Section 6: support staff handbook

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It is the policy of the University to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all its employees and members. There is a Consultative Committee for Health and Safety, including representatives of the trade unions recognised for this purpose, which continually reviews matters of health, safety and welfare.

However, since no safety policy can be successful without their cooperation, it is equally the policy of the University to ensure that all members of staff are aware of their own duty to exercise care in preventing injury to themselves and to others.

Full details of the University Safety Policy are kept in a red loose-leaf folder in your Departmental Library or convenient alternative location. It comprises the following:

  • The University's General Statement of Safety Policy;
  • The Departmental Statement of Safety Organization;
  • University Policy Statements (formerly Guidance Notes);
  • Departmental safety rules and systems of work.

When you join the University you have a duty to read these papers and make sure you are familiar with them. Ignorance of their contents will not be accepted as an excuse in case of accidents or prosecutions. Copies of new Policy Statements are placed on your departmental notice board when they are first issued.

6.1.1 Action in the case of fire or other emergency

Each department has its own procedures to be followed in the case of fire or other emergency. You should ensure that you are familiar with them and that you know what action to take if (a) you discover a fire and (b) you hear a fire alarm.

6.1.2 Accident procedure

You should familiarise yourself with the first aid provision in your department and with the procedures to be followed in the case of accidents requiring more than first aid. Each department is required to keep accident report forms and if you have an accident at work you should immediately notify your Departmental Administrator (or equivalent)* who must then inform the Safety Office so that it may be recorded. Full details of what is required in cases where an accident keeps you away from work are contained in circulars held by your Administrator.

* Note: in some departments, faculties and other units the role of Departmental Administrator may be carried out by an equivalent person with a different title.

6.1.3 Illness or accident at work, and university medical arrangements

The University Occupational Health Service provides specialist occupational health medical advice to all employees of the University and to other members of the University in certain circumstances. The Occupational Health Service does not undertake general practice services, first aid, or emergency treatment. Details of First Aiders, who should be contacted in the first instance, are displayed on departmental notice boards. More detailed information on medical emergencies (including sharps injuries, bites and exposure to infectious material) is located within the University Occupational Health Service website at:

Note: use of private cars by members of the University for transporting patients and without specific insurance cover for use on university business are covered by the University's insurers, but against third-party claims only. If it is deemed appropriate to use a car, preferably have a person, other than the driver, to accompany the patient. Should this not be possible, the use of a taxi should be considered.

Illness believed to be a direct result of exposure atrelated to work perhaps as a direct exposure to chemicals, other substances, or environmental conditions should be reported without delay to the University Occupational Health Service for appropriate investigation and advice.

Occupationally-related injuries or exposures of medical concern must also be reported to the University Safety Office on the Accident Report Forms in the department concerned as soon after the incident as is reasonable. Certain situations or medical conditions may be reportable to the Health and Safty Executive, via the University Safety Office, under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR). Further details are provided in Safety Policy S4/00 'Accident and Incident Reporting'. Certain accidents/incidents require special treatment. Details of First Aiders, who should be contacted in the first instance, are displayed on departmental noticeboards.

In case of emergencies, refer to Medical/First Aid Emergencies. 

6.1.4 Overseas travel

Members of the University travelling overseas in the course of their work or going on expeditions may if they wish obtain advice from the Occupational Health Service about the special hazards and the appropriate immunisations. As much notice as possible must be given, as it is often impossible to arrange appropriate protection at short notice.

Only official expeditions will be given medical advice and appropriate medical kits, but at least a term's notice must be given. Please contact the University Exploration Club to discuss the arrangements for obtaining advice.

The University Occupational Health Service does not undertake advice for travellers going on holidays or personal trips or unofficial expeditions. For such advice please consult your general practitioner.

Most departments have arrangements for dealing with welfare matters, and advice and help should always be sought in the first instance within your own department.

Additionally, the University has an Occupational Health Service, which is available to help with work-related health issues or with personal difficulties which impact on work. The service offers short-term work-related counselling and the service will refer you, in confidence, to one of its panel of external professional counsellors, if clinically appropriate. Otherwise, the service will recommend other forms of support. The service (at 10 Parks Road, telephone (2)82676) is available to all employees of the University and may be consulted by any staff member wishing to seek help beyond that normally available through his or her department. University staff in management positions may refer members of their staff to the service, by agreement with the member of staff.

6.3.1 Staff development and training

The University is committed to supporting and developing its most important resource: its staff. Professional and educational development opportunities are provided to staff by various departments of the University. Staff are encouraged to make the most of these opportunities to enhance their personal and career development.

The People and organisational development provides a range of development opportunities for staff, including an annual programme of seminars and courses in areas as diverse as committee servicing, assertiveness, appraisal, time management, and writing research papers. The Institute also works with departments to identify development needs for staff and to help implement responses to these.

The Institute houses a small library of resources which can be borrowed by university staff. These include books and journals, and a selection of videos and IT-based learning resources. Information about external courses is also held at the Institute.

For further information and advice about what the Institute offers, please consult the IT Services website, telephone the enquiries helpline on 01865 (2)86808, or send an email to

Training in IT, including software packages such as Word and Powerpoint, is available from Oxford IT Services. More information about what IT Services offers is available from the IT Services website or telephone 01865 (2)83434.

Other training is available from:

  • Health and Safety: The Safety Office, telephone: 01865 (2)70881
  • Languages: The Languages Centre, telephone: 01865 (2)83361
  • Library Services Staff Development Office (for library staff), telephone: 01865 (2)84455

6.3.2 Continuing professional development

Continuing professional development activities (CPD) can include attendance at externally provided courses, or distance and open learning programmes (such as those offered by the Open University). In some cases, CPD activities may be supported by your department. The support which may be offered might include time off to attend taught courses, exam leave, and the provision of facilities such as library access for the use of the student by arrangement with the library or department concerned. If you are considering undertaking a course of CPD it is important to discuss this with your Departmental Administrator as early as possible, in order to ascertain the level of support, if any, that the department will be able to provide.

6.3.3 Open University

Assistance to students of the Open University who are University employees is complementary to the assistance provided by the County Council to any Oxfordshire resident as defined by the Council. The assistance which is available from the County Council is to be seen in its 'Handbook on Awards to students' which may be obtained from the office of the Chief Education Officer at the County Offices.

The University will assist by providing:

  1. up to a week's extra paid holiday each year to attend the Summer School;
  2. facilities for the use by the student of the libraries of other departments and institutions as well as his or her own, by arrangement with the department concerned.

Other than the extra week's holiday, additional time off for study is not granted.

University posts are graded on the basis of a formal assessment of their work content. Promotion to a higher grade depends on movement to a different post or upon the work of your current post being increased considerably in scope and responsibility by your department. There are established procedures for regular reviews of grading to deal with the situations in which work content increases in the manner referred to above. Further information relating to grading matters, including details of how to apply for regrading, is available from your Departmental Administrator.

Vacancies which occur within the University are advertised on the University website. You may apply for any vacancy if you think you fulfil the requirements of the post described; and departments have been asked to give special consideration to employees paid on outside grants where those grants are coming to an end.