Identifying chemical hazards
All chemicals are now classified using a system of statements and symbols, known as the Global Harmonized System (GHS) symbols. This system provides a basis for communicating chemical hazard information to users, to help them clearly recognise the hazardous properties of the substances they use.
In addition to the GHS symbols, there are also a series of hazard and precautionary statements. These give more specific information on what the hazards are and how to handle the chemical.
Safety Data Sheets
More information about a chemical is supplied in the Safety Data Sheet (SDS). These are supplied with the chemical when purchased but can also be downloaded from the manufacturer's website or requested by contacting the supplier.
A copy of the SDS should be avalable in each laboratory or workshop where the chemical is used and stored, either as a physical or electronic copy, and everyone working in the area should know how this information can be found.
The SDS also gives useful details on:
- first aid measures
- additional PPE information
- the compounds to avoid mixing your chemical with
Use this information to properly analyse the risks in your chemical risk assessment.
Workplace exposure limits
Workplace exposure limits must be considered alongside the COSHH regulations. These guidelines include maximum limits for “long term” (8 hour) or “short-term” (15 minute) exposures.
Details on the storage requirements of a chemical are given in section 7 of the SDS. Storage measures must be covered in the COSHH risk assessment.
Chemicals must only be purchased by authorised persons only using the University's purchasing system.
Any chemical brought onto University premises must be:
- included in a COSHH risk assessment
- accompanied by an up to date SDS
- added to the chemical list for the appropriate school or workshop.
The safe management of hazardous chemicals includes storing and using substances in an appropriate manner to reduce the risk of injury or physical damage resulting from reaction through incompatibility.
Learn more by speaking to your supervisor and local health and safety representatives. Further advice is also available from the University's Chemical Safety Adviser.
All waste must be disposed of appropriately. Never simply just flush it down the drain.
Chemical waste must be disposed of using the University-approved chemical waste contractor. This is arranged through your local laboratory or workshop manager.
The key to safe chemical disposal is to keep different chemicals separate for disposal. Some generic waste collection is possible, but you should always check you are following local arrangements within each laboratory or workshop.
Before starting work with chemicals, familiarise yourself with your nearest available emergency shower or sink.
Some chemicals require specialist neutralisation. If you are using them, you will be told how and when to use them.
If there is a spill, you should only ever clean up if you know it is safe to do so. Always seek further advice and support from the person responsible for supervising your work or teaching session.
All chemicals used at the University must be covered by a chemical risk assessment and stored securely at all times.
Before using chemicals, an assessment must be carried out. This is in line with the University's hazardous chemical management policy.
Students must have received training in appropriate handling techniques and emergency measures from their local supervisor.