Safety rules for laboratories where there is a risk of chemical exposure

1. Introduction

Laboratories using chemicals are often hazardous workplaces and to contribute to the overall safety in these areas it is necessary to identify basic rules that are appropriate to the level of risk.  Buildings are often named as laboratories, eg Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory, but it is not intended that this Policy will apply to the whole area, only to specific laboratories where chemical exposure is likely.

For work with ionising radiation, departmental and local rules must be followed.  There are also rules for work in laboratories carrying out biological work and these are detailed in University Policy Statement S5/09. In each laboratory with risk of chemical exposure, safety rules must be drawn up and clearly displayed for workers to see.

2. Sample laboratory rules

These rules must include, and should be in a format similar to the following:

LABORATORY SAFETY RULES

  • Only authorised persons may enter and/or work in the laboratory.
  • Laboratory coats must be worn.  Sensible footwear must be worn, eg open sandals are not sensible.
  • Eating, drinking, smoking, mouth pipetting and applying make-up is forbidden.
  • No storing of food or drink for human consumption is allowed.
  • All work must be carried out in accordance with risk assessment.
  • All waste must be disposed of in accordance with University policy.
  • All accidents and dangerous occurrences must be reported and recorded on an accident report form.

3. Additional requirements

Many laboratories may also need to identify that:

  • Eye protection must be worn.

All additional rules added to the prescribed ones should be clear, direct and as positive as possible.

The list of rules must be signed by the head of department or the research group leader and dated.

Rules should be reviewed annually.

To ensure that the basic standards of safety remain high and that the rules command respect, they must be enforced by line managers.

This Policy and the laboratory rules should be explained to laboratory personnel before first display and to new employees and others (eg postgraduates and undergraduates) before they begin practical work.

THIS STATEMENT FORMS PART OF THE UNIVERSITY SAFETY POLICY.  UNIVERSITY GUIDANCE NOTE S4/82 IS WITHDRAWN.  PLEASE AMEND THE INDEX.

February 2001