Essential Services Failure - Callaghan Campus and Newcastle CBD Procedure

Document Number000118

The safe and healthy operation of the University campuses is dependent upon the maintenance of essential services to campuses and other sites, including power, (electricity and gas) and water/sewerage. The maintenance of these services is not problematic as recurrent maintenance, planned upgrades and commitment by the providers of the services ensures continuity under normal circumstances.

However provision of services is capable of interruption, and such interruption has occurred in the past. The degree of interruption will vary according to the severity of the cause. In determining procedures to deal with such a situation, the following principles are recognised and the procedures are predicated on those principles.


The role of Facilities Management (FM) in such incidents is to ensure rapid dissemination of information about what the difficulty is and likely time scale in regard to rectification. FM officers have no authority to direct other University staff about continuing attendance at their place of work, except in extreme emergency situations where, for example, immediate evacuation of a building is necessary.



The decision about whether staff ought to be sent home on the grounds that a work situation becomes unsatisfactory from a health/safety point of view is one that rests with the Vice President, University Services.



The existence of a formal organisation structure that provides a formal communication channel to ensure all affected staff are properly advised is the responsibility of the Vice President, University Services.



As a part of the establishment of these emergency procedures all staff should understand that the source of information in relation to building services and other problems that might impact health and safety is via their supervisor, so that the formal chain of command is utilised. If a supervisor is unaware, that supervisor ought to contact his/her supervisor up the line until information is available, which information is then conveyed back down the chain of command.

The following procedures will apply in the event of an unplanned and unforeseen disruption to essential services.


Officers of Facilities Management are responsible for assessing the extent of the emergency situation, in terms of:

  • what ought to be done immediately to protect health and safety (in consultation with the Executive Director, Human Resource Services);
  • a time frame for taking further decisions in relation to health and safety if immediate action is not necessary;
  • assessment of the problem in terms of rectification; and
  • dissemination of information via the voicemail as to the nature of the problem and the time frame for rectification.

In particular, office staff of Facilities Management will be briefed so as to be able to respond to enquiries.


The Executive Director, Facilities Management or nominee will inform and advise the Vice President, University Services and provide any information sought in regard to:

  • the nature of the problem
  • rectification prognosis;
  • likely impact on matters to do with health and safety; and
  • if required, provide recommendation(s).

The Executive Director, Facilities Management will also inform the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the problem and steps in progress to protect the Campus and staff/students/visitors.


The Vice President, University Services will decide whether a building(s) is be evacuated and for what period. This information will be conveyed to the Executive Director, Facilities Management or nominee for relaying via the voicemail system, as well as setting in train directions to all affected staff via the formal channels of communication, ie the formal organisation structure.

All enquiries in relation to this procedure should be referred to the Executive Director.

Approval AuthorityDeputy Vice-Chancellor (Services)
Policy SponsorDeputy Vice-Chancellor (Services)
Policy OwnerDirector, Facilities Management
Policy ContactAssociate Director, Operations