There is an array of chemicals and materials at the University, some are perfectly safe, others could cause harm to you, an unborn child or harm the environment. Before carrying out any experiment at the University, you must always undertake a COSHH Assessment.
To ensure that hazardous substances do not cause harm to health, or the environment, consideration must be given to the safe, responsible, sustainable and economical use of substances throughout their lifecycle – from procurement, storage, use, transport and through to disposal.
When working with substances hazardous to health, consider whether the substance can be substituted for a substance with a lower risk, particularly if the substance is a known carcinogen, mutagen, sensitiser or toxic by reproduction. If not, all of the following principles of control are to be applied to reduce the risk (principles may overlap in their application):
- Design and operate processes and activities to minimise emission, release and spread of substances hazardous to health and the environment.
- Take into account all relevant routes of exposure – inhalation, skin and ingestion – when developing control measures.
- Control the exposure by choosing measures that are proportionate to the health risk.
- Chose the most effective and reliable control options that minimise the escape and spread of substances hazardous to health.
- Where adequate control of exposure cannot be achieved by other means provide, in conjunction with other control measures, suitable personal protective equipment.
- Check and review regularly all elements of control measures for their continuing effectiveness.
- Where required, inform and train others on the hazards and risks from substances with which they work, including the use of control measures developed to minimise the risks.
- Ensure the introduction of measures to control exposure does not increase the overall risk to health and safety.
Where there is a risk of exposure above recommended levels, those exposed must be subject to health surveillance. More information on health surveillance can be found on the HSE website, and advice can be sought from Occupational Health:
Call: 01792 295538
Email: Click here to email the Occupational Health team
The material safety data sheet (MSDs) gives generic information on the substance. However, there must be an assessment of how the substance is used and stored which will determine the controls for specific use. All MSDs must be kept on Quartzy as an attachment with hyperlink. This will enable you to access the MSDs from outside the laboratory if required.
The main sections that set out the health risks and emergency situations associated with the substance can be found in:
- Section 2 and 16 for information about the dangers;
- Section 4-8 for information on emergencies, storage and handling.
If any substance shows a workplace exposure limit (section 8), please seek advice from your H&S Lead/Advisor or the Health & Safety Team.
If you have any queries in relation to hazardous substances speak to you H&S Lead/ Advisor. Alternatively contact the Health & Safety Team/Sustainability Team for advice and support.
Chemical Safety Templates & Guidance
Chemical Risk Assessment - Pre-Purchase Form
Chemical Risk Assessment - Safe Operating Procedure
Chemical Risk Assessment Guidance