Imperial College London

Imperial staff recognised for health and safety excellence


Ian congratulating  the Hackspace team

Provost Ian Walmsley hosted the 2023 health and safety awards last week.

This year saw three winners in total for the Provost’s Awards for Excellence in Health and Safety – one individual and two teams – all of whom exhibited an outstanding dedication to providing a safe environment for all at Imperial.  

Excellence in this area – in an environment as complex as Imperial – requires us all to work together Ian Walmsley Provost

At the awards ceremony, Professor Ian Walmsley said: “Today is an important event to mark the contribution of our committed health and safety professionals, as well as our colleagues who have gone above and beyond in their commitment to the safety and wellbeing of others. Excellence in this area – in an environment as complex as Imperial - requires us all to work together, and so it is pleasing to see colleagues from across the College here today.” 

Improving fire safety 

LucyLucy Cowell, a Fire Safety Advisor in the Estates division, was the winner of the Individual Award for her work which significantly improved fire safety awareness and risk assessment. Lucy developed a new Fire Risk Assessment document to reflect legislative changes and became an accredited fire risk assessor in the process, developing an innovative approach to promoting fire safety across the College. 

Lucy said: “It was a lovely surprise and certainly not expected. I have only been with the College for a year and at times struggle with imposter syndrome. Winning this award was a great confidence booster telling me that I am doing okay.?

"Earlier in the day I had been interviewed for a promotional diversity in the workplace video, which will be aimed at the fire industry, so all in all I had one of those really great days at work and went home with a grin on my face.” 

Working with lasers 

Dr Sunil Kumar, a Research Fellow, and Dr Hughda Sparks, Research Associate based in the Department of Physics received a Team Award for their work on laser safety. They eliminated almost all instances of working with open laser beams above the maximum permissible exposure in their biophotonics laboratory and implemented closed shielding for remote control laser experiments. 

“I helped to revise and improve the training course and worked on an extension task exploring the remote control of beam steering mirrors,” said Hugh. “Remote control and monitoring of beams limits the risk of accidental exposure and can also allow for automating processes such as closed-loop beam alignment and drift correction." Sunil reflected: “I am grateful for the recognition that this reward brings to the work that has been done by a lot of people within the department and faculty to make safety considerations simpler to handle and more flexible, as well as improving the practical laser safety training that goes on in the faculty.  

Tracking training and access 

HackspaceThe second team award went to the Advanced Hackspace team from the Enterprise division. Based at the White City Campus, the Advanced Hackspace, a workshop and lab for staff and students to create and socialise. 

The creation of the system was led by Hack Fellow, David Pitcher, who spent much of his own time working on the development and implementation of the programme. 

David said: "After years of hard work, it is great to receive recognition for the efforts of the Hackspace team in creating our award-winning safety system. This demonstrates our dedication to maintaining a safe working environment for our members and Hackspace ingenuity and resourcefulness in overcoming complex problems with limited resources."




Siobhan Lewis

Siobhan Lewis
Office of the Provost


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