Safety at work

Safety at work

All students should think about their safety whether on placement or not. Much of this advice is common sense, but it can make a difference. Watch our A Guide to Work Placement video for some quick reminders:

Learn more about the risks, responsibilities and how to stay safe whilst on placement 

If you have any questions, contact the Work Experience Team.


Preparation before you go on placement

As part of your preparation for placement, you must complete the mandatory Health & Safety: Professional Preparation for your Placement module and confirm you have completed this as part of your placement approval. If your placement is outside the UK, you should also have completed the abroad section.


You may have already completed the training module as part of a work experience module that includes a short placement – you only need to complete this once initially and every time you need a refresher.


Discussing potential risks pre-placement

Before you go on placement, you must have a conversation with your placement provider about the working environment and potential hazards, the training module can help guide you.


Your Placement Provider should have completed a risk assessment for their workplace, especially in the UK where this is a legal requirement, which your Placement Provider may share with you on request. Otherwise, ask them directly about potential hazards and how they are managed in the workplace. You will need to give some examples to get your placement approved, as this demonstrates to the University that you have an appropriate level of awareness of potential risks before you start your placement.


Your induction to the workplace

As you start your placement, there are some things to take note of such as: the layout of the building, the emergency exit routes and assembly points, the location of telephones, who to contact in case of an emergency, and first aid arrangements.


On your first day, you should ensure that you familiarise yourself with your Placement Provider’s emergency procedures and workplace environment. This is usually covered as part of your induction process.


If at any time you are not satisfied that your health, safety and wellbeing is not adequately protected, you must inform your local supervisor/manager. If the problem is not resolved, you must inform the University as soon as possible by contacting the Work Experience Team. Here are some examples of what to consider and look out for.


Fire & Fire awareness training

Your Placement Provider should describe what you specifically need to do in the event of a fire, including exit routes and assembly points and they may have mandatory training for you to complete – which you must always complete as instructed by your Placement Provider.


Fire doors should always be kept shut. They are designed to withstand fire for 30 minutes. Escape Routes should be always kept clear. Escape routes should also be clearly signed. Fire extinguishers should never be covered up, hidden or tampered with. Extinguishers must never be used as door stops. Do not try to fight a fire unless you have been trained to do so.


Emergency incidents (e.g. Fires)

Each Placement Provider has its own emergency instructions relating to each of their buildings and a notice setting out the procedure to be adopted in case of a fire will be displayed. The instructions should be studied and committed to memory. You will have no time to read them in an emergency.


Accidents, Near misses & First Aid

Your Placement Provider should inform you what to do in the event of an accident or near miss and where to report this, including how to access First Aid in their workplace.


It is a legal requirement in the UK to report accidents in the workplace. If a health and safety incident is not reported then subsequent compensation/benefit claims would be very difficult to justify. The employer’s accident book is a critical piece of evidence and helps to protect the safety of everyone, so make sure you report accidents and near misses to your Placement Provider.


As a student on placement, you must also inform the University by contacting the Work Experience Team and we will update our own records.


Display Screen Equipment

Your Placement Provider will usually conduct a ‘Display Screen Equipment’ (DSE) assessment and provide your with access to training to ensure you are working safely. If your placement includes long periods of working with a PC or other types of DSE equipment, including laptops and tablets, this is an essential part of keeping you free of injuries caused by this type of work, such as repetitive strain injuries.


Precautions in offices

When using office equipment, follow the maker's instructions. Do not leave leads trailing. Filing cabinet drawers should be closed once you've found what you need. Never stand on swivel chairs. Ensure passages and doorways are not obstructed. 


Working from home

If you’re working remotely from home, on a full or a part-time basis, make sure you’re following your Placement Provider’s guidance on safe working at home and our guidance on Virtual Placements.


Lifting and Carrying

If your placement includes some heavy lifting, even if it’s occasionally carrying a box of printer paper from the stationery storage, your Placement Provider should provide you with manual handling training. Ask for help with heavy/bulky loads. Take small loads instead of one big one. Use lifting equipment, if provided and you have been trained to use it safely. 


Working in high-risk environments, e.g. Laboratories, Kitchens, Construction sites

Each of these workplaces involve working with an increased number of potential hazards and are often the most dangerous types of placement. These types of placement will take longer to approve initially and will require you to follow the specific training you received from your course team (e.g. Biosciences and Chemistry courses include the Professional and Scientific Practice module).



Keep up-to-date with your Placement Provider’s policies and procedures, including your responsibilities, in relation to COVID-19. This is particularly if new measures are introduced by local or national governments, as these might need you to take different and immediate actions.