Use of premises controlled by others for teaching purposes

Legal requirements

All employers have a general legal duty "to conduct [their] undertaking" in a manner which ensures that, so far as reasonably practicable, people not in their employment are not exposed to risks to their health and safety [Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974]. They further have a duty to provide another employer, who sends his/her employees to work at their undertaking, with information about the risks associated with their business which might affect the visiting workers' health and safety, and information about the measures in place to address those risks. Conversely, if the visitors introduce risks to the permanent workforce (for example from equipment or substances they take with them), then their employers should inform the host employer about such risks and the measures to control them [Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999].

Owners and occupiers of premises which are used by people who are not their employees have a duty to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that there are no risks to health and safety from the premises, including any corridors, staircases, storage areas, the entrances and exits and any machinery or materials on the premises [Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act].

Practical implications

Within the University, some health and safety duties are necessarily devolved down to those immediately in charge of the work. Thus, in the case of teaching carried out in off-campus, non-University controlled premises, the onus is on the person in charge of that teaching to ensure that sufficient health and safety information has been received from the host employer or the owner or occupier of the premises, as appropriate. This information must then be passed on to the person who carries out the teaching.

Generally, for hired accommodation, information should be sought on:

  1. the procedures in place for raising the alarm and the emergency evacuation routes and procedures of the premises in case of fire or similar emergency;
  2. the availability of fire fighting equipment;
  3. the procedures to deal with accidents and sudden illness i.e. what first aid facilities are available for minor injuries and the procedures to deal with major injury or serious illness;
  4. whether there are any particular problems associated with the building e.g. very steep stairs, no lift, etc. This will be particularly relevant if disabled people are likely to be attending the class(es).

Confirmation that at least the minimum standards set out in the Approved Code of Practice to the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 (which deal with matters such as heating, lighting, ventilation, sanitary provision, etc.) are being met should also be sought.

When a client's accommodation is used, prior information about emergency procedures is less important because University staff will be accompanied by the client's staff when on his/her premises. Information should be sought, though, on any non-trivial risks from the client's work and workplace to which University personnel might be exposed and how these risks are controlled.

To discharge the University's duty to others, the person in charge of the teaching must ensure that any risks from it to others, e.g. the client's staff, are controlled adequately and that the client is informed about any non-trivial risks. The risks associated with ordinary classroom teaching ("chalk and talk") are few and minimal and when this is the only activity planned, no action is necessary. However, if risks are introduced from practical demonstrations, equipment, experiments, etc., then the other employer must be informed in advance about them and about the control measures to be used.  These must be derived from a risk assessment of the hazards involved.

Visiting lecturers

Those who visit other institutions, etc. to lecture need to exchange health and safety information with their host if they plan to carry out hazardous demonstrations, etc. during their talk.  Any hazardous demonstration would require a risk assessment based on the University’s usual risk assessment policy.


February 2010