Assessment Procedure for Significant Risks
This form is to be used to record significant risks not covered by any of your departmental generic risk assessments. (If all the work is covered by
generic assessments there is no need to continue any further with this document.)
The assessor should assign values for (a) the level of harm (hazard severity) that could result from using the hazard, and (b) the likelihood of it
occurring (taking into account the frequency and duration of exposure) on a scale of 1 to 5, then multiply them together to give the rating band:
Degree of Harm
(A)
(B)
Likelihood of Occurrence
1 – Trivial
(eg discomfort, irritation, slight bruising, self-help recovery)
2 – Minor
(eg small cut, burn or abrasion, basic first aid need)
3 – Moderate (eg strain, sprain, infection, poisoning, incapacitation > 3 days, fire)
4 – Serious (eg fracture, hospitalisation >24 hrs, incapacitation >4 weeks, severe
damage to building)
5 – Fatal
(single or multiple)
1 – Remote
2 – Unlikely
3 – Possible
4 – Likely
5 – Very likely
(almost never, not expected at all)
(foreseeable, but only occurring rarely)
(could occur, but uncommon)
(recurrent but not frequent)
(could occur frequently)
The risk rating (high, medium or low) indicates the level of
response required to be taken when designing the action plan.
Risk Assessment Matrix
(B)
(A)
Risk Rating Bands (A x B)
Trivial
Minor
Remote
1
2
3
4
5
Unlikely
2
4
6
8
10
Possible
3
6
9
12
15
Likely
4
8
12
16
20
Very likely
5
10
15
20
25
generic-RA-basic-lab-work-2013-v2
Moderate Serious
Fatal
LOW RISK
(1 – 8)
MEDIUM RISK
(9 - 12)
HIGH RISK
(15 - 25)
Continue,
but review
periodically to
ensure controls
remain effective
Continue,
but implement
additional reasonably
practicable controls
where possible and
monitor regularly
STOP THE ACTIVITY
Identify new controls.
Activity must not proceed
until risks are reduced to a
low or medium level
Page 1
Generic Risk Assessment for basic laboratory work
Drafted by Pete Jewell
Location of activity:
June 2013
Because there can be a large number of hazardous agents in laboratories care needs taking in ensuring they are handled safely.
Policy and guidance for various aspects of laboratory work is available at the UHS&E website ( http://www.bath.ac.uk/hr/stayingsafewell/index.html) and the ‘1st
Stop for Health & Safety’ wiki at https://wiki.bath.ac.uk/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=73829286.
This risk assessment only covers basic laboratory work. Any significant hazards involved in the work activity must also be assessed in more detail using one of
the more specialised generic, or specific, risk assessments available on the wiki.
Once complete, all relevant workers must be informed, and their supervisor/manager must record their agreed ‘competence’ level (e.g. using a ‘supervision level’ of ‘low’,
‘medium’ or ‘high’) and get them to sign below.
Date when will the
activity is to start:
Date when it is
likely to finish:
Assessor(s)
names(s):
Supervisor(s):
Signatures
of
Date:
Date of drafting
assessment:
Safety
Coordinator:
Date:
Roughly how
often will it be
performed?
Review date:
Head of
Department;
Date:
Supervision level. (Complete this after assessment is printed.) Supervisors and workers must jointly agree worker’s supervision level, defined as follows;
 'LOW' - Workers are deemed to be adequately  'MEDIUM' - Activity cannot commence
 'HIGH' - Activity cannot commence or
proceed without direct senior supervision.
trained and competent to perform this activity.
without supervisor’s advice and approval.
Worker’s name
generic-RA-basic-lab-work-2013-v2
Worker’s signature
Supervision
level
Supervisor’s name
Supervisor’s signature
Date
Page 2
General Risk Control Measures.
 POWDERED LATEX GLOVES ARE PROHIBITED IN THE UNIVERSITY.
Completion of departmental safety induction is mandatory for lab workers.
Low-protein, non-powdered latex and nitrile disposable gloves (to EN374-2
Lab coats must be worn by all workers in “wet” laboratories.
and EN374-3 Standard) should be available for use in laboratories.
Food or drink must not be consumed or stored in “wet” labs.

To avoid contaminating door handles and light switches lab gloves should
Good standards of personal hygiene must be maintained at all times.
not be worn outside labs. If necessary use one glove to carry lab items.
Hand-to-face operations must be avoided. Hands must be washed when
 All laboratories must maintain an inventory of any ‘dual-use’ materials to
leaving a “wet” laboratory.
help with audits. This inventory must be checked at least annually.
 Mouth pipetting or the use of mouth-operated suction devices is prohibited.
Spillages should be dealt with as soon as possible.
Chemicals; Neutralise, if appropriate, and clear up. Hazardous chemical spillages may need specialised disposal and if you are not sure how to dispose of
any hazardous waste please contact your Technical Manager or email [email protected] It may be appropriate to dispose of some spills to the
drains or to the general “red-label” waste bins. If you are not sure SEEK ADVICE.
In the case of volatile liquids, use tissues and consider removing them as soon as possible (to enable the vapours to dissipate) either to a ducted fume
cupboard or outside the building.
Biological spillages. If appropriate use the recommended decontaminant. Residues may need autoclaving.




First aid.
For chemical or biological spillages on body surfaces (exposed skin and eyes) the main aim must be to remove contaminating material as soon as
possible. This is almost invariably achieved by flushing the affected area with cold tap water for up to 15 minutes. Each “wet” lab should have a hand-held
emergency shower by each hand-wash basin adjacent to exit doors. (Additional advice on first aid treatment should be included in any specific risk
assessment.)
For heat or cold burns the same remedy applies. Cold water effectively removes heat from a heat burn or increases the temperature of a cold-burn affected
area. Flood the affected part for up to 15 minutes.
For needlestick injuries, encourage the wound to bleed, rinse the wound site under cold water and follow any guidance given in specific risk assessments.
Minor cuts can be treated locally. Basic first aid materials (adhesive wound dressings) should be readily available.
For any injury at work, if irritation persists then you should seek medical attention.
If your injury cannot be controlled then you should report to your GP, the University Medical Centre (200 metres to the west of the Building 2 South), the NHS
Walk-in Centre in Bath or the Accident and Emergency unit at the Royal United Hospital in Bath.
For emergency help the University internal telephone number 666 should be used. University Security staff are trained first aiders. A list of
departmental or building first aiders should be displayed in departments.
Incident reporting mechanisms. Injuries (even minor ones) dangerous incidents, and hazards should be reported on the A4 Incident report
forms, available online at http://www.bath.ac.uk/hr/stayingsafewell/accidents-emergency/docsaccidentsandemergencies/Incident_report_form_V2.docx.
generic-RA-basic-lab-work-2013-v2
Page 3
Particularly vulnerable groups at
risk
How could they be harmed?
Risk before
controls
implemented
A
B
Control measures needed to minimise risk
A
AxB
Inexperienced workers (including
undergraduate students, school pupils
on “work experience” schemes and
visitors).
By proximity, skin contact,
inhalation, ingestion.
5 4 20
Supervisors must ensure all lab workers are provided with –
a. Pertinent information.
b. Competent instruction.
c. Basic safety induction training.
d. Relevant training for specialised tasks.
e. Appropriate supervision.
f. Suitable and sufficient risk assessments.
Pregnant, or breast-feeding, women
By being exposed to some
chemical, biological, physical or
radiological hazards.
5 3 15
 Woman must inform supervisor or HR manager of her
pregnancy
 Supervisor must perform specific risk assessment.
5 3 15
 If worker is aware of a particular sensitivity they must
declare this to their supervisor or HR manager.
 Supervisors must identify work with known
sensitisers, compile a risk assessment and request
HR refer workers to the OH provider.
 Supervisor must perform specific risk assessment.
5 3 15
 Supervisor must ensure a PEEP (personal emergency
evacuation plan) is provided.
 Volume of personal music player must not be set too loud
to mask emergency alarm or verbal warnings from others
in the vicinity.
Persons with a history of particular
medical conditions such as allergies
to laboratory animals or latex gloves,
respiratory disorders, those whose
immune system could be impaired due
to illness or medication or those with
skin conditions such as eczema
By exposure to some agents
capable of sensitising workers
or exacerbating their condition.
People who might be less mobile or
have a hearing or sight impediment
or are listening to music with
earphones (during an emergency
evacuation of either building)
By being isolated in a burning
building and unable to escape.
By not hearing warnings from
other people in the vicinity.
generic-RA-basic-lab-work-2013-v2
Risk after
controls
implemented
B
Page 4
AxB
Hazard
Fires and burns caused by the
ignition of flammable reagents
(including organic solvents)
and other materials and by
faulty electrical equipment),
carries the risk of death,
personal injury and severe
property damage. Burns can
also be received from Bunsen
flames, handling hot objects
(such as sterilised wire loops
and materials from the
autoclave) and scalds from
steam and superheated liquids
(as can happen when melting
small volumes of agar in a
microwave oven).
Ultra-cold materials (liquid
nitrogen and solid carbon
dioxide) can cause cold burns.
(Corrosive chemical burns are
dealt with later under
Chemicals.)
Electrical apparatus carries
the potential hazard of electric
shock which can be fatal
following contact with live
components. High
voltage/current apparatus
(such as electrophoresis rigs)
carries a particularly high risk.
Who could
be
harmed?
How could they be
harmed?
Worker and
those nearby
Work involving;
 flammable organic
solvents.
 naked flames (e.g.
Bunsen burners)
 cryogenic materials
(liquid nitrogen and solid
carbon dioxide - “Cardice”
or “Dry-ice")
 using microwave ovens
 hot water from the taps
can be up to 65oC.
 incorrect operation of
electrical equipment
Worker
 Using domestic equipment
for laboratory purposes.
 Using unsafe portable
electrical equipment.
 Use of apparatus involving
high voltages (HV) or
currents (e.g.
electrophoresis
equipment)
 “Live” working in
workshop
 Tampering with electrical
equipment to attempt
repairs.
generic-RA-basic-lab-work-2013-v2
Risk before
controls
implemented
A
A
AxB
Control measures needed to minimise risk
5 4 20
 Ensure familiarity with fire emergency procedures (signs by
fire alarm call points).
 Remove wastes promptly.
 Store flammable organic solvents only in dedicated fireretardant cabinets or in spark-free refrigerators and use
Winchester carriers for carrying bottles.
 Segregate flammable liquids from oxidising agents, naked
flames and electrical equipment.
 Ensure portable electrical equipment is regularly safety
tested.
 Use a heat-resistant bench mat under gas rings when
heating pressure cookers.
 Avoid dipping red-hot cork-borers or tweezers in alcohol.
 Use heat resistant gloves for handling hot or cold items.
 Operate all electrical equipment according to the
manufacturer’s instructions.
5 3 15
 Only use electrical equipment designed for the purpose.
 Ensure portable electrical equipment is regularly safety
tested. Before use in the department new or personallyowned equipment must be submitted to the workshop
technicians, as must equipment with an out-of-date test
label.
 Check re-test dates on portable electrical equipment and do
not use if date has expired. Refer the equipment to the
workshop technicians for re-test.
 Keep water away from mains electrical sockets.
 Always turn off HV power packs before lifting the lid of an
electrophoresis gel box or disconnecting the cables.
 Only competent workshop personnel should attempt repairs
to electrical equipment.
Risk after
controls
implemented
A
B
AxB
Page 5
Hazard
Chemicals. Depending on the
specific compound these have
the potential to poison (toxics,
including carcinogens,
teratogens and mutagens),
burn (corrosive), irritate,
produce allergenic reactions,
explode, ignite or asphyxiate.
They can affect us by
inhalation, skin contact and
ingestion.
Biological agents may have
the potential to cause disease
(pathogenic micro-organisms
and possibly prions) by
inhalation, ingestion or contact
with wounds and mucous
membranes, physical damage
(animal bites and scratches)
and allergies (by physical
contact and inhaling allergenic
dusts).
Who could
be harmed?
How could they be
harmed?
Risk before
controls
implemented
A
A
AxB
Worker and
those in
vicinity
 Not clearing up
spillages.
 Releases of hazardous
gases, aerosols, volatile
liquids or dusty solids.
 Working in poorly
ventilated areas.
 Using thin disposable
gloves.
5 3 15
Worker and
those in
vicinity, and
those in
contact with
them
Potential routes of
exposure are via
 breathing in an aerosol,
 ingestion
 puncture wounds,
 contaminated dust or
aerosols contacting
mucous membranes.
4 3 12
generic-RA-basic-lab-work-2013-v2
Control measures needed to minimise risk
Risk after
controls
implemented
A
B
AxB
 Clear up all chemical spillages as soon as possible.
 Ensure pertinent hazard data is known.
 Certain hazardous chemicals cannot be used without Home
Office notification or DEFRA approval.
 Ensure appropriate storage, use, disposal and emergency
procedures are in place before commencing work. (Basic
details for dealing with emergency spills and first-aid should
be included in specific risk assessments.)
 Clear up spillages as soon as they happen.
 Work involving airborne releases should be done in a fume
containment facility.
 Wear appropriate disposable gloves with hazardous
chemicals.
 Avoid contact with latex gloves if you have developed a
sensitivity to latex.
 Refer to policy for chemical work on the UHS&E website.
 Refer to the generic risk assessment for chemical work on
the 1st Stop for Health & Safety wiki.
 Clear up all spillages of biological agents as soon as
possible.
 Register GM projects and personnel with the GM Safety
Committee (email [email protected]).
 Categorise the infection hazard (Hazard Group 1 to 4).
 Minimise the production of aerosols and contain any that are
produced in a microbiological safety cabinet.
 Working areas should be swabbed with appropriate
decontaminant solution.
 Workers exposed to animal allergens are required to enrol
on the health surveillance programme.
 Certain pathogenic micro-organisms cannot be used without
Home Office notification or DEFRA approval.
 Refer to policy for biological agents on the UHS&E website.
 Refer to the generic risk assessment for biologocal work on
the 1st Stop for Health & Safety wiki.
Page 6
Hazard
Non-ionising radiation
sources (such as ultraviolet
lamps and microwave ovens)
have the potential to damage
tissues (particularly the eyes
with UV) if exposed.
Lasers can permanently
damage the eyes.
Ultrasonic sound can damage
hearing.
Ionising radiations (produced
by radioactive substances and
X-ray generators) are
potentially hazardous sources
of energy that can effect
chemical changes in biological
molecules resulting in cell and
tissue damage. It is assumed
that there is a linear
relationship between dose and
damage implying there is no
safe level of exposure.
Who could
be harmed?
Worker and
those in
vicinity
Worker and
those in
vicinity
generic-RA-basic-lab-work-2013-v2
How could they be
harmed?
 Use of ultraviolet lamps
for microscopy, shortwave (UVC in the range
100nm to 280nm) lamps
in clean rooms and
biological safety
cabinets, for mutating
micro-organisms and for
visualising bands on
electrophoresis gels.
 Use of microwave ovens
for heating aqueous
liquids and melting small
volumes of solidified
agar.
 Using laser pointers or
laser confocal
microscopes.
 Using ultrasonic
disintegrators.
 Use of radioactive
“tracers” in experimental
methods.
 Spillages/releases or
improper disposals of
unsealed materials.
 Use of X-ray
crystallography
apparatus.
 Use of unshielded
sealed sources.
Risk before
controls
implemented
A
A
AxB
Control measures needed to minimise risk
4 3 12
 Ensure UV shield is in place on UV microscopes.
 Do not tamper with confocal microscopes.
 Replace UV “sterilising” lamps with manual decontamination
and cleaning measures.
 Wear polycarbonate safety spectacles or face shields when
unshielded short-wave UV has to be used.
 Regularly test microwave oven door seals for radiation
leakage.
 Wear hearing protection when using ultrasonics.
 Refer to non-ionising radiation policy on UHS&E website.
5 3 15
 People who need to use ionising radiation must be
registered with the University by completing a Registration
form and submitting it.
 Read and follow the relevant Local Rules for the particular
source.
 Use unsealed sources on containment trays
 Wear disposable gloves with unsealed sources.
 Use appropriate shielding.
 Segregate high-energy (P-32, I-125 and S-35) waste.
 Record use and disposal of unsealed radioactive sources.
 Record use of X-ray machines.
 Refer to policy for ionising radiation on the UHS&E website.
 Refer to the generic risk assessment for ionising radiation
work on the 1st Stop for Health & Safety wiki.
Risk after
controls
implemented
A
B
AxB
Page 7
Hazard
Excessively loud noise can
lead to hearing loss and
tinnitus.
Wearing earphones can make
emergency alarms and
instructions inaudible.
Sharps, such as hypodermic
needles, blades (scalpel,
razor and microtome) and
shards of broken glass, can
cause severe physical injuries.
If contaminated with a
biological, chemical or
radiochemical entity then the
contaminant can pass directly
into the body.
High pressures in gaseous and
in liquid systems and
vacuums can cause problems
when components fail. The
resultant release of energy
can project solids (such as
broken glass) or liquids at high
velocity.
Asphyxiant gases can deplete
the oxygen in the air we
breathe. When liquid nitrogen
(LN) and solid carbon dioxide
(Cardice or Dry-ice) warm up
they produce large volumes of
odourless gas which can
accumulate, particularly in
confined spaces (such as
cold-rooms, other unventilated work rooms or lifts).
Who could
be harmed?
How could they be
harmed?
Worker.
 Workshop machinery.
 Ultrasonic disintegrators
(sonicators) can affect
others in the vicinity.
Worker,
porters, lab
support staff
 Resheathing hypodermic
needles.
 Improper disposal of
needles, blades and
glass.
 Working in histology.
 Removing caps from
glass containers.
Worker and
those in
vicinity.
 Using gases from
compressed gas
cylinders.
 HPLC and Biolistic
systems.
 Filter sterilising.
 Vacuum resin columns.
Worker and
those in
vicinity, and
those trying to
rescue them
 Storing or transporting
LN or solid carbon
dioxide (CO2) in a
confined space.
 Releasing large volumes
of any asphyxiant gas
from a compressed gas
cylinder.
generic-RA-basic-lab-work-2013-v2
Risk before
controls
implemented
A
A
AxB
Control measures needed to minimise risk
3 3 9
 Reduce noise at source where possible (acoustic dampers).
 Ear defenders may be required.
 Put warning signs on lab doors when using a sonicator.
 Don’t use very loud volumes on personal music players.
4 4 16
 Avoid resheathing needles particularly if contaminated with
hazardous materials.
 Promptly dispose of used hypodermic needles, blades and
broken glass in the appropriate designated containers
(Sharpsbins).
 Take care with microtome and razor blades and when
removing caps from glass containers.
 Do not use dangerously-damaged glassware
4 3 12
 Shield areas where a sudden release of a vacuum or liquid
under pressure could project materials likely to damage
people or equipment.
 Wear safety spectacles or face visor.
5 3 15
 The storage and use of LN and solid CO2 (Cardice or Dryice) is prohibited in cold rooms.
 Ensure LN is stored and transported only in a cryo-container
with a loose-fitting lid (e.g. Dewar flask) or a pressure relief
valve, and are only used in well ventilated areas.
 Pressurised LN containers must not be accompanied when
being transported in a lift.
 Confined spaces are appropriately marked, and working
with hazardous materials in them must be subject to a
Specific risk assessment.
Risk after
controls
implemented
A
B
AxB
Page 8
Hazard
Machinery. Domestic
machines (such as blenders
and microwave ovens) can
be hazardous when used for
a purpose for which they
were not designed.
Workshop machinery can kill
or severely maim people.
Trips, slips, falls and
manual handling accidents
can lead to severe injuries in
work areas where there may
be inappropriate (such as
high-level) storage of
materials, wet floors (due to
spillages or in aquariums),
trailing cables or a build-up
of waste materials.
Repetitive movements or
poor posture can lead to
upper limb disorders in
particular.
Occupational stress.
Excessive pressure can lead
to stress, which undermines
performance, is costly to
employers and can make
people ill.
Who
could be
harmed?
How could they be
harmed?
Risk before
controls
implemented
A
A
AxB
Control measures needed to minimise risk
4 3 12
 The use of flammable organic solvents is prohibited in
domestic blenders.
 Refer to warning and information signs on microwave ovens.
 Only authorised workshop personnel are permitted to
operate workshop equipment.
Worker and
those in
vicinity.
 Domestic blenders.
 Domestic microwave ovens.
 Workshop machinery.
Worker.
 Aquarium floors.
 Liquid spillages on floors.
 Handling materials on
shelves above head height.
 Lifting, or moving, heavy
containers (of water, material
for autoclaving or liquid
nitrogen).
4 3 12
 Mop up liquid spillages on floors as soon as practicable.
 Ensure that adequate material storage areas are provided.
 Use “Kiksteps” and not swivel chairs for standing on to
reach items stored on high shelves.
 Implement manual handling training for those at risk. Staff
Development offer training courses.
 Remove waste materials promptly.
Worker.
 Work performed by users of
display screen equipment DSE (such as computers).
 Repetitive manual pipetting.
3 3 9
 Identify “users” of DSE.
 Assess all computer workstations.
 Use powered pipettors for intensive pipetting sessions.
Worker
 excessive demands of the
job
 little control over your work
 lack of support received
from managers and
colleagues
 your relationships at work
 lack of understanding of
your role in the organisation
 changes in your work and
how it’s managed
 stress emanating from
outside work.
4 3 12
 Systems and procedures must be in place for dealing with
issues like absence and discipline.
 Managers should be familiar with advice provided on the
HR website to help improve their understanding of stress
and to take it seriously. They should talk regularly with
those they supervise.
 Refer to the University’s Stress Management information.
generic-RA-basic-lab-work-2013-v2
Risk after
controls
implemented
A
B
AxB
Page 9
Action Plan for additional control measures needed.
Do any stated control measures need to be implemented before this activity can take place?
Action Plan in respect of actions:
Ref
no.
Prepared by:
Action to be taken, including cost
By whom
Target
date
Responsible manager’s signature:
Print name:
Review
date
Outcome at review date
Responsible manager’s signature:
Date:
Print name:
Date:
Assessment must be reviewed annually by responsible manager.
generic-RA-basic-lab-work-2013-v2
Page 10
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