6 Laboratory Practice with Hazardous Materials
6:1 Unaccompanied Working
6:1:1 Lone working should always be avoided if possible. Members of the department MUST NOT be allowed to work unaccompanied with hazardous materials until their supervisor/LSS has assessed their ability to do so. This assessment may need to be made on more than one occasion to cover different techniques etc.
6:1:2 When working with radioisotopes, separate University rules apply and an independent assessment will be made by the Departmental Radiation Protection Officer (DRPO) or by your Radiation Protection Supervisor (RPS).
6:1:3 Undergraduate students engaged in final year projects etc MUST NOT be allowed to work unaccompanied until their supervisor/LSS has assessed their ability to do so and has provided adequate training to allow them to work competently and safely.
6:1:4 Undergraduate students may only work in the department 'out of hours' with the written permission of their supervisor and after discussion with the LSS and DSO. This permission MUST include a brief outline of the work to be done, and a Risk Assessment on the standard form. The DSO must approve access by signing the Swipe Card application form. Such out of hours working is not allowed if the work can be carried out during the normal working day.
6:1:5 All rules regarding control of access MUST be obeyed.
6:1:6 Undergraduate supervisors and LSS's MUST give great thought before giving written permission for 'out of hours ' working. No hazardous procedures are allowed out of hours.
6:2 Acquisition, Storage, Transport & Disposal of Hazardous Material
6:2:1 Acquisition of Hazardous Materials
- Acquisition of all hazardous materials including all chemicals, solvents, acids and radio isotopes MUST be made through the Chief Technician using an official University order signed by him.
- Copies of all requisitions for hazardous and non-hazardous materials are kept in the Chief Technician's office.
- Before these orders are placed, both the user and his LSS MUST be aware of how to handle, store and dispose of these hazardous materials and that they are familiar with the proper methods of dealing with a spillage. User/supervisor signature on the chemical requisition and storage card is to say that knowledge has been obtained.
- Hazardous materials now require formal RISK ASSESSMENTS to be carried out before work with those materials is carried out (see Biology Dept. LSM COSHH).
- When hazardous materials are carcinogens, mutagens or teratogens and there is known risk to humans, orders WILL NOT be placed until safe handling, storage and disposal methods are in place. The DSO MUST be informed prior to ordering.
- Human carcinogens (see Chemical Carcinogens ISBN 0 85958 580 8) MUST NOT be allowed into the University until you have WRITTEN approval from the Head of Department. The HoD MUST CONFIRM that procedures for use, storage and disposal are adequate before giving his approval. The University Chemicals Hazards Officer MUST also be notified. Guidance on the use of carcinogens has been produced by the Safety Services Office.
- All chemical orders must be unpacked by the Chief Technician or his deputy and coded before being issued to the user. Each bottle must be coded with the order number and the date of arrival.
6:2:2 Storage of Hazardous Materials
- The Chief Technician must be informed of all chemicals entering the department.
- The separate storage of flammable, explosive, corrosive and oxidising materials in suitable containers should follow normal, good laboratory practice.
- Compounds which are VERY TOXIC, TOXIC, CARCINOGENIC, MUTAGENIC or TERATOGENIC MUST be stored responsibly.
- All stocks of flammable solvents MUST be stored in a solvent cabinet or in the solvent store outside the building.
- Only minimum working stocks of flammable solvents may be kept out of store. NO MORE than 500cm3 is permitted as a working stock.
- Working stock of solvents or chemicals MUST be adequately labelled. Waterproof plastic laminated labels are available. It is encouraged to provide as MUCH information on these labels as is provided on the original containers.
- Acids and solvents MUST NOT be stored together. Acids and alkalis MAY BE stored together.
- Flammable materials MUST NOT be stored in fridges, freezers or cold rooms unless that apparatus is labelled SPARK PROOF.
- Samples etc stored in fridges, freezers and cold rooms MUST BE:
- suitably sealed
- adequately labelled with contents, your name and date
- liquids may expand on freezing. It is a wise precaution to place
vessels inside a second labelled, unbreakable container that
could contain spills or leaks.
- not stored on open shelves
6:2:3 Transport of Chemicals and Compressed Gases by Departmental Vehicles or Private Vehicles
If you wish to transport compressed gases or any other type of chemical from the University to another destination, you must first seek guidance and prior approval from your Laboratory Safety Supervisor. It is a requirement that the transport of such substances is in accordance with current UK law.
For each substance it is essential that you obtain:
- Detailed information concerning the hazards associated with the quantities and concentrations carried.
- How it must be packed and labelled.
- How it should be segregated from other substances carried.
When transporting such substances by motor vehicle, full details must be entered in a file to be carried in the driver's compartment. This should include:
- A list of chemicals carried.
- Corresponding hazard data sheets and risk assessment forms.
- The location of the substances in the vehicle.
In some cases it may be necessary to display a sign in the vehicle indicating the nature of the hazardous substance carried. However, you should seek guidance on this point from the Safety Office.
Because the risks associated with each substance are different, it is essential that you establish the procedures necessary for each one separately and inform the Laboratory Safety supervisor of the precautions you are taking.
You should establish that you are properly insured for the transport of the substances involved.
In the case of field courses you should consult with the Fieldwork Safety Supervisor if you are transporting compressed gasses or other chemicals.
If you leave chemicals in another laboratory/institution, you (as the supplier) must leave hazard data sheets and risk assessment forms with them.
For the transport of radio-isotopes, you must consult the Departmental Radiation Protection Officer (Professor P Jarvis) and obtain approval prior to your journey.
In all cases you should establish what you need to do, well before you need to travel.
When sending substances to other institutions or countries a separate covering letter should precede the package specifying material, quantity and hazards.
6:2:4 Spillage Procedures for Hazardous Materials
In any incident the safeguarding of life and health is paramount and should not be compromised in order to protect equipment or buildings.
Before purchasing hazardous substances you are required to obtain information regarding risks associated with that substance. Spillage procedure is part of that information as well as being good laboratory practice.
It is your responsibility to ensure that relevant chemicals or equipment for spillage are available. A spillage kit is kept in room 345A, the WASH UP Room opposite 306. This contains common items required to deal with spillages.
If you feel any spillage is too large or dangerous for you to control, obtain help, call the Fire Brigade by dialling 9999 or 888 on any University phone or by dialling 999 on a pay phone (no money is required).
All spillages and uses of the spillage kit MUST be reported to the Chief Technician or the DSO so that used materials can be replaced.
6:2:5 Disposal of Hazardous Substances (See also 'Departmental Waste Disposal')
All chemicals, solvents and hazardous materials in whatever medium MUST be disposed of safely and responsibly.
Only approved routes for disposal may be used (see Laboratory Safety Manual).
Before purchasing hazardous chemicals, you are required to obtain information regarding risks associated with that chemical. Disposal knowledge is part of that information required.
Many published disposal methods may be chemically difficult and time consuming. In this case, it may be useful to discuss with the LSS/DSO so that information gathered can be tailored to fit procedures used in this department.