Health and Safety

Your responsibilities

Activity providers have a duty of care towards participants and are responsible for ensuring their safety and wellbeing:

  • The exec of a student group are accountable for the activities provided by the group;
    • Poor health and safety will endanger participants and potentially harm the reputation of the student group, Students’ Union and the University.
  • Participants should be made aware of any risks involved in activities provided by the group;
    • Risks may vary for different people, depending on medical conditions, age etc.
  • You are responsible for the impact of your activities on non-participants and the surrounding environment
  • Regular/repeated events require only one initial risk assessment at the beginning of each academic year.
  • Overnight trips and activities with organised transport require a trip form.
  • Events with guest speakers require a guest speaker form;
    • Controversial speakers are allowed as long as it has been cleared with the Students’ Union and University Security.

You should ensure you are familiar with the risk management processes before organising activities and events. Everything you need can be found in this section. Please get in touch if you have any queries:


Safeguarding Training

Safeguarding training is availble online via DUO here:

Risk assessments

A risk assessment form should be completed for every different activity a student group organises (the example below can be referred to for guidance - please consider the matrix of risk and base your assessments on this).

Generic risk assessments can be produced (and tweaked when necessary if the activity, venue or people who take part change), please fill in a risk assessment form for any one-off activities or events you organise, for example ball, conference or tournament, that does not involve organised transport. A risk assessment form must be completed and returned at least 14 days before the activity or event.

Events with alcohol

You cannot provide over 3 units of alcohol as part of the ticket price. Groups can provide more than 3 units however; this must be done as a separate transaction to the ticket (e.g. allowing students to buy drinks vouchers in line with suggested acceptable limits)​

The below table is a guide on what are acceptable amounts. This is a guide only and presumes that there is an acceptable monitoring process in place. Any event without an acceptable process would not be approved.


No Food


3 Course Meal

1 hour




3 hours




5 hours +




No – nobody can sell alcohol without a Personal Licence qualification, and additionally be authorised by the licensed premises that the event is being held at.

There must always be a non-alcoholic alternative when alcohol is provided as part of a ticket. This enables those who do not wish to drink alcohol an alternative, and reduces the risk of ‘spare’ alcoholic drinks being consumed irresponsibly.

Student group execs also have a duty to promote responsible drinking. E.g. water should always be available and food is encouraged. All events must be inclusive and prevent members feel pressurised to drink alcohol.

We would always encourage you to hold your event in licensed premises. This then ensures that trained staff are serving drinks and making decisions on whether to continue service. The responsibility for the members of the group in the premises lies with the Personal Licence holder of that premise.

No event should provide over 12 units. This doesn’t mean that students can’t drink more than that.

They are still entitled to go to a bar and buy a drink if they are deemed not too drunk by bar staff.

We would suggest a token system or stamp card. This must be detailed in your Risk Assessment and an allocation of how the alcohol will be distributed will need to be provided. (N.B. Having a help yourself system is not acceptable as if you are providing 12 units per person, person A could have 3 units and person B could have 21].

Vulnerable people and under 18s participating in events

We want to ensure that everyone feels comfortable and safe whilst partaking in student activities.

A few key things you should take note of are:

  • 16-18 year olds can participate (as a member) in student group activities with permission from a parent or guardian;
    • Under 18s cannot join alcohol appreciation or gambling societies.
    • If on admission to the University a student is younger than 18 years of age, written consent from the student's parents/guardians is obtained by their college. This consent includes the following wording:
      "Durham University provides an excellent environment in which students can both engage in academic studies at an advanced level and develop personal and related skills through social and other extra curricula activities. The University community is however, an adult community and, as such, the University does not, for example, undertake criminal record checks on its academic teaching staff or the pastoral staff working in colleges or central services. In addition, the University is not in loco parentis for those students who are under 18 and are living away from their home; at all times the student’s parents or legal guardians remain primarily responsible for the welfare of their child."
  • Members who work with vulnerable people regularly should have and in-date DBS (Disclosure Barring Service);
    • Vulnerable people are considered to be children and adults with disabilities that prevent them from taking care of themselves.

If anyone under 16 years old wishes to take join your student group or participate in a student group's activities, please let us know.

Food safety

If you are supply food at any activity (free or paid-for), you should read this guidance.

Insurance cover

All student groups registered with the Students’ Union are covered by the Union’s insurance, as long as risk assessment is submitted and accepted by Union staff: You can view the document here.

  • Insurance covers most activities that take place within the UK;
    • Extreme sports and highly risky activities may require extra insurance e.g.. hitchhiking – please check with Union staff.
    • Trips abroad require appropriate insurance (can be purchased as a group or individually).
  • Equipment is only covered if details are provided during re-registration.
  • Activity leaders should hold any qualifications required.
  • External activity providers should have their own insurance cover.

Please direct any insurance queries to