Safety at ST Barts University

By Friday, I had received fifty of the sixty-eight questionnaires. In questions one, two, three and eight, people found that health and safety excelled in these areas, however agreeing that health and safety could be improved in general. In questions four, five, six and seven, most employees found that the Health and Safety policy was not effective in these areas such as employees not wearing correct clothing when in the labs or sanitation.

Comments made on some of the questions consisted of 'lack of encouragement in wearing correct clothing in the labs' 'I've worked here for years and I've never needed to wear lab-gear' 'what's the point in washing your hands when you've been wearing gloves? ' (The point obviously is risk of contamination! ). The results that I concluded from the employee questionnaire is need of 'nagging' to get people to wear correct clothing whilst in the labs for the sake of their health and others; in addition to 'nagging' them to wash their hands!

Posters by an unused sink are not effective enough. I noticed in my research that I was the only colleague in the labs to be wearing goggles, latex gloves and a lab-coat! Soon after concluding my questionnaire research, I contacted the Head of the Neurology department and showed him my findings. He was just as displeased as I was and hosted a meeting for three weeks after my leave. They concluded that they needed more of a disciplinarian tone to stress the importance of following health and safety rules.

As of next year, employees must follow the health and safety rules strictly (wearing lab-gear in labs at all time, promoting hygiene etc. ) otherwise the consequences could be severe (they have even drawn up a contract for all employees to sign encouraging health and safety! ). Week two there was a fire alarm due to a faulty wire in the alarm system. All employees were evacuated and I was one of the only ones out of roughly five-hundred people who knew where we were requested to stand. I was appalled again to find that employees were actually leaning on the glass building unaware that the fire-drill may have been real!

People were even heading off to lunch during the drill! I complained to the health and safety advisor and he said 'well we cannot control everybody in a fire-drill'. There was no routine or procedure that people were aware of or could follow. I spoke with one of the lab-technicians and she believed that the whole six years she had been working at the Institute of Cell and Molecular Science; they had never had a fire-drill and could not remember where to stand in case of a fire or a bombing!

However, I must applaud their consideration of what to do in case of a bombing as the building is centred in Whitechapel, London. (See Appendix 'C' page 18, section 17). On day seven, I had a look at an online Health and safety website for Employers health and safety responsibilities http://www. direct. gov. uk/en/Employment/HealthAndSafetyAtWork/DG_4016686. It exclaims: 'Employers have responsibilities for the health and safety of their employees. They are also responsible for any visitors to their premises such as customers, suppliers and the general public.

'Report certain accidents, injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences to both the Health and Safety Executive or the local authority, depending on the type of business. The role of the employer is extremely important and demanding. My employer fulfilled all of these requirements where I was concerned and therefore successfully met with the demands of health and safety. Evaluation My findings and research on the University's Health and Safety policy and how effective it was, resulted successfully.

I discovered its strengths as well as its weaknesses. It excelled in the areas of the role of the employer's duty to care, treating employees with independence, the bomb-threat procedures, communication between employees about standard procedures covering who does what, when and where, communication of health and safety matters between the employees and making health and safety responsibilities clear to the staff on the other hand, not enforcing these responsibilities need to be followed.

However, they fail heavily in the health and safety of the employees themselves (in not wearing correct lab-wear), sanitation and hygiene entering and exiting the labs, enforcing rules of health and safety that need to be followed religiously, fire rules and procedures (doing regular drills to refresh employees minds of where to stand and exit the building), improving identification, investigation, notification and reporting of accidents and ill-health of employees and the health and safety advisers monitoring the activity within the laboratories regularly.

I think that if there were more communication between the employers and their employees and an established framework of rules (such as the contract), then they would have an effective Health and Safety policy with which both employees and employers are content.