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Durham University

Learning and Teaching Handbook

3.7.3 Placement learning - health and safety and insurance issues

Structure of placements

1. Detailed guidance on health and safety matters should be sought from the University's Health and Safety Service and on insurance from the Procurement Service. For overseas placements see also the section of the International Office website relevant to the particular type of placement.

Health and Safety

2. The University has to be able to demonstrate that it has taken reasonable steps to ensure the health and safety of its students while on placement. In the case of UK placement providers this involves ensuring that providers are covered by, and comply with, national health and safety guidelines (using the form in Section F7 Appendix 1a of the Health and Safety Manual - see below under Insurance). Departments operating work place-based placements must comply with the Health and Safety Service guidelines in addition to noting the points in the guidelines below. The University must not approve placements which it has reason to believe are unreasonably hazardous (e.g. involving working at a height or with heavy machinery). Where a student arranges his/her own placement the student must take responsibility for assessing the level of risk involved and passing information to the department. If in doubt about any particular arrangement the department concerned should consult the Chair of the relevant Faculty Education Committee.

3. You must therefore:

a. ensure that overseas locations are offered to students with due regard for FCO guidelines on the safety of travellers and residents in specific countries abroad;

b. ensure that, where the nature of work carries particular identified risks, appropriate precautions are taken. Contact the Health and Safety Service for guidance;

c. give students going abroad advice about personal safety in the context of the country to which they will travel;

d. make students aware of their responsibility for their own health and safety and that of others during the placement. See also Appendix (A3.09);

e. where students are to arrange their own accommodation, give them reasonable advice about this and ensure that they understand their own responsibility for their safety while on placement. In some cases the International Office may be able to advise. See also Appendix (A3.09);

f. ensure that students understand the insurance arrangements under which they are undertaking the placement and have taken out appropriate personal insurance where required. See also Appendix (A3.09) and the section below on insurance;

g. remind students to seek medical advice about vaccinations for placements abroad;

h. remind students with on-going medical conditions to take advice from their GP and insurance company to ensure that they have the necessary cover;

i. provide emergency contacts for students with staff at Durham and if possible in the host location, and ensure that any supervisors or named contacts in the host organisation also have Durham contact details;

j. ensure that health and safety issues are covered in discussion with the students and placement providers during any pastoral visits made to the students on placement;

k. ensure that health and safety issues are included in student feedback on the placement - within questionnaires and in debriefing sessions;

l. ensure that any issues raised are discussed with the placement provider through any agreed procedures for the review of the placement scheme or if necessary as a matter of urgency outside the review process. Such discussions must be documented. If necessary a placement location where reasonable health and safety cannot be guaranteed must be withdrawn. In extreme cases students should be brought home from the placement location.


4. The University has a duty of care to ensure as far as possible the safety of students during placement activity. Details of the University's requirements with regard to insurance are available on the Procurement Service website. Departments operating placements must familiarise themselves with the provisions associated with this form. For further information contact the Procurement Service staff.

5. The essential points to note are:

a. University travel cover applies to students during placements abroad and in the UK subject to the following criteria:

i. The placement must involve travel outside the student's Country of Domicile or within the Country of Domicile if the placement involves obtaining overnight accommodation away from their normal place of residence.

ii. The University travel cover will apply from the start date of a placement till the end date of the placement where cover has been confirmed by the Insurance Office. The student will also be covered for the journey to the placement and the return journey from the placement provided that the length of time before and after the placement does not exceed 7 days in total. If the student will be spending time abroad before the placement starts of after the placement ends that exceeds 7 days in total the student can arrange cover for these periods by accessing the following link. The student must check the policy wording first to ensure it meets his/her requirements:

iii. Please note that the start date of the placement is the first day of term or the first day of the work placement and similarly the end of the placement is the last day of the last term abroad or the last working day. If a student is doing placements at more than one university or workplace then please see below.

iv. If a student is travelling abroad without a placement being arranged then the University travel cover will NOT apply and the student must take out separate travel insurance cover. Once a placement is arranged the dates and details of the placement must be communicated to the Insurance Officer by completing the Student Placement Agreement. The University travel cover will only apply once this has been confirmed by the Insurance Officer.

v. Where several placements abroad may be undertaken without returning to the UK the University travel cover will not apply to the period between the last day of one placement and the first day of the next placement and separate travel insurance must be effected for the intervening period.

vi. The University does not provide any cover for any dangerous or hazardous activities or sports and students must make their own isurance arrangements for any such activities or sports.  Hazardous activities and sports are defined int he Insurance Service website at :

viii. The University travel cover does not apply for placements within the student's Country of Domicile unless they involve the student obtaining accommodation away from their usual place of residence, but medical expenses in the UK and the Country of Domicile are not covered. For placements in the student'sCountry of Domicile where the student is not obtaining accommodation away from their normal place of residence, be it Durham University or their family home, the Student Placement Agreement should be used to cover the learning outcomes and the student's responsibilities but it need not be sent to the University's Insurance Office unless travel is to a High risk area in which case the form should still be sent to the Insurance Office to enable authorisation to be considered.

b. If the host organisation has completed the form in Section F7 Appendix 1a of the Health and Safety Manual in respect of each student undertaking the placement, then the host organisation is responsible for students' health and safety with respect to the activities which the host organisation provides under the placement agreement but the placement provider should still be asked to confirm whether Employers Liability and Public Liability cover is held (or the overseas equivalent of these covers) and that their insurances will cover any liability incurred by a placement student as a result of his/her duties on the placement;

c. If the host organisation has not completed the form in Section F7 Appendix 1a of the Health and Safety Manual (e.g. because it is an overseas organisation not subject to UK law or perhaps a government department or local council which has different ways of operating) then no such responsibility has been accepted;

d. Students receive the standard University cover as detailed in the University's Travel Summary sheet obtainable from the Procurement Service or from the website at;

e. Students are responsible for their own insurance for any periods not covered by the University travel cover as outlined above or for hazardous sports.

6. Departments must either obtain completion of the form in Section F7 Appendix 1a of the Health and Safety Manual on behalf of each student or note in their records that Form A has not been accepted by the placement provider. If the placement provider will not insure our student, the student's academic department need to make a decision on whether the placement should proceed taking into account the likelihood of injury to the student and the availability of other suitable placements

7. Departments must:

a. obtain authorisation from the Insurance Manager or Insurance Assistant in the Procurement Service for each student travelling to a placement except for placements within the student's Country of Domicile where the student is not obtaining accommodation away from their normal place of residence. This should be done by copying the Student Placement Agreement to the Insurance Office at least one month in advance of travel for insurance cover to be confirmed. Where the risk is regarded as problematic the Insurance Office will consult with the Academic Registrar before deciding whether to approve the placement. Where travel is envisaged to an area of medium or high risk you should consult the Insurance Office before booking any travel or accommodation;

b. inform students that they remain responsible for insurance for periods not covered by the University travel cover as outlined above and any hazardous activities;

c. provide students with a copy of the University's Travel Summary sheet obtainable from the Procurement Service or from the website at