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Laboratory safety guidelines

This list summarises general lab safety rules and should be read alongside the Department's Safety Policy overview. Additional specific rules may apply in different laboratories, which will also depend on the task to be carried out. These are reflected in the relevant risk assessment documents (including COSHH) that all laboratory workers sign prior to starting their laboratory work.

  1. Before starting work, make sure that you have undergone the appropriate health and safety induction, including reading and signing the appropriate risk assessment with COSHH forms.
  2. Wear personal protective equipment as required when working in the laboratory.
  3. Never eat, drink or apply make-up in a laboratory or use mouth pipetting (using your mouth to draw liquids into a pipette).
  4. Use the appropriate bins for disposal of solid waste and the appropriate containers for liquid waste (i.e., do not pour solvents down the sink!).
  5. Read and observe any special safety instructions displayed in the laboratory or which have been issued to you.
  6. Keep your working area clean and free from obstructions and leave it tidy when you leave.
  7. Make sure you get the appropriate training before using any of the equipment, including safety devices, even if you are already familiar with them.
  8. Never work alone in an empty laboratory without informing others of your presence there.
  9. Report all accidents, incidences or near misses.
  10. Report all breakages and spills to the laboratory manager.
  11. In case of a fire alarm, know the emergency escape route.
  12. Remove protective equipment (e.g. your laboratory coat and gloves) and wash your hands thoroughly before leaving the laboratory.

Essential Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to wear when working in our labs

At all times when working in our labs, you're required to wear: lab coats and protective gloves, plus additional protection in these specific circumstances:

  • When handling liquid nitrogen: insulating gloves, safety spectacles.
  • When using ultra-sonicators: ear protection.
  • At all times when in chemistry labs and when handling corrosive chemicals: safety spectacles.

Please also refer to the specific risk assessment/COSHH required for task-specific PPE.