Deans of Colleges / Heads of Departments

Can I delegate responsibility or accountability?

Nobody can entirely delegate responsibility and can never delegate accountability for health and safety. A duty of care will always remain with you, with your line-manager, the Vice-Chancellor, the University Council and so on. 

You will always have a legal accountability for an activity if it remains within the remit of your College or Department, you cannot hand over complete responsibility to someone else as you are the 'Dean / Head'.  In general, if and when you do delegate 'tasks and duties' you are delegating a level of responsibility but you are also expected to satisfy yourself that those tasks are being performed safely.

Responsibility can be widespread or be easily identifiable to a single person, it very much depends on the circumstances as to where the responsibility lies. But, and it's a significant but, those persons having managerial control over activities will always retain a level of accountability.   

As with everything 'managerial', be they financial controls or the behaviour of your staff, you can be held accountable for your decisions, actions and inactions and you, as the Dean of College / Head of Department, will always be expected to take a lead. But the difference in health and safety is that the law requires it.

Health and safety law is quite clear and it must be remembered that health and safety law is criminal law.