Chemical Safety (Revised)
A huge variety of chemicals are used in research, teaching and other activities across the University of Glasgow every day and in almost every case some safety hazards will be associated with each substance even common substances such as cleaning chemicals have the potential to cause injury or illness if not handled appropriately. To ensure that chemicals are managed safely and that we comply with the relevant legislation there is a requirement for robust chemical management systems to be implemented to ensure that the risks associated with chemicals are minimised and that staff, students and visitors are made aware of both the potential hazards they might encounter and the control measures put in place for their safety.
Where there is a requirement for chemicals to be used, the correct storage, handling facilities and control measures (including the required personal protective equipment) must be in place. The use of any hazardous substance shuold be subject to a risk assessment in accordance with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (CoSHH) Regulations 2002 and appropriate procedures for the use of the substance(s) and disposal arrangements for waste and/or obsolete material should be in place before any work in undertaken. All staff and students who are required to handle chemicals should have been provided with adequate information, training and supervision to allow them to work safely and special arrangements for vulnerable workers (e.g. young people, pregnant women etc.) should have been considered.
The management of chemicals and related equipment is controlled by a series of regulations and licensing agreement all of which must be complied with if we are to work safely and within the law. A summary of each of the key regulations is included below for convenience.
Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (CoSHH)
The CoSHH regulations forms the cornerstone of chemical safety regulations in the UK. Like most health and safety legislation prior risk assessment is the key to compliance with the regulations with an emphasis on identifying the hazards associated with chemicals and taking steps to reduce the likelihood of peopel being exposed to them in accordance with a hierarchy of risk control. The regulations are supported with an approved code of practice and other guidance documents which are freely available from the HSE.
Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmosphere Regulations 2002 (DSEAR)
Where flammable gases, liquids and solids, combustible dusts or explosive substances are used in sufficient quantities that an explosive atmosphere may develop specific safety procedures and control measures are likely to be required to control the risk of a fire or explosion. The DSEAR regulations outline the requirements for managing this hazard centering once again on the need for prior risk assessment before any work is carried out. The regulations and supporting guidance can be accessed using the following links:
The Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000 (PSSR)
Where pressurised systems are in use the owners and users of such systems are required to demonstrate that such systems are safe under the conditions of use and are regularly inspected to ensure that they are in good working order. Users of such systems should have a knowledge of the safe operating limits of such equipment including maximum operating pressures and temperature and should clearly understand how to operate pressure systems safely and take appropriate actions in the event of a fault or failure of the system.
Dr Philip Rodger
Chemical Safety Adviser, University of Glasgow
T: 0141 3302799