Personal safety in the laboratory

1.1 Introduction

All the laboratories in SASVRC are classified either as PC2 or PC3. This is in accordance with the guidelines determined by the Genetic Manipulation Advisory Committee. The regulations for each category are posted on the laboratory doors, and are detailed below.

1.2 Food and drink in laboratories

The Guidelines of the Genetic Manipulation Advisory Committee (GMAC) prohibits the storage and consumption of food and drink in all laboratories at SASVRC. The consumption of food and drink in laboratories is a highly dangerous practice.
The GMAC also requires that cosmetics should not be applied in laboratories where pathogens or carcinogens are handled or where recombinant DNA work is carried out.
It is the responsibility of Research Unit Leaders to ensure that the prohibition is enforced.
Eating and drinking may take place in offices attached to laboratories, but the occupiers of offices should be sensitive to the suitability of the practice should there be virtually no separation between the office and laboratory.
A tea room is provided on level 3 for the use of lab staff, and the refrigerators there can be used for the storage of food.

1.3 Dress requirements

The level of personal protection required for a worker will depend on the nature of the hazards that they work with or which they may encounter in their work area. The type of personal protection that is required should be determined by undertaking a risk assessment for the specific work activity. However in laboratories, workshops and similar workplaces, it is appropriate and necessary to specify a minimum standard of dress and protective equipment.
In the case of PC2 and PC3 laboratories the minimum standard of dress and protective equipment would be full-length laboratory coat that closes down the back, and closed-in shoes. Long hair should be tied back. Gloves will also be required to handle toxic, corrosive, pathogenic or radioactive substances. The coat should be removed before the worker leaves the laboratory.
The minimum dress and protective equipment standards are based on providing protection of the person against the foreseeable risk of injury and a knowledge that the protection will reduce that risk. These standards will be enforced. Laboratory workers failing to comply with these regulations can be requested to leave the laboratory until the correct minimum standards are achieved.

1.4 Smoking

There is a policy of no smoking in the whole of the SASVRC building. A smokers' area has been provided at the rear of the building.

1.5 Hand washing

  • before leaving the laboratory after handling specimens of any typebefore eating, drinking or smoking
  • after removal of gloves

1.6 Face protection

  • UV-resistant face shield must be used when viewing gels over a UV transilluminator.Shatterproof face shield must be used when accessing liquid nitrogen dewars.
  • Eye goggles and face masks should be worn when weighing out and handling dangerous chemical

1.7 Cuts on hands

Cuts or open abrasions on hands must be covered before commencing work in any area. Use a waterproof bandaid for small skin breaks or gloves for extensive broken skin.

1.8 Gloves

Gloves are one barrier against cross contamination and should be used as an adjunct to normal safe handling of hazardous materials.
If it is necessary to move from one laboratory to another while wearing gloves, please ensure that you remove one glove and use the bare hand for opening doors, etc.
Gloves must never be worn when using a computer, answering the phone or doing paperwork.

1.9 Lab coats

It is compulsory to wear a lab coat when working in the laboratory. The coat must be removed before leaving the laboratory and left on the coat hooks just outside the lab.
Clean lab coats can be obtained from the 6th floor, and dirty lab coats returned to that same area. Lab coats must never be taken home for washing.

1.10 Mouth pipetting

Mouth pipetting is strictly forbidden. Each laboratory has a mechanical pipetaid for that use.

1.11 Immune status of staff

Upon appointment, all staff are to have a baseline blood sample taken and regular samples taken annually thereafter.
It is recommended that all workers handling blood or other body fluids receive a course of Hepatitis B vaccination. The response should be serologically confirmed approximately one month after the third dose.