Health and Safety

Health and Safety


Health and Safety

Under Health and Safety legislation when you are carrying out research or associated study activities as a postgraduate researcher (PGR), you are required to follow your University/Institution health and safety policies, standards & guidance. All doctoral students receive an induction when they start at their institution. As part of this, departments are responsible for explaining the arrangements that they have in place to manage health and safety.

Disability Service

If you have a long-term health condition or disability or have concerns about your mental health that could affect your ability to carry out your research or studies, or which requires additional support in order to secure your health and safety, you should discuss this with the Disability Services at your Institution. They can provide advice and guidance on how the Institution can make reasonable adjustments to support you.

Extra support

It is important to recognise that research and fieldwork activities can be stressful for a variety of reasons and can therefore raise potential mental health and wellbeing risks. Issues can arises as a result of the subject matter or the location in which you are working. Should you have any such concerns, we strongly recommend that you contact you Institutional Wellbeing Services for Advice.

Risk Assessments

Health and safety risk assessments should be undertaken to ensure compliance with all health and safety obligations, and to choose and validate the institutional insurance for this work. This includes any reasonable adjustments that help to ensure the health and safety of those with disabilities or long-term health conditions. If you are involved in carrying out research tasks, then you should be actively involved in the risk assessment process and be familiar with the significant findings of the risk assessments for the work that you will be doing and the control measures that you will need to follow. Whenever you are assessing risk, it is important to remember that risks may be more than physical, and that psychological risks may also apply.

Travelling during your PhD

Safety is paramount

PGRs should not make decisions/bookings that compromise their safety when travelling.  If for any reason a higher cost solution is required to ensure safety then this decision should be made with an appropriate annotation to the expense claim.

Risk Assessments

ARIES mandatory cohort training events are subject to a central risk assessment, but it is your responsibility to carry out a risk assessment to cover your travel to and from the event. You are also responsible for carrying out a risk assessment for any other travel you undertake as part of your PhD, including regular travel to fieldwork or other places of work. Your University will likely have forms to enable you to do this.

Download useful apps on your phone

For an extra level of security, there are plenty of useful apps you can download onto your phone to keep you safe. It is likely that your University and/or host institution have chosen apps for use in these situations so you should refer to their policies.  Some of the apps include:

  • Circle of 6: two taps let your circle of friends know where you are and how they can help
  • Guardly: safety app to connect to security, public authorities and list of emergency contacts
  • StreetSafe: accurately lets your friends and family locate you on a map in real-time updates
  • Kitestring: the app will send you a text message at the pre-organised time


If you are planning to get the bus home at night, always check the times of the last bus to your stop.


Always carry the phone number of a trusted, licensed taxi or minicab company with you. Never take an unlicensed taxi or mini–cab.


If you are planning to get home at night using the train, always check the times of the last train to your station. You can use the National Rail Enquiries journey planner.

Overseas Travel

You should ensure that your passport and visas are valid for duration of the trip. You should consult the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website which is regularly updated and has comprehensive information on all countries, including advice on the current political situation, and warnings of unrest and crime blackspots. It also gives travellers’ tips and information on vaccinations.

Vaccinations against infectious disease are a major part of this protection and you should consult a travel clinic to discuss your travel plans and what immunisations you will need. Many need to be given weeks or even months before you depart, so don’t leave it too late.

Working Away from your Usual Institution


As a PGR you may work away from your Institution in the UK or overseas. This might include carrying out fieldwork, going on placement or making institutional visits.

Whilst it is the responsibility of your Institution and supervisor to provide you with all practical and reasonable means of support to minimize any risks whilst you are away, it is also your responsibility to minimize your own exposure to danger when working off-campus and make sure that you are well prepared for your trip.

Depending on where you are going and for how long, you should discuss with your supervisor(s) the frequency and method of your supervision before you leave. This is in order for you to be able to continue discussing your research and so that you may report any issues you may have. Supervisors also have responsibilities to make sure their students are engaging with their study safely. It is likely that your University and/or host institution will have policies about this and you should refer to these.

If you are away on fieldwork or data collection, please report to your supervisor(s) at least fortnightly on issues including:

  • the progress of your research
  • further plans for your fieldwork
  • health and safety conditions
  • any emergencies that have occurred and any further potential risks
  • any changes in your health
  • your date of return to the UK

If you are going to be spending a significant time overseas, you may find it useful to consult with your Supervisor(s), academics and other students who have working or living experiences in the same or similar destination. Cultures can vary largely and what you might have taken for granted, might be unusual or even unacceptable in other countries. It is therefore important to develop an awareness of traditions, customs and taboos in the area where you are going before you leave.


You should try to secure your accommodation before you embark on any off-campus work that requires you to relocate or temporarily relocate. It is your responsibility to find suitable accommodation for your trip.

Students holding a Tier 4 visa

If you are a Tier 4 visa holder and are away from your University, the responsibilities of your University as your Tier 4 sponsor remain the same. Your responsibilities to comply with the conditions of your Tier 4 visa and to inform your University of any changes also remain the same.

Support for students with disabilities

Having disabilities may add additional risks to your off-campus activities. If you have a disability, impairment, long-term health condition or specific learning difficulty, you should consult with the Disability Service to make sure you will be able to access disability support when you are away.

Your Wellbeing

You may face distressing or isolating situations when working off-campus so do remember that you can still access your University support services.

Sickness and sickness reporting

If you become ill while away from your institution, it is important that you are sure how to access medical care as soon as possible. It is also important to inform your supervisor(s) of your health condition so they can support you.