Policy : Day-to-day Activities

Policy : Day-to-day Activities

The information and instructions in this section are key elements to ensure that the Safety Policy is implemented effectively.

Definitions of safety terms in this section

  • The persons to be protected include University staff, hospital staff, students, patients, outside contractors and visitors.
  • A hazard is a substance or agent whose inherent properties give it the potential to impair health or safety.
  • The severity of a risk is measured by the gravity of all possible accidents or side-effects, by the probability of these accidents or side-effects occurring, by the frequency with which the risk procedure is carried out and by the numbers of people exposed to the risk
  • The phrases, 'as far as reasonably practicable' always imply a clearly defined (and in many cases, written) effort to compare probable benefits (in the broadest sense) with probable costs (in the broadest sense).

Safety Guidelines applicable to all laboratories

  • Medical conditions, (such as allergies, diabetes, colour blindness, haemophilia, or epilepsy) should be made known to your supervisor or senior technician, prior to working in a laboratory.
  • Out of Hours working: Normal working hours are within 8.00am to 6.00pm, Monday - Friday. Anyone working outside these hours must sign themselves in and out in the late working book located by the janitor's box.
  • Do not eat, drink or store food in the laboratories.
  • Laboratory coats must be worn in all laboratories at all times by all laboratory personnel. They should be removed before entering offices, common rooms or areas for refreshments. They should be laundered regularly. Indelible labelling should indicate name, laboratory and room number. Coats contaminated with radioactive material should be stored until the latter has decayed to a safe level before laundering.
  • Gloves should not be worn outside of the laboratories. Where gloves are required, ensure that they have the appropriate chemical resistance for the substances being used. They should be removed when not actually handling hazardous materials. Always remove one glove in corridors or at exit/entry doors. An exception to this is the transporting of hazardous materials requiring gloved hands; in this instance a second person should accompany you to open doors etc.
  • Wash your hands on leaving the laboratory.
  •  Be tidy. A common cause of accidents is apparatus or stores left in the wrong place. Do not allow unwanted materials, especially organic solvents, to accumulate. Clean up spillages immediately they occur.
  • Clearly label all cultures, bottles and tubes, etc. with their contents (the full chemical name should be given, not formulae), your name and date in indelible ink in English. A self-adhesive label covered with clear sticky tape is preferable and the appropriate hazard warning label should be used. There should be no unlabelled chemicals in laboratories.
  • Turn off gas, water, electricity and other supplies when not required.
  • Avoid putting pencils, pens, etc. in the mouth. (Labels should not be licked: use self-adhesive ones or moisten the gum under the tap).
  • Mouth pipetting is prohibited: use an automatic pipetting device. 
  • Do not use mobile phones in laboratories to avoid the risk of contamination.
  • MP3 players/personal music systems are not allowed to be used in any laboratory.
  • Laboratories should be left in a safe state for cleaners to come in either in the early morning or evening.
  • Safety goggles should be worn where necessary especially if contact lenses are worn, e.g., when pouring dangerous liquids, opening ampoules or 'difficult' bottles.
  • Contact lenses: Gases and vapours can be concentrated under contact lenses and cause permanent eye damage; in the event of chemical splash in the eye it may be difficult to remove contact lenses to irrigate the eye. If in doubt, contact lens wearers should seek advice from their Supervisor or Safety Adviser so that satisfactory precautions can be devised.
  • Always cover any unhealed cuts with a waterproof plaster.
  • Sinks might be needed in an emergency and should be kept clear. The washing of apparatus and glassware should be done in bowls which can be quickly moved out of the way.
  • Do not run in a laboratory or along corridors adjoining laboratories.
  • Where there are insufficient socket outlets, wall mounted multi-way extensions (preferably switched/fused) may be used. Adapters are not acceptable in laboratories.
  • Use of Equipment: Before using any piece of equipment you must be aware of any safety precautions that may have to be taken. You should also refer to the Standard Operating Procedure for the equipment. Unattended equipment running out of normal working hours should bear a notice giving emergency contact details for user and shutdown procedure to be used in an emergency.
  • Respect areas in each building which are restricted to authorised personnel, e.g., Radiochemical and Containment laboratories, Plant rooms and Animal Houses.
  • No young children should be brought into the laboratories.
  • Pregnancy: University policy supports any necessary temporary modification of duties during pregnancy. Please contact your supervisor or Head of Institute, in confidence, at the earliest possible stage to ensure that all appropriate safety measures are met.  Fuller guidelines are provided at SEPS website and Human Resources website.

Building Regulations

  •  Do not obstruct corridors, fire-exits, fire-appliances or first-aid boxes. Do not jam open any fire doors.
  • Smoking is not permitted in University buildings. Please do not smoke at building entrance doors or near air intake vents.
  • Always follow safety guidelines given by a laboratory supervisor, fire officer or member of staff with specific responsibilities for safety in the building.

Carriage of Materials

Within the building – all hazardous substances must be fully and securely contained when transported within the building. When transported to other levels, use only the goods lift or stairs, not the passenger lift. If a glove cannot be removed, a second person must accompany to open doors etc.
In vehicles - do not transport any potentially hazardous materials such as radioisotopes, solvents or large volumes of cultures in private vehicles. The University provides vehicles for this purpose.