Working with Chemicals
Uni Research has established extensive guidelines on working with chemicals in the HMS / HSE handbook. The following chapter is based on this information, with local adaptations. Please refer to uni.no > intranet > HMS or HSE > sec. 7 working in laboratories > sec. 7.1 for further information, particularly regarding chemical risk assessment. A more generalized approach to risk assessment is found in HMS >sec. 6
General Laboratory Rules
- Know which safety and protective equipment will be needed for your work and that it is available for use, before you begin. READ the SDS!
- Always wear a lab coat (cotton) to protect clothes and skin.
- Always wear appropriate gloves to handle chemicals and containers.
- Always wear shoes with enclosed toes that protect the instep - no sandals!
- Keep labs and benches clean and tidy; always clean up any spill (including water spills) immediately.
- Remember! It is forbidden to eat, drink, or smoke in labs; transport food and drinks through the labs; or to store food and drinks in laboratory refrigerators and freezers.
- Wash hands extensively with soap and water after work in the lab.
First Aid in the Laboratory
- Know where to find first aid equipment in your work area (emergency shower, eye shower/rinse bottle, bandages, etc).
- Be prepared for accidents. See Chemical Exposure Emergency Procedures (Annex 2).
- Familiarise yourself with the location (storage room 229 B1), contents, and proper usage of laboratory chemical spill kits (Annex 2).
- The Sars Centre uses a centralised ordering system which means that all ordering is done through the administration (front office staff), except:
Ethanol and Isopropanol which are purchased “in-house” via an agreement with UiB.
Alcohol can be picked-up at MBI (5th floor HIB), from the designated responsible person (ask at MBIís reception area for information).
- Before a new chemical is ordered; one should always read the safety data sheet and do a risk assessment!
- The Department Engineer in each research group places orders for their own group. Generally, this individual is also responsible for keeping an up-dated chemical registery (EcoOnline) and safety data sheets in the lab (SDS-folder), and therefore, needs a clear overview of all chemicals purchased and their usage. Be sure to have good communication amongst lab members regarding purchase and use of chemicals!
Risk Assessment and substitution analysis
When planning a project or experiment, the project leader, together with project participants, must perform a risk analysis of chemicals, reagents, and protocols to be used, before starting work. This risk assessment must be documented and submitted to the Head of Administration. (A standardized scheme for documenting this procedure is found under the Uni Research website.)
Risk = Probability x Consequence
Risk is defined as the probability that a substance or situation will produce harm under specified conditions. Risk is a combination of two factors:
- The probability that an adverse event will occur (such as exposure from a chemical incident)
- The consequences of the adverse event (such as how ill that chemical could make you)
Probabilities and consequences are usually plotted against each other in a matrix to determine the level of risk. An approach to general risk assessment and a matix example is found in the Uni HMS handbook (uni.no > intranett > HMS >sec. 6, risk matrices), see figure below:
Risk assessment considerations - Identify potential risks:
- The inherent properties of the chemicals or reagents
Refer to the SDSís: What risks are connected with the inherent properties of the chemicals?
- Usage and methods
What risks are connected to handling procedures and methods utilising the chemicals? Can risks be sufficiently reduced by correct handling and protective equipment?
- Laboratory facilities
Are work areas properly equipped to carry out the required experiments in a safe manner?
- Knowledge of lab personnel
Are specific skills required for working safely with the chemical/equipment/method? Is training required?
Do the facilities provide safe storage places for the chemicals?
- Waste handling
What sort of waste will be generated? How much? How should the waste be handled and disposed? If this is unknown or cannot be done safely, one can not order the chemical.