Laboratory

header-Laboratory.

Biological Agents

Risk of:

  • Infection.
  • Allergies.
  • Asthma.
  • Harm to unborn child.

Possible causes:

  • Exposure to infectious specimens, unfixed tissues or body fluids.
  • Exposure to infectious aerosols during processing or sample container breakage in centrifuge.
  • Poor work practices e.g. eating or drinking in the laboratory, poor hygiene.
  • Unsuitable specimen packaging and transport.
  • Inappropriate or inadequate PPE.
  • Poor maintenance of engineering controls e.g. safety cabinets.
  • Stagnant eye wash / emergency shower stations.

Chemical Agents

Risk of:

  • Health effects such as poisoning, allergies, eye damage, burns (including freeze burns), harm to unborn child.
  • Cancer.
  • Fire.
  • Explosion.
  • Asphyxiation.

Possible causes:

  • Exposure to latex consumables or enzymes.
  • Exposure to corrosive, irritating, toxic, carcinogenic, mutagenic or teratogenic chemicals via splashes or spills, inhalation, absorption or skin contact.
  • Use of flammable or explosive chemicals, mishandling of gas cylinders.
  • Inappropriate or inadequate PPE.
  • Inadequate labelling of prepared reagents.
  • Inadequate hygiene measures.
  • Poor maintenance of engineering controls e.g. fume hoods, down-draft extractor tables.
  • Operator error.
  • Equipment failure.
  • Careless handling and storage.
  • Contact with very cold surfaces or fluids such as liquefied gases.
  • Use of incorrect gases e.g. in anaerobic incubator.
  • Asphyxiation from some non-toxic, non-flammable gases such as nitrogen or carbon dioxide.

Electricity

Risk of:

  • Burns.
  • Fire.
  • Electrocution.

Possible causes:

  • Spill of liquid over electrical appliance.
  • Production of static electricity when transferring or pouring flammable liquids.
  • Unmaintained electrical equipment.
  • Faulty or untested Residual Current Devices (RCDs).
  • Overloaded sockets or extension leads.

Ergonomic Hazards

Risk of:

  • Pain in back, hands or arms.

Possible causes:

  • Awkward posture e.g. working at microscopes, bio-safety cabinets.
  • Repetitive movements such as pipetting, keyboarding at workstations, operating microtomes, using cell counters.
  • Standing or sitting for long periods of time.
  • Use of computers, inputting large amounts of data.
  • Poor equipment design or set up.

 

Explosion

Risk of:

  • Physical injury.
  • Death.

Possible causes:

  • Implosion of vacuum equipment.
  • Explosion of pressure equipment such as autoclaves.

 

Fire

Risk of:

  • Burns.
  • Smoke inhalation.
  • Death.

Possible causes:

  • Storage and use of flammable, explosive and oxidising substances or gases e.g. alcohol.
  • Undertaking hazardous work operations.
  • Faulty electrics.
  • Use of appliances with hot surfaces or heating elements.
  • Storing solvents in non - spark proof fridges.

 

Glassware / Sharps

Risk of:

  • Cuts.
  • Inoculation injury.
  • Infection.

Possible causes:

  • Broken glassware e.g. test tubes, flasks, centrifuge tubes.
  • Accidental injection with needles, pipettes, broken glass, slides, cover slips.
  • Handling microtome knives, scalpels and disposable blades.
  • Adjusting or unblocking probes on analysers.

Hot / Cold Items

Risk of:

  • Burns.

Possible causes:

  • Contact with hot paraffin wax in tissue processors.
  • Working with hot items e.g. reagents or agars.
  • Contact with hot surfaces e.g. ovens, autoclaves, heating plates or burners.
  • Contact with cold surfaces e.g. cytochambers or dry ice.

Ionising Radiation

Risk of:

  • Genetic defects.
  • Cancer.

Possible causes:

  • Exposure to radioactive material whilst performing disease diagnosis (in vitro or test tube studies on blood, urine or cells).
  • Spillage of unsealed radioactive material.

 

Lone Working

Risk of:

  • Increased vulnerability in event of incident.

Possible causes:

  • Working alone providing an out of hours service.
  • Unsafe system of work.

Machines & Equipment

Risk of:

  • Entanglement.
  • Eye strain.
  • Physical injury such as trapped fingers.
  • Explosion.
  • Hit by parts.

Possible causes:

  • Use of rotating equipment such as mixers, centrifuges.
  • Improper use / unbalancing of equipment e.g. centrifuges not properly balanced.
  • Broken interlocks on equipment.
  • Working with microscopes, computers etc.
  • Implosion of vacuum equipment.
  • Explosion of pressure equipment such as autoclaves.
  • Fingers caught in lids of machines.

Noise

Risk of:

  • Hearing damage or loss.
  • Physiological effects.
  • Work related stress.
  • Increased risk of accidents.

Possible causes:

  • Exposure to noisy equipment (large analysers, biological safety cabinets, centrifuges, refrigerator fans) or noisy tasks.

 

Non Ionising Radiation

Risk of:

  • Eye damage.
  • Heating effects / burns.
  • Skin cancer.

Possible Causes:

  • Exposure to UV light in bio-safety cabinet or if carrying out fluorescence procedures.
  • Exposure of employees with pacemakers to microwaves in microwave based processors.

Slips,Trips & Falls

Risk of:

  • Minor injuries such as cuts to major injuries such as broken bones, concussion and even death.

Possible causes:

  • Wet, uneven or damaged floors.
  • Loose or trailing cables.
  • Improper use of floor mats e.g. histology laboratory.

 

Vibration

Risk of:

  • Stress.

Possible causes:

  • Exposure to vibrating equipment such as mixers or vortexes.

 

Further Information

For further information on related controls click here.

Note: This is not an exhaustive list of hazards and risks.