Electrical Safety & Equipment

As a general principle, Estates and Buildings are responsible for the mains electrical installation within the building. Any faults on the mains system should be reported by either of the following ways: 

- To the Specific building contact: 

Davidson/Wolfson Link/ James Black ComplexJohn McDougalEmail: John.McDougal@glasgow.ac.uk
Ext.: 8447
Bower Craig Carr Email: Craig.Carr@glasgow.ac.uk
Ext.: 5081
Joseph Black  Carol-Anne Smith Email: Carol-Anne.Smith@glasgow.ac.uk
Ext: 2085


-Filling out the Estates and Buildings Helpdesk online form. 

All portable electrical appliances will be tested by an accredited external contractor. This will be arranged by the Local Safety Co-ordinator. For further information please see the University's guidance to portable electrical equipment. 

If you find faults on equipment, DO NOT USE the item. Remove it from service and notify your Principle Investigator or local safety co-ordinator of the fault. 

Do not use electrical equipment in wet conditions unless it is specifically designed for that environment. Equipment used in the cold room must be PAT tested before use and when removed from cold room must be allowed to equilibrate to room temperature and any condensation that has formed on the electrics allowed to evaporate before further use. 

Do not use any equipment unless you know the correct proceudures for their use and safe systems of work along with any booking procedures. Most large or specialist pieces of equipment will be assigned a curator, who should be contacted for training prior to use. Also ensure that you clean up any spillages that occur during use and also report any faults or problems to the appropriate person. If you are untrained and use a piece of equipment and damage it, it is unlikely that the Insurance Company would be willing to support our claim. 


Pressurised Systems

  • The Pressure Systems and Transportable Gas Containers Regulations 1989 cover all systems in which gas or vapour is contained at pressures greater than 0.5 bar above atmospheric pressure, including gas pipelines.
    Equipment with a pressure vessel in which the energy exceeds 250 bar litres must be registered with the university and are subject to examination by an insurance engineering inspector.
  • Equipment which must be registered includes pressure cookers, gas distribution systems and autoclaves
  • For further information please see the SEPs website.


Centrifuges must be operated according to the manufacturers’ instructions. In the event of a tube breakage or spillage occurring in a centrifuge whilst in operation the following procedure must be undertaken: 

  •  Shut down centrifuge power
  • Leave the lid closed for at least 30 minutes to allow aerosols to settle.
  • Notify technical support staff
  • Institute a clean-up procedure avoiding harsh cleaning or harsh disinfecting agents
  • Use appropriate disinfectant to render safe the biological agent in use at the time of the incident
  • All accidents/ Incidents must be reported using the University reporting procedures.


  • Wash out after each use
  • Do not use harsh disinfectant’s to clean
  • Any defects or signs of corrosion must be reported to technical staff or the Safety Co-Ordinator for that building at once

Electrophoresis Equipment

  • Electrophoresis equipment may operate up to 5000V and therefore incorrect operating procedures or equipment defects are very hazardous. Power must be switched off at the mains and power pack before connecting, disconnecting or checking any part of the system.
  • Electrical connections at the gel tank must be fixed, and be provided with adequate shrouding.
  • All switches, electrical connections, insulation and enclosures must be suitable for their environment and working voltage.
  • All equipment must be regularly examined by a competent person and any defects must be rectified immediately.
  • Understand your electrophoresis equipment and its limitations, run strictly in accordance with the manufacturers/suppliers requirements.
  • If the system is to be run on a constant current ensure there is an upper current limit set. There have been many instances of electrophoresis equipment catching fire in laboratories - check all systems carefully before every run.
  • High voltage electrophoresis must not be run out of normal working hours. The high voltage electrophoresis systems must be monitored during operation.


Fluorescent Microscopes

For more information on fluorescent microscopes please see the Equipment Section of the Bio Imaging page


Unprotected sonicators can produce noise at levels in excess of those at which an employer is required to take action.

  • In this case action is, in part, in the form of an acoustic cabinet which when closed provides protection to those directly and not directly engaged in sonication and are sited in rooms away from general laboratory work. For these to work sonication MUST be carried out with the cabinet door closed.
  • Those persons operating the sonicator should also wear the ear protection provided.
  • Containers of solutions undergoing sonication should not be hand held; as prolonged use can cause subsequent swelling and pain in finger joints. Standard practice, to avoid samples overheating, noise leakage and damage to hands, is to sonicate for short bursts of time (seconds) only, using a clamp and stand.
  • It is a legal requirement that workers are not subjected to noise at or above 80 dB(A) over the whole working day nor to impulsive noise at or above 112 Pascal’s peak pressure (under the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005).

Microwave Ovens

  • Use microwave ovens strictly according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Liquids heated in a microwave oven can be dangerously superheated, and may boil up unexpectedly when picked up, causing severe scalding. Hot agar or agarose solutions are especially hazardous.
  • Always wear thick water- and heat-resistant gloves when removing containers of liquids from a microwave oven, and hold the container so as to avoid spilling hot liquid on yourself.



Water Baths

  • Legionella pneumophila can establish itself in water systems where the temperature is between 20oC and 45oC and in agitated or stagnated water.
  • Laboratory water baths should be cleaned regularly and a sanitising agent added to them such as SigmaClean water bath treatment.