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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  Resources  /  Laboratory  /  Lab Manual  /  Risk Assessments

Risk Assessments

All procedures must be covered by a current Risk Assessment. To carry out a risk assessment, you must first identify the hazards involved with the work to be carried out. This is something we actually do every day subconsciously and is far easier than it sounds. The aim of any risk assessment is to make yourself aware of the possible hazards and to minimise the risk of injury to yourself or others working nearby. If a procedure has been in practice for some time, there will be a risk assessment already in existence. If you are going to carry out the same procedure READ THE RISK ASSESSMENT FIRST. Copies of existing assessments for all laboratory procedures are kept with the Lab Supervisor. If you intend to carry out a new procedure assess the risks and fill out a form.

Risk Assessment must be completed by the person who instigates the work or Supervisor and read and signed by any worker who will be involved in the work. Advice on assessing the risks of your new methods can be obtained from the DSO / Lab Supervisor.

When carrying out work using chemicals, it is necessary to carry out a COSHH (Control Of Substances Hazardous to Health) assessment. COSHH Risk Assessments are intended to draw the user’s attention to any long-term health risks associated with chemicals being used. The aim is to eliminate or reduce the risk of exposure to the chemical (relevant documents are available from the Laboratory Supervisor).

Risk Assessments must include details of disposal methods and emergency procedures – first aid, spillage clearance etc. This information is obtainable from the lab supervisor.

When planning work consider the possibility of substituting less hazardous reagents. If all other options have been explored and a less harmful alternative substance cannot be substituted, other methods of preventing exposure must be found. These will normally involve wearing lab coat, safety glasses and gloves (see protective clothing) and working in a fume cupboard with the window drawn down to the “safe working height” (see fume cupboards). If these precautions are insufficient to prevent exposure to the chemical in any way, the chemical must not be used in the laboratory and a substitute must be found or the procedure must be abandoned.