Mission & Services

Prevention begins with You and your manager/ supervisor

Prevention begins with You and your manager/ supervisor

Mission of the Health and Safety Office

The Health and Safety Office through its advisory remit and support function, endeavours to ensure that the Functional Heads of the University and their constituent Colleges/Schools/Departments/Centres/Units comply, as appropriate, with current and developing health and safety legislation.  The Office endeavours also, in accordance with the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, to promote the proactive prevention of accidents\ill-health of UCC employees and those who may be effected by the work of those employees.

The University Health and Safety Office reports to the Corporate Secretary.  The Office is led by the University Safety Officer Mr. John Ring and is assisted by a team of two administrative staff, supported subject to funding, by an occasional/ sessional consultant OHP and a number of safety trainers.

Areas of Activity

The Health and Safety Office advises the Corporate Secretary and the management of  Functional Areas/ Colleges and their constituent Schools/Departments/Centres/Units on:                                  

  1. Managing and conducting H&S as an integral management function on a functional area, school and departmental basis, per the provisions of the SHWW Act 2005 and University Safety policy.
  2. Pro active approach to accident and ill health prevention at work and avoidance of recurrence through corrective measures/ controls- AFARP
  3. Implementation/compliance with existing and developing Health & Safety Legislation including implementation and generation by each Functional Area, of School/Departmental Safety Statements and all risk assessments required by law.
  4. Health and Safety Management strategy and Health & Safety issues 
  5. HSA guidelines, National Standards and Codes of Practice.
  6. Health and Safety Policy, Health and Safety Guidance, Best Practice.
  7. Overall priorities and direction covering risk reduction measures at the corporate level
  8. Legislative requirements (minimum standards) and H&S best practice.
  9. Safety aspects of proposed reserch work and building modifications, adaptations.

The Health and Safety Office directly provides various support services to Schools/Departments as described in the sections following below.

The Health and Safety Office also:

  • Liaises with the Presidents Office and the Corporate Secretary re the initiation of the Functional Area Annual Safety Reports and GB assurance statements by Heads of Function.
  • Collates FA annual returns and organises the benchmarking of the Functional Area Annual Safety Reports by an independent consultant
  • Collates the compilation of the Annual Safety Report to the GB on behalf of the Corporate Secretary.
  • Liaises with other UCC safety preventative advisory roles ( Fire, Radiation, Biological, Dept Safety Officers etc)
  • Liaises with with staff elected/selected Safety Representatives (8 No.) and organises their safety rep training as appropriate to HSA guidelines and UCC systems & structures.
  • Liaises with OCLA insurance, HR, B&E and Regulatory Bodies as appropriate.
  • Liaises with the Student Health Officer and supports the bystander (volunteer) AED initiative introduced into UCC in 2007 by providing training for staff First Aiders (including AED).
  • Administers the H&S aspect of UCCs Accident/Dangerous Occurrence Reporting system and generates comparative statistics for the UCC senior mangement KPI dash board .
  • Administers the staff training records database (for courses executed via the H&S Office)

Details of the Quality system in operation since 1994 is given in the QA link on the side bar on the right hand side of this web page.

Services Available from the H&S Office

Summary of the key support services available to UCC Schools/ Departments via the H&S Office:

  1. Advice on statutory H&S responsibilities, statutory compliance (SHWW Act 2005 and Fire Services Act 2003), best practice with respect to accident and ill health prevention,  safety reviews – New Projects/Buildings, new research areas, building adaptations, special events.
  2. Ongoing Programme of selected Core Health & Safety Training (for staff) - Core/ universal coures ONLY of common application to a majority of departments- subject to funding and cross charging of depts/centres in certain circumstance or in event of part/non attendance. This includes two innovative E-learning programmes for staff with a three year refresher cycle,  that are available 24/7 ( a UCC bespoke fire safety package and a VDU workstation ergonomics package.)To view current staff training programmes please click the following section link Core Training Overview & Schedule 
    (Note: Specialised course or Non core courses or off programme courses are a direct provision matter for relevant Schools/Depts across UCC)
  3.  Sessional (occasional) Occupational Health & Safety Support Services, using experienced consultants in the following areas:
  • Occupational. Health advice (Pro active prevention, Occ. Health risk assessment advice. Occ. Health medical services including work specific vaccinations, audiograms, spirometry, allergy tests and blood tests); (1/2 day every 6 weeks excluding summer recess). Note: Work related medical surveillence test services and work related innoculations costs are bourne by the depts availing of same.
    Note: HR engage OHP for employment medical assessments and employee work place accommodation assessments in cases of pre existing medical conditions or injuries) 
  • Occupational Hygiene (Risk Assessment advice, Evaluation and Control of Exposure to Noise and Hazardous Substances, Work Environment). Note: This expensive service is no longer available and such costs must be borne by departments
  • VDU Eyesight Screening Test (staff). Note: As of 20th Oct 2017,  this service is temporarily unavailable due to the retirement of the Admin Assistant and the provision centrally is under review. Local managemnt must arrange .

 For details on the STAFF VDU EYESIGHT SCREENING TEST please see the section following below 

VDU eyesight screening (staff) - updated

Note: As of 20th Oct 2017 this service is unavailable via the H&S Office due to the retirement of the Admin. Assistant. The provision of the service centrally is under review due to the the above and the availability of competitive pricing from the main high street providers.

In the interim department management should arrange, (for its staff) at the minimum costs arising. This should be undertaken direct with the cheapest local service provider (eye vision testing ) taking account of the following  guidelines. Staff shoudl bring any existing spectacles or lenses with them to the test and the provider should furnish a test report to the department.

 Health and Safety office 25th October 2017

UCC VDU eyesight screening guidlines for staff: (Updated)

STAFF VDU EYESIGHT SCREENING TEST is an entitlement for any staff member who use VDU for 1 hour or more continuously during their work. 

New staff (all categories of regular VDU users - administration, technical and academic) should be advised to undertake same upon commencement of employment.

Existing staff who are experiencing eyesight difficulties relating to VDU use at work can have the test upon application to their manager . The guidleines to the VDSE regulationsthere  indicated an objective of providing repeat screening tests to staff on the following basis:

One screening test every 10 years in the 20/30 age group - unless where there is a VDU vision at work problem.
Biannual screening tests in the 40+ age group.

The prurpose of a  VDU test is to evaluates a number aspects of vision  of relevance to VDU use only. (mid focal length vision) and any assocaited eye coordination difficulties.  Any special applainces deemed necessary are related to minimising fatigue and maximising comfort. Staff shoudl separately undertake the UCC e-VDSE training and ensure their workstation is set up accrodance tihe learning outcomes therein.

VDU results may also need to be examined by the University Occupational Health Physician. Under law the costs of sme and any VDU test or any basic special corective appliance for VDU use are at UCC's expense. ( now via the Department)

If the VDU screening test highlights that the employee's vision is perfectly adequate for VDU use at present (or whilst using pre-existing special corrective appliances already provided) but recommends that the employee should consider having their vision further examined due to other factors, then this would be a separate  employee action with their own Optician).

An Optometrist's VDU vision test may also highlight vdu use issue many fatigue or pre-existing conditions, may be resolved by normal corrective appliances (first time spectacle wearers or new prescriptions for existing wearers). Such appliances would not be at UCC's expense.

If special corrective appliances (single vision mid focal length lenses) are required solely for VDU use, then the employer - (UCC) via its department, is liable for the cost of a basic polycarbonate  single vision lens and a basic durable frame - without cosmetic features such as anti glare treatments or tints. This is providing any such appliance previously provided by UCC has proved no longer adequate for their purpose, during the screening test.

Staff who choose other frames/lenses or special treatments do so at their own cost and must arrange same directly with the  Optometrist. In such circumstances the balance cost woudl reside with the employee direct.

Staff who already wear spectacles for reading or distance vision and who the optometrist deems requires special corrective appliances for VDU use have the option of:

(a) a pair of spectacles specifically for VDU use which they must interchange with their own normal spectacles as necessary as they alternate between VDU use and other non-VDU work i.e. reading, filing, reception work etc. (These spectacles should be kept at the VDU station at all times). Or

(b)personally arranging through  the optometrist to obtain spectacles incorporating bi-focal/vari focal length lenses. In such circumstances the basic VDE lens and frame cost to be billed to the department and the balance to be settled by the employee on furnishing of an optometrists test report. In this way, the employee and the employer each contribute to a spectacle that fulfills the wearer's normal vision requirements and VDU vision correction requirements. (The wearer would however, be responsible for the cost of any repairs to these spectacles/frames).

Where the updating of a prescription for a normal corrective appliance will rectify an employee's VDU eyesight problems (i.e. where a person has a pre-existing eye condition and wears spectacles for reading), UCC is not liable for the costs involved.

subject to the furnishing of the necessary receipts. UCC will only cover optician cost for normal VDU vision testing or normal VDU corrective appliances. ( basic lens and frame) - no cosmetic treatments or tints.

N.B. In all cases where UCC pays towards or for VDU Corrective Lenses (either incorporated with their own lenses or in special “stand alone” frames) they must be worn at all times by the staff member whilst engaged in VDU work for UCC.   Staff shoudl also wear a similar appliance for home use VDU work.


Areas of Contribution to UCCs corporate mission

Areas of contribution to the corporate mission of UCC

The substantive role of the University Health and Safety Office is advisory and relates to staff occupational H&S, UCC's corporate compliance with current and developing occupational H&S legislation and change management with respect to managing H&S as an integral core management value throughout the University. 

In support of the academic function and overall student experience, the University Safety Officer as a senior manager reporting to the Corporate Sectary contributes significantly to executive managers in all areas of University business both academic and service and to Corporate & Legal Affairs (OCLA) and Buildings and Estates in particular. High level health and safety management and fire engineering expertise and input is given w.r.t:

    • Regulatory compliance and best practice
    • Risk management, loss control and targeted HEA funding submisions.
    • Functional area benchmarking (F.A. annual safety reports) 
    • Strategic planning and development of the Universities estates and infrastructure;
    • The planning and delivery of capital projects, minor works and major events
    • Property assessments and advice to B&E & OCLA on H&S aspects of the UCC risk register.
    • Facilities, estates and infrastructre enhancements 
    • Corporate compliance with safety regulations, building regulations and related safety legislation, universal access principles  
    • Review of  arrangements for UCC events with major public safety implications.
    • H&S aspects of business operation and continuity planning. 

To view the services available from and the principal areas of activity of the H&S Office please click the preceeding sections.

Ancillary Areas of Contribution

The Health and Safety Office contributes significantly to the Corporate Secretary and the Office of Corporate & Legal Affairs in relation to risk management, loss prevention and control, support of insurers/ risk managers, accident reporting and prevention, minimization of claims, response to claims and optimization of  risk profile conditions to facilitate procurement of competitive rates of insurance   

The Health and Safety Office also contributes significantly to:

  • the activities of the HR department in relation to  appropriate staff policies in the H&S area, OHP evaluation of  UCC work related staff occupational health issues and the University’s achievement of the ATHENA SWAN award and the Excellence Through People Gold Standard Award.
  • Buildings and Estates - Project reviews of new buildings and refurbishment projects ( see further details on the section following below).

The H&S office also supports the goals of  the UCC bystander AED scheme and H1N1 influenza precautions administered by the Student Health Officer  

The Health and Safety Office also facillitates Campus Companies to participate in cost effective access to centralised core H&S training programmes for staff.  

Safety input to New Buildings & Refurbishment

Buildings and Estates and their design teams have legal obligations to design for safety in the design of new premises and to cater for the safe maintenance of premises. (AFARP). These obligations arise under Irish Building Control Regulations, SHWW Act/Regulations, the Fire Services Act and the Equal Status Act.  B&E are also required by law to obtain Fire Certificates and Disabled Access Certificates ( approval from the relevant local Government City or County Council), in advance of commencing work involving the construction of new premises or substantial refurbishments to existing premises. The SHWW Construction regulations also apply extensive obligations on Clients, design teams and contractors in relation to the design and execution of various categories of projects and advance notification to the Health and Safety Authority for significant construction works ( wide definition since 2013) or works involving any removal of building materials containing Asbestos ( SHWW Asbestos Regulations).

The University Safety Officer and Occupational Hygienist work on an ongoing basis with the project teams, within Capital Projects Office and the Buildings Office and their design teams, to endeavour to:

  1. Incorporate best practice facility management features w.r.t H&S, fire safety and welfare into all finished projects
  2. Ensure premises and facilities are fit for purpose, minimise risk and achive appropriate compliance with UCC safety policy and the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act\subordinate regulations and Fire Services Act.

In this context the University Safety Officer is available to B&E to provide professional safety evaluations of Capital Projects and Minor Works or Refurbishment projects focusing on the H&S aspect of all phases of the these projects (design, commencement on site, handover).  The Health and Safety Office have provided B&E management with extensive checklists to aid in this complex process given the wide ranging nature of UCC buildings and research activities  in order to achieve the highest possible safety standards in finished UCC buildings/ facilities and to minimise and design out risks as far as possible at the design stage.

Regular 6 weekly safety meetings are also held by Buildings and Estates Management involving the University Safety Officer.

Teh SAfety Office has also assited the Director of B&E to prioritise EIB dunded backlog maintenance and safety investment (Phase I) in UCC premsises that commencing Q4 2016. (€20 million targeted priorities over a four year period)

Old Stairs - New H/Rails

Old Stairs - New H/Rails

Health & Safety Office

5 Carrigside, College Road, Cork