Job hazard information for new roles

Legal context

The Equality Act 2010 limits the circumstances when health-related questions can be asked before a job offer is made. Health-related questions can be asked to:

Once a job offer has been made, appropriate health-related questions can be asked, provided that they are linked to the job requirements.  In limited circumstances, this may include making conditional offers subject to satisfactory health checks.  It should be noted that it is no longer permissible to ask questions that aim to establish how many days of sickness absence an applicant has accrued during previous employment prior to the candidate being made a conditional or unconditional offer of work.  This question must not be included on any application forms, or addressed at interview.

Changes to University practice

Inclusion of hazard descriptors in job descriptions

It is necessary for managers to include descriptors arising from any hazards intrinsic to the requirements of the role in the job description.   As a result job descriptions will need to be more specific about detailing hazards which may affect an individual’s existing health condition/disability or that has the potential of causing a new health conditions/disability.  Generic job descriptions that have already been developed for particular roles should be reviewed as posts are advertised to ensure that job descriptors associated with hazards are included.

A method to enable you to detail any specific requirements in job descriptions is to carry out an assessment of any hazards of the role. You will already have risk assessments for any activities carried out by the post holder (unless the job to be advertised is a completely new role). These risk assessments will outline any job hazards in the role or the workplace that may affect an individual’s existing health condition/disability or that has the potential of causing a new health conditions/disability.  The following table outlines possible example of job hazards, the list is not exhaustive so must be used as a general guide:

Job Element Possible Descriptors for inclusion in Job Description

Work with animals or insects

  • Preparing equipment, food and bedding for cleaning and sterilisation to be used within the animal facility.
  • This role will involve the use of measures to control your exposure to known allergens
  • Health surveillance will be a requirement of this role.
Clinical patient contact
  • This role will involve the use of measures to control your exposure to known infectious diseases.
  • This role may exposure you to possible skin irritants.
  • This role will involve the individual carrying out exposure prone procedures which may expose the individual to blood borne viruses.
  • There is a requirement to complete a course of immunisations.
Driving
  • This role involves the post holder driving for more than 3 hours a day.
  • Ability to drive a multi-passenger vehicle safely and appropriately, including ability to read and interpret road signs
  • The role will involve picking, loading and stocking of warehouse using a forklift truck.
  • Must be experienced and used to dealing with high volume, fast moving stock.
Working at height / confined spaces
  • The post holder will be required to wear breathing apparatus for intensive short periods throughout the working day.
  • This role involves the need to work off scaffolding and therefore the post holder must have the ability to work at height.
  • The individual must have a level of physical fitness to enable them to carry out regular daily lifting of objects weighing greater than 25kg.
Computer work
  • The data entry worker will be employed full time inputting text using dedicated display screen equipment.
  • This role is in a fast paced environment that requires fast and accurate data entry.
  • There is a high visual and mental workload. Colour systems critical.
  • Display screen work either intensive throughout the day on most days, or more intermittent but still forming at least half of the roles total working time.
Night Work / Shift Work
  • This role involves shift patterns that will vary each week.
  • The shift patterns will involve 1 week in 4 a night shift. Rotating shift over a 24 hour, 365 day a year pattern, including bank holidays.

Exposure to agents identified by a control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH) assessment

  • This role will involve the use of measures to control your exposure to known respiratory sensitisers or occupational asthmagens
  • This role involves the handling of known mutagens and teratogens.
  • This role will involve the use of measures to control your exposure to known allergens.
Use of hand-held power tools
  • The individual must have a level of physical fitness to enable them to carry out regular daily lifting of objects weighing greater than 25kg.
  • This role involves the post holder using hand-held power tools everyday for significant periods of time. Break periods will be scheduled into the working day.
Working in noisy environments
  • This role involves working in a research laboratory which is a noise control area which involves the post holder wearing hearing protectors for considerable periods during the working day.

Outdoor work

  • This role requires the post holder to work outside in all seasons of the year.
  • Ability to perform tasks of a physical nature (often demanding), including lifting and kneeling; and to work outdoors in a variety of weather conditions (heat, humidity, cold).
  • This role involves the post holder carrying out patrols on foot during every shift. This will involve walking for 4-5 hours each shift wearing personal protective equipment.

Catering

  • Ability to perform lifting tasks of large food containers on a daily basis.
  • This role may expose you to possible skin irritants.
  • The ability to deal with customers on a daily basis

Lone working

  • This role involves the post holder working from home with limited need to attend meetings at the main office.
  • As a lone worker the individual must follow all relevant control measures and safe systems of work at all times.

Violence at work

  • The ability to deal professionally with victims of crime and individuals in confrontational situations.

Manual Handling

  • The individual must have a level of physical fitness to enable them to carry out regular daily lifting
  • The individual must have a level of physical fitness to enable them to carry out regular daily lifting of objects weighing greater than 25kg.
  • Ability to perform tasks of a physical nature (often demanding) including twisting and stooping.

Travel / Fieldwork

  • This role involves the post holder spending on average 3 months of the year travelling on University business.
  • The ability to perform tasks of a physical nature in remote and often hostile environments.

Other hazards may specifically be outlined in specific regulations for example under the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1985 or under the Diving at Work Regulations 1997.  

Once the job hazards are identified the next step is to know the extent to which the individual will be exposed to the hazard. For example, will the individual be transporting heavy loads across the precinct on a daily basis or very occasionally? This will influence the emphasis placed on the descriptor outlined in the job description.

Once the hazards have been identified and the importance assessed, managers should add the descriptors to the appropriate section in the job description. Descriptors may be added to the statements of responsibilities section, or the person specification section, (essential or desirable) as appropriate.

Contacts

Further information can be obtained from:

For more information on the Equality Act and recruitment please see the Equality and Diversity website