Health and Safety


  • Hazard - a hazard is anything which could cause harm
  • Risk - risk is the chance (probability) of harm being done
  • Risk Assessment (RA) - risk assessment is a careful and informed examination involving:
       identifying the hazards present in the place of work
       identifying the people involved directly or in the vicinity
       quantifying the risks of the hazard causing injury or incident
       deciding on control measures to remove or limit these risks
  • COSHH - (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health regulations) are regulations requiring those using potentially harmful substances to assess and limit risks. Although commonly applied to chemicals, biological agents are also covered by the regulations. When chemicals or biological agents are involved in work to be undertaken, a COSHH assessment will at minimum form part of the overall RA.
  • MSDS - Material Safety Data Sheet
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - safety glasses, goggles, gloves, face masks etc
  • A competent person is officially defined  as "a person with sufficient practical & theoretical knowledge as well as experience of the particular task, plant, machine, procedure, equipment (etc) involved to enable them to identify any defects or weaknesses during examinations, and to assess their importance in relation to the strength & function of the plant, machine, procedure, (etc again) and to be aware of their own particular limitations with regard to the task to be undertaken".

It is recommended that for Risk Assessment purposes, you use a MSDS which relates specifically to the chemical or substance in question, and from the original manufacturer or supplier of the product.

LINKS (intranet log-in required):

School of Biological Sciencies Intranet - Safety web home page:
COSHH Assessment Tutorial:


The University has a legal duty to complete risk assessments for all activities, and thus ensure a safe place to work, study and visit.

These risk assessments should only be used as a guide and do not substitute for specific training (e.g. if you are a computer user you should undertake the course at, and you have to be trained for using certain equipment or reagents). You must seek the advice whenever you are in doubt about the significance of a risk or the steps which can be taken to limit that risk.

No work must be done until you have found the advice you require and a risk assessment has been completed.

You can find risk and health and safety phrases at Sigma Aldrich and MSDS-Europe.

Working out of hours requires of a special pass (see, and working late has an extra requirement (see Undergraduates will not normally allowed to work out of hours:

Normal working hours are: 8.00 - 18.00 Monday to Friday

Out of hours: 7.00-8.00 and 18.30-22.00, plus weekends

Late hours: 22.00-7.00

Risk Assessments

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