Health and Safety Update 10.06.2020

Dear Members,

Quite a lot has happened in the field of Health and Safety and we felt it would be helpful to have a summary of these in one place. This also flags what to do to access support from college and what we are doing to campaign for development of Health & Safety support in these unique and challenging times.  Please click on blue links for all online documents – you may find these useful to guide discussion in upcoming department meetings.  Health & Safety affects all colleagues, both members and non-members, so please share widely.

As a priority, please complete the Quick survey: 4 questions, 1 minute, a brief survey about workload.  Statistical data is extremely useful to us in order to present clear robust cases, and  we encourage you to share with all colleagues, both academic and professional, GUCU members and non-members.

  1. Head of Health and Safety

We now have an interim Head of Health and Safety. He is Wesley Mason and can be emailed directly on

  1. Weekly H&S Meetings

Weekly Health & Safety subgroup meetings have been taking place since May, with Helen Watson, Unison & SU representatives and the H&S representatives.

  1. Workload/H&S Survey

Thanks to those of you who completed the GUCU pilot survey in April 2020, in which  74% of 300 respondents indicated that they were working hours in excess of their extant contract.  As a result, we have secured an agreement to consult on a workload and work-related stress survey to be sent out college wide, using the HSE management standards. The Wellbeing team have been looking at it and we are working in partnership on the document which is due to be circulated shortly.   Watch this space!

  1. Health and Safety Training

If you are requiring Health and Safety support because you are suffering physically by working from home, say, requiring a proper office chair or other equipment, you need to complete the DSE Workstation Training and Assessment Module which was sent out last term. (This was not clearly signposted by College when first introduced, so appeared to be possible spam and many deleted it.)

You may be asked to change your password before you can use it. This is simply to set up a password for Awaken-be and is not connected to your Goldsmiths password. 

When you log in you will see all three training modules – Fire Awareness training, Coronavirus Safety at Home and Display Screen Equipment Workstation Training and Assessment.

At the end there is a checklist for you to go through to see if you need help in your situation, and this will then raise any concerns with the Health & Safety team, as the first stage of a six stage process.

As this is how Health & Safety support is accessed and monitored by College, we urge all colleagues to complete this training and assessment – you can also email any feedback to us. Your online training courses can be found here:

  1. Mental Health

We are aware of growing stress and anxiety due to working in challenging circumstances at home coupled often with additional concerns regarding job security. We hope to capture some of this in the planned College-wide survey.  We are also looking into crystallising a clear pathway through to Health and Safety for these matters, with resources for mental health specifically, and a more robust risk assessment and support system.

If you have concerns about your mental health you are advised to seek medical advice from your GP.  Free counselling and support is also available via Workplace Options

  1. Caring Responsibilities 

We recognise that more than 40% of those who filled out our last H&S survey have caring responsibilities, with few examples of workload reduction. Carer groups are being set up in a number of departments to register their needs with HoDs and SMT. Anyone who has made a claim for reduced hours, furlough, parental leave or other accommodations on the basis of care responsibilities,  we ask that you please fill out this chart so that we can track experiences and results across the college.

Please see the workload meeting checklist  (also below, point 9) on how to ask questions related to care responsibilities when planning workload for next year.

If you would like to set up a carers group in your department or connect with other departmental care groups please email 

  1.   4 questions to ask your Line Manager

Department reps have been asked to work with members to ask Heads of Department about the return to work.  One major area of concern for our branch is the prospect that large numbers of our colleagues on fixed-term positions will not have their contracts renewed in the new academic year. Colleagues on hourly paid contracts, including ALs & GTTs, also face a reduction or loss of teaching hours. This will not just affect casual staff. It will push higher and/or suddenly changed workloads onto permanent staff, and this risks harming our health and safety, our mental health, equalities, our terms and conditions, and our students. In some cases this has already begun to happen, and members are facing increased and/or drastically changed new teaching allocations as well as a potential reduction in research time.  You may also want to raise these questions with your line manager.

  1. Risk Assessment

A draft Covid-19  risk assessment for return to work has been issued by College, asking HoDs and DBMs to work on a Departmental risk assessment, with support from timetabling and architects. We are working on this with college, and we feel this should not solely be left to individual departments. It is important that HoDs respond to this and, where possible, copy us in on their feedback so that any redraft produces a watertight document, taking into consideration the wide range of Health & Safety concerns (e.g working from home, mental health, workload, caring responsibilities, bereavement etc)   You may find the latest ARPS newsletter and recent guidance from UUK useful for information. As the GUCU Health & Safety team, we are committed to ensure that the Health and Safety of all  (including professional staff, students, cleaners, security) is safeguarded in this process.

  1. Preparing for next year – workload meeting checklist 

We have created a checklist to support discussions about workload planning next year.

We have already asked Department reps to share these with HoDs & line managers to help them audit the ‘workability’ of their staff for next year. This goes hand in hand with work on the risk assessment so please look at these to help you shape any response you are asked for by your HoD or line manager.

If you are waiting too long to hear back from Health & Safety regarding your assessment, or if you have any other concerns regarding Health & Safety, including workload and work-related stress, please email Head of Health & Safety, Wesley Mason (, and copy in and GUCU H&S officers, Anna Grant ( and Amanda Kipling (

If you have any further questions, contact your department rep or get in touch with us directly.

The GUCU Health & Safety team