Working Safely in the Colloid Group Labs

You must undertake a risk assessment for all procedures carried out in the School of Chemistry. There are no exceptions to this. No work goes on in the lab until a risk assessment has been done.

This assessment is for your benefit as well as that of your coworkers in the laboratory and anyone else who may have to enter the laboratories routinely (cleaners, building supervisors) or in an emergency situation (porters, security, fire brigade). In preparing for an experiment, it must be remembered that your coworkers may not understand fully the risks of your reactions, let alone other non-chemists who may be involved.

» more on assessing hazards

» department's safety website

Safety as part of the routine

Two key parts of helping us work safely are assessing the risks involved in what we do (i.e. Risk Assessment, RA) and telling everyone else what is going on should you leave a reaction unattended (i.e. Experiment in Progress, EIP).

1. Yearly

A "Project Risk Assessment" for each project is to be completed yearly and whenever a project changes substantially. These forms are completed jointly by the supervisor and the research worker using the department's Dynamic Laboratory Manual. The supervisor must be logged into DLM to start the form; the research worker then logs in to add their assent and pass the form on to the DSA.

2. Starting a new experiment

Fill in a Risk Assessment / Experiment in Progress form. If you start ticking boxes on the front of the EIP form, then you have a A, B or C category procedure. You will then need to complete the back and get the approval of a member of academic staff (and possibly also the Departmental Safety Advisor) prior to starting work.

» see also: repeated procedures (below)

3. Starting a new experiment: COSHH Special RA

Looking at the RA form you have just filled out, if you find certain risk phrases in your MSDS search then you need to complete a COSHH Special RA. (The only exception to this is for chemicals that are part of our undergraduate lab program.)

» see also: COSHH Special Risk Assessments

» see also: Risk Phrases requiring a COSHH Special RA

4. During an experiment: unattended reactions

If you are leaving a reaction unattended for any length of time (e.g. morning tea, lunch, overnight), then it needs to be appropriately labelled. Please use the yellow laminated "EXPERIMENT IN PROGRESS" sheets which should be made visible next to your set-up in the lab. If your lab does not currently have any of these sheets please contact Tony Rogers.

5. Repeating an experiment

Go back through your lab book and find the previous risk assessment. Check it to make sure it's still accurate and familiarise yourself with any hazards or safety procedures that were identified. For the new experiment, note the page number in your lab book where you stuck in the previous risk assessment. If the new experiment is distinctly different to the old one, you need to do a new RA/EIP form.