The University of Birmingham has been a centre of research, innovation and learning excellence for over a century. It operates a large and complex estate and as part of its commitment to delivering a safe environment for all its users, the University’s Estates Directorate commissioned a comprehensive review of health and safety working practices. This was supported by targeted training, to enhance compliance, safety behaviour and leadership.
University of Birmingham
Established by Queen Victoria by Royal Charter in 1900, the University of Birmingham was the UK’s first civic or ‘redbrick’ university. Today the University attracts students and staff from 150 different countries and has nationally acclaimed research programmes in disciplines as diverse as Cancer Studies and Music. An independent review of health, safety and statutory technical compliance performance within the Estates function was required to identify any gaps or risks of non-compliance. Resolutions were then identified and a programme of training implemented, designed to improve compliance and enhance safety behaviour and leadership.
- The University’s governance structure and hierarchy of policy documentation was reviewed to validate that the Estates team was discharging its internal obligations.
- Existing systems and recent audits were examined with the Estates Health & Safety team to sense check their ease of use and robustness.
- A detailed assessment was undertaken of working practices associated with a range of Estates services including the management of fire, asbestos, water hygiene, pressure systems, electrical testing, gas systems, boilers, chillers, lifting equipment and air conditioning.
- Data capture and storage procedures for compliance records were reviewed and updated.
- Key findings from insurance and accident reports for the preceding three years were examined to identify any clear themes.
- Behaviours and approaches to Health & Safety were analysed for a range of facilities, management teams and projects including the University’s CHP facility, capital projects, hard and soft FM teams and third party contractors.
- Risk weighted recommendations were presented to the Estates senior management team to improve culture, processes and performance.
Targeted Health and Safety Training Programme
A training programme was designed and delivered for all Estates staff that:
- made real the personal impact behind accident statistics
- reinforced personal obligations, roles and responsibilities
- reminded staff of the rules and procedures for safe working at the University
- communicated the lessons learnt from any recent near misses and accidents
- gained personal commitment from attendees to take specific action on returning to the workplace after the training course.
- Governance structure and policy documentation reviewed to validate that internal obligations were being discharged correctly and any key weaknesses identified.
- Systems and approaches sense checked and ideas generated to improve the performance and use of existing Health & Safety tools.
- Improvements identified for technical compliance data capture and storage.
- Practical suggestions to improve culture and performance gained from 360o reviews with capital, operational, technical, energy and safety teams.
- Personal attitudes to safety improved through Health & Safety behaviour and leadership training for over 180 Estates staff.
Challenges and Achievements
Responding to changing demands
The ever-changing nature of health, safety and technical compliance requirements means that periodic reviews of performance are essential. The independent assessment undertaken by LCMB was ideal in achieving a subjective understanding of the current state of play, followed by the development of jointly conceived solutions and bespoke training to plug gaps and enhance performance.
Health & Safety training that makes a personal impact
Changing organisational culture and personal behaviours in the work place can be challenging, particularly where the subject matter is detailed and technical. The training was therefore crafted to address the specific requirements of the University of Birmingham and designed to create a lasting, personal impression upon staff members. Feedback from the course: “It made me think about Health & Safety on a different level” “a different and thought provoking approach to Health & Safety” “very powerful…extremely thought provoking”
It was important to the University of Birmingham that the review was technically robust and fully engaged their staff. Our team worked with them to plan the review and ensure learning points were identified throughout the review process. The behavioural leadership programme delivered by the LCMB team was rated as excellent and very well received by their staff.”
John O’Brien, Founder and MD, LCMB
Find out more
LCMB improves the financial and environmental sustainability of buildings and estates, and the productivity and well-being of the people using them. We do this by reducing building operating costs, energy used and improving building space and its’ utilisation. We offer Workplace Performance, Facilities Management, Project Management and Resource optimisation support.
Amongst others our clients include King’s College London, Birmingham Airport, Tata Technologies, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Bouygues Energies & Services.