Chemical Safety


A wide variety of chemicals are used every day in research, teaching and other activities across the University of Glasgow.  Even common substances such as cleaning chemicals have the potential to cause injury or illness if not handled appropriately and it is importasnt that hazardous substances are stored, handled and disposed of safely.  To ensure that chemicals are managed  appropriately and that we comply with the relevant legislation there is a requirement for Schools and Management Units to implement robust chemical management systems.  These will help ensure that the risks associated with chemicals are properly recognised and controlled and that staff, students and visitors are made aware of both the potential hazards they might encounter and the  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 put in place.  The use of any hazardous substance should 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 individuals (e.g. young people, pregnant women etc.) should also 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.

To help University staff and students identify and control the risks associated with hazardous substances in the workplace we have developed a series of guidance notes and other supporting documents including risk assessment templates, toolbox talks  and other resources which can be accessed using the links in the sidebar.

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (CoSHH)

The CoSHH regulations form 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.  The regulations place an emphasis on identifying the hazards associated with chemicals and taking steps to reduce the likelihood of people being exposed to them in accordance with a hierarchy of risk control.  The regulations are supported with an Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) and other guidance documents which are  available from the HSE website:

CoSHH Regulations

CoSHH Approved Code of Practice

Step by Step Guide to CoSHH

HSE CoSHH Website

Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres 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 a risk assessment to be completed and control measures implemented before any work is carried out.  The regulations and supporting guidance can be accessed using the following links:

DSEAR Regulations

DSEAR Approved Code of Practice

Safe Use and Handling of Flammable Liquids

Storage of Flammable Liquids in Containers


The Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000 (PSSR)

Where pressurised equipment is in use, the owners and operators of such systems are required to demonstrate that they are safe under the conditions of use and are regularly inspected to ensure that they are in good working order and potential faults and defects are identified before a failure occurs.  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.

PSSR Regulations

Safety of Pressure Systems

Written Schemes of Examination

HSE Pressure Systems Safety Website


Dr Philip Rodger

University Chemical Safety Adviser


T: 0141 3302799