skip to primary navigationskip to content

Chemical Safety

Chemical Safety

The use of hazardous chemicals is an integral part of scientific research, but do not become complacent; learn how to store, handle and dispose of chemicals safely. All members of the department are required to have attended Chemical Safety Training provided by the Safety Office, either on induction or separately.

All chemicals are labelled to show the nature of any hazard, the dangers involved, preventive precautions and action to be taken in the event of an accident. In addition to this manufacturers and suppliers are required to provide material safety data sheets (MSDS) detailing the hazards, precautions and action to take in the event of an accident; many of these are also available online at suppliers’ websites.

The use of hazardous chemicals is governed by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations and a suitable and sufficient risk assessment should be carried out before any work is undertaken.

Toxic chemicals must be kept locked in a secure cabinet
Flammable chemicals must be kept in a metal flammables cabinet with secondary containment
Corrosive chemicals should be kept in a separate cabinet with secondary containment
Beware of possible hazardous combinations; for example acetic acid should not be stored with many other acids.

More information is available in the Chemical Safety Guidance provided by the Health & Safety Division (incompatibilities are listed in Appendix 3).

Most chemicals should not be disposed of via the drains. All hazardous chemicals should be disposed of via the hazardous waste route; fill in a form and pass the chemicals to Stores for collection by the waste management company. If in doubt consult Barney Leeke, the Department Safety Officer (DSO).

Gas cylinders, cryogens and animal allergens are also covered by this legislation and have specific precautions and control measures required when dealing with them. See the appropriate section of the safety manual for more details or consult the DSO.

Anti-terrorism legislation prohibits the storage of more than 5mg of certain toxic chemicals without excessive security measures. You should therefore not have any more than 5mg of any schedule 5 toxin or combination of these toxins in a single secure location. You must not store any botulinum or Clostridium perfringens enterotoxin/epsilon toxin.