Health and Safety Notes
These notes should be read in conjunction with any Specific Codes of Practice for any area in which you are working:
Health and Safety at Work Act
The Health and Safety at Work Act defines the responsibility of the employer, the employee and any other persons on the employers premises in respect of safe practices.
Duty of the Employer:
"It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of all their employees"
This requires the employer to maintain equipment in a safe condition so that, if it is used for the purpose for which it was designed there is minimal risk to the operator. This refers not only to equipment such as centrifuges, blenders and photo spectrometers but also basic laboratory ware such as beakers, pipettes and any other items which you may use within the University.
You may use chemicals or reagents which have the potential to be hazardous. The Act requires information about any hazards associated with such reagents to be available, that precautions be taken to ensure their safe handling, use and disposal, and that supervision be provided during such use.
Supervision and training must be provided before any laboratory equipment is used and during any subsequent use.
The employer must provide and maintain a safe working environment.In general, the building must be free from hazards such as loose floor coverings and slippery floors or; stairs; it must have adequate; ventilation, heating and lighting and specialist areas such as laboratories must have fume cupboards, micro biological safety cabinets or other specialist facilities where necessary.
Duty of the Employee:
"to take reasonable care for the health and safety of him/herself and of other persons who may be affected by his/her acts or omissions at work."
The Act requires the employee to co-operate with the employer in the execution of the provisions of the Health and Safety at Work Act, viz. to follow any instructions given for a specified operation or procedure, to take any precautions specified in those instructions and to use any specific safety equipment provided.
The employee must not put any others persons at risk, for example, an employee may be adhering to the instructions relating to a given procedure by using the appropriate safety equipment but other persons nearby are not using such equipment. The person undertaking the procedure must notify such persons of the need for the safety equipment and the procedure cannot continue until such persons have either left the vicinity or are using the appropriate safety items.
An employee must not intentionally or recklessly interfere with or misuse any precautions,procedures or equipment provided in pursuance of any specific requirement of the Health and Safety at Work Act.
Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations
COSHH aims to protect everyone from the potentially harmful effects of toxic, harmful, irritant and corrosive substances, pesticides and other chemicals, micro-organisms,carcinogens and any other undefined substance such as 'dust' or 'fumes'.
In terms of University activities the individual in charge of the exercise must carry out an assessment of the exercise; determine the substances which are involved, how they are to be used, and what are the possible risks to health. This is usually done by the member of academic or technical staff who designed the exercise but may include students who are undertaking final year project work.
The assessment is undertaken through the completion of COSHH forms in order that everyone involved (academic or technical staff and students) can be made aware of any hazards involved in the exercise.
If potentially hazardous substances are unavoidable appropriate control measures must be put into place to minimise the levels of expose to the substance by all persons.
The individuals undertaking or preparing the exercise have the responsibility of implementing appropriate control measures e.g. working in a fume cupboard, wearing gloves, goggles etc.
You must follow the instructions given with the exercise and read and comply with any warnings which may be given on the labels of the reagents.
There is one basic and overriding rule: