’, which can allow people to unwittingly travel into the path of danger. In places such as hospitals and care homes, where people often have restricted mobility, time is of the essence and must not be wasted by having to decipher the most appropriate escape route.

By integrating a fire detection system with emergency lighting, and by identifying where a fire is taking place, the correct route can be configured and communicated. For example, by responding to information sent from the fire detectors it is possible to put a red ‘X’ on specific emergency luminaires, which signals to people not to exit via that particular route. This can also be synchronised with the existing PA/VA system, adding another level of safety.

Not only does integration make good sense from a safety point of view, it has a number of cost saving and environmental benefits. It is estimated that it could reduce the entire system’s wiring content by 75 per cent, as there would be only one loop with both functions.

Feature packed
A correctly specified, installed and maintained emergency lighting system is crucial in order to give occupants a way of evacuating a building safely in the event of a mains lighting failure, or if required, a fire. The regulations, standards and guidance on this subject are comprehensive and the advanced LED lighting and battery technology that is now available combines reliability, functionality and usability with another way to save energy.

For more information you can visit or contact Hochiki Europe's Emergency Lighting Manager, Ian Watts, on 07789 228949.