DAMTP GK Batchelor Laboratory:
Safety Guidelines

Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics
The University of Cambridge
Silver Street

Cambridge CB3 9EW

Phone: +44 (1223) 337840; Fax: 337918



Contents. 1

1 Background. 2

2 Personnel 3

3 Training. 4

3.1 Generic training. 4

3.2 Specific training. 4

4 Hazards. 4

4.1 Electrical 5

4.2 Mechanical 6

4.2.1 Turntables: 6

4.2.2 Wavemaker 6

4.2.3 Other 7

4.3 Chemical 7

4.3.1 Water 7

4.3.2 Alcohol 8

4.3.3 Glycerine and silicon oil 8

4.3.4 Other solvents. 8

4.3.5 Salts. 8

4.3.6 Dyes. 8

4.3.7 Bleach. 9

4.3.8 Particles. 9

4.3.9 Other chemicals. 9

4.4 Optical 9

4.4.1 Projecting light sources. 9

4.4.2 Diffuse light sources. 10

4.5 Heat 10

4.5.1 Hotplates and heat baths. 10

4.5.2 Immersion heaters. 10

4.5.3 Heat from light sources. 11

4.6 Noise. 11

4.6.1 Low levels of noise. 11

4.6.2  Moderate levels of noise. 11

4.6.3 High levels of noise. 11

4.7 Breakages. 11

4.8 Lifting. 12

4.9 Falls and injury. 12

4.9.1 Falls. 12

4.9.2 Injury. 12

5 Additional points. 13

5.1 Hygiene. 13

5.2 Fire. 13

5.2.1 Preparation. 13

5.2.2 If there is a fire. 13

5.3 Access to Workshop. 14

5.3.1 Entry to workshop. 14

5.3.2 Use of workshop facilities. 14

5.4 Children. 14

5.5 People at risk. 14

6 Working after hours. 15

7 Management, Prevention and Monitoring. 15

7.1 Preparation of proposal 15

7.2 Detailed planning and setting up. 15

7.3 Risk Assessment 16

7.4 Use outside design specification. 16

7.5 Maintenance and monitoring. 16

8 Revisions and Reviews. 16


1 Background

The GK Batchelor Laboratory, originally known as the Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, was founded by Professor G.K. Batchelor in 1964, as part of the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics. The aim of the Laboratory is to pursue research into and provide education on fluid flows. The research in the Laboratory complements the theoretical and numerical work in fluid dynamics in DAMTP and provides the link with the experimental side of the subject.

The Laboratory has an international reputation for innovative experiments on a wide range of flows. Under the founding Director Professor T.B. Benjamin research began into fundamental aspects of wave motions, convection and other flow instabilities. This work has been further expanded, first under the direction of Professor J.S. Turner and subsequently Dr. P.F. Linden to encompass a wide range of flows. The current director, Dr. S.B. Dalziel, took over in 1997 and has continued this tradition. Current research topics include:

·      turbulence and mixing in stably stratified flows

·      thermal and double-diffusive convection

·      gravity currents

·      internal waves and shear instabilities

·      rotating flows, with particular reference to geophysical flows

·      two-phase flows

·      natural ventilation of buildings

·      turbulent dispersion

·      measurement techniques.

Until 2002 the Laboratory was located in the Press Site between Silver Street and Mill Lane. With completion of the Centre for Mathematical Sciences (CMS), in Wilberforce Road, the Laboratory relocated to purpose-built facilities in autumn 2002.

The Laboratory also houses the experimental work of the Institute of Theoretical Geophysics (ITG) under the direction of Professor H.E. Huppert. This Institute undertakes research into fluid motions associated with the Earth.

The Laboratory is used to give students experience of fluid flows. An undergraduate course (Part IIB) and a graduate course (Part III) are run annually at which a wide range of experiments is demonstrated. The Laboratory also plays an integral part in the Natural Environmental Research Council’s annual National Summer School in Geophysical and Environmental Fluid Dynamics, where students carry out experiments as part of the school. In addition, the Laboratory plays a large role in Open Days and Departmental events for the general public and other groups.

The Laboratory has state-of-the-art equipment, including four high-precision rotating turntables, two large wave tanks, two flumes and two wind tunnels. Sophisticated instrumentation is available for flow measurements, including a high-precision densitometer, conductivity probes, thermistors and thermocouples, hot-wire and hot-film probes. There are also six DigImage image processing systems for particle tracking and other flow measurements, coupled to the latest video systems and computing facilities.

This equipment is built and maintained in the DAMTP Workshop, and the Laboratory has four Technical Staff and one Senior Technical Officer to support the experimental work.

2 Personnel

The following personnel are responsible for the running of the laboratory. Note that some of them are located in Silver Street, while others have already moved to CMS.




Director of the Fluid Dynamics Laboratory

Dr. Stuart Dalziel
ph: 337911
e-mail: S.Dalziel@damtp.cam.ac.uk

Overall responsibility for the laboratory.

Deputy Director of the Fluid Dynamics Laboratory

Dr. David Leppinen
ph: 337744
e-mail: D.M.Leppinen@damtp.cam.ac.uk

Assists the Director in some areas.

Head Technician

Mr. David Page-Croft
ph: 337842
e-mail: D.Page-Croft@damtp.cam.ac.uk

Responsible for workshop, construction and maintenance of equipment, ordering and many aspects of day-to-day running of laboratory. Departmental first aider

Electronics Technician


Design, construction, maintenance & repair of electronic equipment; electrical testing of equipment; maintenance of lasers; assistance with setting up experiments


Mr. Brian Dean
ph: 337842
e-mail: B.L.Dean@damtp.cam.ac.uk

Construction and maintenance of equipment, assistance with setting up experiments


Mr. Trevor Parkin
ph: 337842
e-mail: T.Parkin@damtp.cam.ac.uk

Construction and maintenance of equipment, assistance with setting up experiments

Technical Officer

Dr. Mark Hallworth
ph: 337841
e-mail: hallwort@esc.cam.ac.uk

Technical officer attached to the ITG.

If you require technical support or have a question about safety you should normally contact either the Director or the Head Technician. For more immediate dangers, please seek the advice of the other technicians or the technical officer if neither the Director nor Head Technician are available.

3 Training

3.1 Generic training

All users of the Laboratory must ensure they have received appropriate training prior to commencing any work. The relevant supervisor, PI or host must confirm the receipt of such training.

Research Students must attend the Annual Research Students’ Safety Seminar, run each October by the Safety Office. Postdocs and others may also attend this seminar, and are strongly encouraged to do so. Any student failing to do so (e.g. due to a different start date), or other new personnel must consult with the Director of the Laboratory in order that any need for training may be established and filled. In many cases postdocs and visitors will have had the broad experience necessary, but may still need specific training on University procedures.

3.2 Specific training

In addition to the generic training provided through mechanisms such as the Annual Research Students’ Safety Seminar, there will often be a need for training on a specific item of equipment that will be used during the course of the research. It is the responsibility of the individual laboratory user, and the responsibility of their supervisor/PI/host, to identify the need for such training and ensure that this need is filled. In most cases another existing user of the Laboratory will provide the training, but in some cases outside training may be required. The Director of the Laboratory should be consulted if there is any uncertainty about the type or source of training.

4 Hazards

All laboratories are inherently dangerous places. It is essential to maintain safe working practices in order to prevent injury to people and damage to property. The hazards in the Fluid Dynamics Laboratory may be less obvious than in many other laboratories yet can be just as dangerous. The main hazards fall into five broad categories:

·      Electrical – water and electricity make a lethal combination

·      Mechanical – rotating tables, the wave maker, pumps and other moving equipment have the potential of jamming, tearing or throwing other equipment around

·      Chemical – while the majority of substances used in the laboratory are relatively harmless, they can promote dermatitis and related skin conditions, may be poisonous if ingested and can damage your eyes

·      Optical – powerful visible light sources are used in many of the experiments

·      Heat – hot water, heating elements, heat baths and light sources producing high temperatures

·      Breakages - thermometers, glassware and metals

·      Lifting - many items of equipment are heavy or cumbersome to lift or may require special lifting equipment.

·      Falls and injury - wet floors can be slippery

These main issues are dealt with in the following subsections. You should familiarise yourself with these and re-read them at least annually. If you are unsure about something, please ask. If you see something you believe to be dangerous, please tell either the Head Technician or Director of the Laboratory.

Most of the safety procedures are based on “common sense”. Remember that a tidy working environment will reduce the chance of accidents.

All accidents and “near misses” should be reported to either the Head Technician or the Director of the Laboratory, no matter how insignificant they may seem. In addition, those involved should complete an Accident Report Form and return this to the Director of the Laboratory. Blank copies of the Accident Report Form may be obtained from reception.

4.1 Electrical

Spills of water are inevitable in the laboratory. If such spills occur over or close to electrical or electronic equipment then this represents a serious risk of electrocution. The following checklist will help reduce this risk to acceptable levels:

1.    Never position mains-operated equipment where there is a danger of it getting wet through splashes or leaks.

2.    If the equipment is located above the tank or where it may be knocked into the tank, then ensure the equipment is securely attached. If necessary, the technicians will make suitable brackets or other attachment mechanisms.

3.    Ensure all equipment used near liquids is protected by an RCD (Residual Current Detector). This device will automatically shut of the mains supply if the current returning along the neutral wire is not equal to that supplied along the live wire. The RCD should be positioned where it cannot get wet under any circumstances, and it should be tested at least monthly using the in-built “test” button. You should not assume the use of an RCD removes the danger of electrocution: it does not, but does lesson the risks. Note that at CMS, all the Laboratory sockets have RCDs fitted, either as part of the socket front, or as a separate device on the power pole. Sockets in other areas, such as the corridors or IT cupboard, are not necessarily RCD protected.

4.    Never turn on or off, or alter in other ways, any mains-operated equipment when you have wet hands.

5.    Except in emergencies, do not operate mains equipment when standing on a wet floor and never when standing in water deep enough to come above the sole of your shoe.

6.    Check visually all equipment for loose or damaged wires, or other features which may represent an electrical hazard.

7.    All electrical equipment should have a dated safety check sticker attached. These stickers show both the date the equipment was last tested, and the date the next test is due. The equipment must not be used if the date due has passed, but should instead be referred to the technicians for testing. Additionally, do not use equipment that does not have a safety sticker, the sticker was issued by someone other than the Department, or the equipment has any visible damage.

8.    Never operate equipment from outside the laboratory until it has been safety checked. This includes both electrical testing (see above), and a visual check of other features by a suitably qualified person.

4.2 Mechanical

Electric motors are used in a number of large and small apparatus. In addition to the electrical safety noted above, these represent a hazard due to possible entanglement, crushing, abrasion and movement of insecure loads.

4.2.1 Turntables:

1.    Never operate wearing loose clothing or jewellery that may become entangled. Similarly long hair should be tied back if there is a danger of snagging.

2.    Ensure your footwear is suitable for walking around the table without slipping or tripping.

3.    Ensure all apparatus is mounted securely on the table and that there are not dangling wires. The technicians will construct suitable mounting brackets if none are available.

4.    Never have sharp objects protruding from the table, or other items overhanging the table edge to any great extent.

5.    Where possible, set up experiments to avoid the need to walk around the turntable while it is in motion.

6.    Ensure there is adequate space to move freely around and past the turntable while it is in motion.

7.    Position a security barrier to prevent others from walking past the turntable while it is in motion.

8.    Keep members of the public well clear of the table when rotating.

9.    Never operate the table in complete darkness.

10.Do not rotate in speeds in excess of 30rpm (3rad/s).

11.Do not use a turntable if you are in the third trimester of a pregnancy or your movements are otherwise impaired.

4.2.2 Wavemaker

1.    Never operate the wave maker with the safety barrier around the motor open.

2.    Never try to stop the wave maker by hand.

3.    Do not overfill the wave tank, or operate it without the foam behind the wave maker. Failure to observe this will cause it to splash onto the motor housing.

4.    Turn off and unplug when not in use.

4.2.3 Other

1.    Ensure guards are properly installed.

2.    Do not place hands or objects in the way of any moving parts.

3.    Turn off and, where appropriate, disconnect before making any adjustments.

4.    Do not tamper with any limit switches or cut-offs.

5.    Ensure the “off” switch is located in an easily accessible and obvious place.

4.3 Chemical

The main chemical substances used in the laboratory are salts, dyes, water and alcohol. A small supply of other chemicals is also kept for specific applications. Regardless of the chemical, you should check the current safety information before use. Copies of the COSHH materials safety data sheets may be obtained from the Head Technician. The notes below are only for additional guidance.

In all cases:

1.    Do not leave open or unlabelled containers lying around.

2.    Label all containers using insoluble pen and suitable labels.

3.    Make yourself fully aware of the potential hazards involved.

4.    Never be tempted to determine the contents of an unknown container by smell, taste or chemical reaction.

5.    Never establish flow through a tube/siphon using your mouth.

6.    Never use your mouth to fill a pipette.

7.    If you are uncertain of the correct method of disposal, please check first.

8.    Avoid the possibility of any chemicals coming in contact with electrical or other equipment.

9.    Chemicals labelled R40, R45, R46, R47, R61, R63 and R64 must not be used if you are pregnant. Special assessment of other chemicals should be made.

4.3.1 Water

The main dangers from water by itself are contributing to electrocution and making the laboratory floor slippery.

1.    Avoid splashes and spills wherever possible.

2.    Always mop up spills immediately.

3.    If you are unable to clean up the spill quickly, cordon off the area affected or erect “Slippery Floor” signs.

4.    Do not operate electrical equipment (unless specifically designed for operating “wet”) while there is water on the floor.

5.    Never drink water from the laboratory.

6.    Do not attach an experiment directly to the mains water in the main laboratory as this may cause contamination of the drinking water supply.

4.3.2 Alcohol

Propan-2-ol (isopropyl alcohol) is often used for cleaning laboratory equipment and may be used to match refractive indices or reduce the density of water solutions. Do not use either ethanol or methanol for any purposes without prior consultation. In addition to the safety issues, it also damages most of our tanks.

1.    Avoid breathing vapours.

2.    Do not use in enclosed spaces.

3.    Do not use the pure liquid for experiments.

4.    Do not use solutions more concentrated than 30% by volume in experiments.

5.    Do not leave dilute solutions in open experimental apparatus.

4.3.3 Glycerine and silicon oil

Do not use without prior consultation.

4.3.4 Other solvents

Do not use any solvents, other than water and propan-2-ol without prior consultation.

4.3.5 Salts

The majority of the salt used in the laboratory is sodium chloride (common salt). Do not use any other form of salt without prior consultation.

1.    Avoid spillages and sweep up any accidental spills immediately.

2.    Salt solutions are highly corrosive and may render previously safe equipment unsafe, so avoid splashes etc.

3.    Do not use salt solutions with equipment not designed for such uses. Failure to observe this will lead to damage to the tank, potential spills and electrolysis reactions. If in doubt, please ask.

4.    Always rinse with fresh water any tanks, pumps or other equipment used with salt solutions.

5.    If you are using electrolysis for any reason, do not collect the evolved hydrogen and chlorine gas in a container.

4.3.6 Dyes

The main dyes used in the laboratory are food colourings, sodium fluorescein and potassium permanganate. If using potassium permanganate, refer to COSHH data sheets first. Do not use other dyes without prior consultation.

1.    Avoid spillages and mop up any accidental spills immediately.

2.    Avoid contact with hands or clothes. Disposable gloves are available by the entrance to the main laboratory.

3.    Do not use bleach to try to remove dye from skin.

4.    Where possible, avoid using in high concentrations.

4.3.7 Bleach

Bleach may be used to remove the colour from an experiment where food colouring has been used. Note that this is most effective with red food colouring.

1.    Avoid using too much bleach: the oxidation reaction to remove the colour takes some time.

2.    Avoid splashing bleach onto clothes, skin or other equipment. For clothing and skin, remove splashes immediately with fresh water. For equipment, wipe the bleach off, disconnecting from electric supply if appropriate.

3.    Do not use bleach to clean your hands.

4.    Do not use concentrated bleach to clean work surfaces or equipment.

5.    Do not use bleach, even when diluted, to clean aluminium components.

4.3.8 Particles

The main particles used are Pliolite, polystyrene beads, aluminium carbide (grinding powder), Pearlescence and titanium dioxide. Do not use other particles without prior consultation.

1.    Carefully sweep or mop up any spilt particles.

2.    Avoid the creation of dust.

3.    If the handling of the particles is liable to create a dust, use a protective mask and goggles. Always use such protection when transferring particles from the sieves to containers.

4.    Ensure that dust cannot enter other equipment, particularly video recorders.

5.    Keep the particle room tidy, sweeping up any spillages.

4.3.9 Other chemicals

Do not use without prior consultation.

1.    Always ensure you are familiar with the requirements for safe handling and disposal.

2.    Kits for dealing with chemical spills are located in each laboratory.

3.    Containers are available for the safe disposal of excess or used chemicals. Notify the Head Technician or Director or the Laboratory who will arrange for the safe disposal of the residue.

4.    Use hazard warning labels.

4.4 Optical

Powerful light sources are frequently used in a wide range of experiments. These light sources can cause damage to eyes if viewed directly. The two categories of light sources in common use: projecting light sources and diffuse light sources.

Note that lasers cannot be used in any of the DAMTP laboratories, but some of the other light sources that may be used are nearly as dangerous.

4.4.1 Projecting light sources

The three main types of projecting light sources are standard slide projectors, 1kW linear photographic lamps and 300W arc lamps. Seek guidance before using other light sources.

1.    Never look directly at the light source.

2.    Ensure others cannot accidentally look directly at the light source. This is especially important for those working in the open plan areas of the lab.

3.    Prevent specula reflections by suitable shielding or masking of the light.

4.    Do not locate the light sources close to flammable or delicate materials.

5.    Do not impede airflow through ventilation slots.

6.    The lamps should not be located closer to the tank than (a) 0.5m for slide projectors, (b) 1m for 1kW photographic lamps and (c) 1.5m for the 300W arc lamps.

7.    Ensure items of clothing, hands etc. cannot accidentally enter the light beam closer than the distances given above as this may result in burning.

8.    If masking the light beam closer than the distances given above, use only non-flammable materials (e.g. aluminium) and attach a warning (“Hot!”) as appropriate.

9.    Where feasible, use a ‘cold mirror’ to reduce the heat in the beam. Also consider using a coloured mirror to filter out the unnecessary wavelengths.

4.4.2 Diffuse light sources

Typically, these take the form of fluorescent lights, either singly or in banks of multiple lights. For visible light, these sources do not represent a danger over and above those associated with their electrical nature.

4.5 Heat

4.5.1 Hotplates and heat baths

Hotplates and heat baths have the potential to cause serious burns, either by direct contact, or through spillages or leaks of the fluid or other substance being heated. Care should be taken in the positioning of these, to ensure any accidental spillage or leak cannot burn anyone. Any associated equipment must be checked to ensure it can withstand the temperatures to which it is exposed. Note that the period of exposure is important as well as the temperature. Some materials (e.g. PVC) can withstand short periods at high temperatures (above 50°C), but will suffer creep, distortion and premature failure if exposed for longer periods.

Heat baths and hotplates must not be used to heat solutions of volatile (especially flammable) solvents, and heat baths should not be used with corrosive chemicals (e.g. salt water). Care must also be taken to ensure heat baths are never used under dry conditions.

4.5.2 Immersion heaters

Immersion heaters must only be used in equipment that is designed for this purpose. The use of inappropriate materials or accidental contact with surfaces incapable of withstanding the high temperatures of the heating element can both damage the equipment and gives rise to the risk of serious burns.

Immersion heaters must only be used in conjunction with a RCD, and the fluid in the tank should be independently earthed. Care must also be taken to ensure immersion heaters are never used under dry conditions, or with fluids containing corrosive or volatile components (e.g. potassium permanganate or alcohol).

4.5.3 Heat from light sources

Light sources provide the dual risk of direct heat from the casing and, especially in the case of arc lamps, a considerable amount of radiated heat. Refer to §4.4.1 for further details.

4.6 Noise

4.6.1 Low levels of noise

Most of the apparatus in the laboratory is relatively quiet and represents no direct hazard. No special provision is required, except for those items listed under sections 4.6.2 and 4.6.3.

4.6.2 Moderate levels of noise

The following fixed items, however, produce noise levels which may become hazardous through prolonged exposure or if working close to the source of the noise:

·      The large flume (main lab)

·      The wind tunnels

·      The small flume (tank room)

The following points should be considered

1.    The noise levels may cause fatigue, headaches or other signs of stress if subject to prolonged exposure.

2.    The use of ear protection and frequent breaks is recommended for all use extending beyond 20 minutes if you are working in the general proximity of the noise source.

3.    The use of ear protection is required for those working within 2m of the noise source.

4.    Try to avoid using the apparatus while others are sharing the lab space.

5.    Warn other users of the lab space and make sure they have ear protection available.

4.6.3 High levels of noise

The following items produce levels of noise which are potentially harmful even with only short exposure:

·      No laboratory equipment at date of writing, although activities relating to the construction and maintenance of buildings and equipment may produce such noise levels.

4.7 Breakages

The occasional breakage is inevitable in the laboratory. However you should always exercise care to avoid breakages and, if one occurs, clean up any materials spilt, or cordon off the area until remedial action has been taken.

1.    In the case of broken equipment, please report this as soon as possible to the Head Technician or Director.

2.    Protect any sharp or dangerous edges immediately.

3.    For broken glassware, carefully sweep up all glass fragments and dispose of in the “Broken Glass” container by the entrance to the main laboratory.

4.    Other sharp items can be disposed of in the “Sharps” container located under the sink by the entrance to the main laboratory.

5.    For broken mercury thermometers, seal the remains in a plastic bag. A kit for dealing with the spilt mercury is located above the sink by the door into the main laboratory. Follow the instructions on this kit. It is better to overestimate the size of the contaminated area than to underestimate it. Always use gloves for this operation. Label all bags appropriately and pass over to the Head Technician for disposal.

6.    Deal with other chemical spills in the manner stipulated in the appropriate safety literature. You should ensure you are familiar with the relevant procedures (e.g. those stated in the relevant COSHH data sheets, available from the Head Technician) prior to using any chemicals.

7.    Liquid containment wadding and other materials used for containing or cleaning up a spill are located by the main entrance to the laboratory.

4.8 Lifting

Many of the items in the laboratory are heavy or awkward to move.

1.    Always lift with your knees bent and your back straight.

2.    Never lift by sharp edges or thin parts.

3.    Ensure your handhold is sufficiently strong and secure.

4.    Ensure all attached items are secure and not likely to fall.

5.    Always seek help to lift large or heavy items.

6.    Trolleys, a mobile hoist and a lifting platform are available from the workshop to assist in the movement of large or heavy items.

4.9 Falls and injury

As with most of the other safety issues, exercising due care will minimise the likelihood of falls and injuries. It may be best, however, on medical grounds for some people to avoid certain activities.

4.9.1 Falls

1.    Never run in the laboratory.

2.    Mop up any spills immediately.

3.    Never position cables or equipment across access ways.

4.    Never stand on chairs - ladders are available.

5.    Never stand on the very top of the ladder (i.e. no higher than the large “platform” step).

6.    Do not use a ladder if you are in the third trimester of a pregnancy.

4.9.2 Injury

1.    The Head Technician is one of the Departmental First Aiders.

2.    Make yourself familiar with the name and location of the other Departmental First Aiders.

3.    Report all injuries (even minor cuts) to the Head Technician.

4.    An eye rinse is available by the entrance to the main laboratory. Alternatively, and often more effectively, wash your eyes under a running tap, running the tap for a few seconds first to ensure any contamination has been removed.

5.    Wash all minor cuts under clean running water immediately.

6.    Use tools correctly: use the correct size and do not force; knives should be retracted or sheathed after use; “snap off” blades should be disposed on in the “Sharps” container under the sink by the entrance to the main laboratory.

5 Additional points

The issues in this section have broader implications extending beyond the laboratory.

5.1 Hygiene

1.    Do not eat or drink food in the laboratory.

2.    Do not drink water from taps in the laboratory.

3.    Do not store food in the laboratory, even in sealed containers.

4.    Do not dispose of food in the laboratory.

5.    Do not use the laboratory sinks for cleaning glasses, plates or cutlery.

6.    Always wash your hands after working in the laboratory.

5.2 Fire

The issues here apply wherever you are working (in the laboratory, your office or elsewhere in the department).

5.2.1 Preparation

1.    Determine all the escape routes open to you.

2.    Locate the nearest call point (fire alarm switch).

3.    Familiarise yourself with the location of the nearest fire extinguisher and their instructions.

5.2.2 If there is a fire

1.    If the fire alarm sounds, switch off all equipment and leave the building immediately. You may leave the computers and printers running.

2.    Do not run.

3.    Do not lock the doors.

4.    Do not return to the building until you have been advised that it is safe.

5.    Never use water to extinguish electrical or chemical fires.

6.    Do not place yourself at risk attempting to extinguish a fire.

5.3 Access to Workshop

5.3.1 Entry to workshop

Access to the workshop is restricted to authorised personnel only. While members of the Laboratory are welcome to enter the workshop to seek assistance or advice from one of the technicians, they should not proceed beyond the assembly bench area unless invited to do so by a technician. Visitors should not normally be brought into the workshop without first consulting the technicians.

5.3.2 Use of workshop facilities

Laboratory users should not attempt to use any of the facilities or machines within the workshop without first seeking permission from the Head Technician. You may be permitted to use hand tools and the drilling machines if you are able to demonstrate your competence to the Head Technician. You will not be permitted, under normal circumstances, to use the other machine tools.

5.4 Children

The University and its Insurers discourage the presence of children on University premises, except on Open Days and social events. Moreover, they require the Department to have its own policy that is repeated below:

1.    Children brought into the Department should never be left unaccompanied

2.    Children should never be allowed into hazardous areas like the laboratory (except under the special conditions of Open Day), workshops or the kitchen - and remember that children like exploring

3.    Children should not be brought into the Department routinely - the building is not designed and above all it is not used with their safety in mind (e.g. building work, doors with automatic closers, congested car park, large adults hurrying along narrow corridors or stairs and not expecting to see small persons in their path.). If you need to bring a child in, remember the factor of the unexpected and take special care accordingly.

If any member of the Department needs to bring a child/children in on more than a very occasional basis, please contact the head of department’s secretary beforehand to see if special arrangements need to be and can be made. At parties to which parents may bring their children, the organiser of the party should consider this question carefully.

5.5 People at risk

Some medical conditions may make it inadvisable for you to undertake certain activities within the laboratory, or to restrict such activities to the daytime where assistance is available. Conditions and activities that may be incompatible may include:

1.    The use of the turntables if you suffer from dizzy spells or uncontrolled epilepsy.

2.    The use of certain chemicals if you suffer dermatitis or respiratory problems.

3.    Moving equipment if you suffer back problems.

4.    Lifting or using ladders if you are pregnant.

6 Working after hours

Special care should be taken if working in the laboratory after hours or during the weekends. In most cases the level of risk is not altered significantly, but the consequences of an accident could be substantially greater. Before undertaking any work after hours, you should consider the following:

1.    Are there other people also working in the laboratory who could offer assistance or summon aid in the event of an accident? If the answer to this is “no”, then you should avoid high-risk activities. For example, experiments on the rotating tables requiring direct manual interaction with the turntable should not be undertaken if you are the only person in the laboratory.

2.    You should familiarise yourself with how to summon the University Security Patrol. This may be essential if you need to summon an ambulance, for example, as they may not otherwise be able to gain access to the laboratory.

3.    Everyone working after hours should sign in on the whiteboard provided for this purpose near the security panel by the main entrance to the laboratory. It is equally important that you remove your name from this list when you leave.

4.    If you are undertaking experiments and are the only person working in the laboratory, you should arrange a regular telephone check-in with a friend or colleague so that an alarm may be raised if you can no longer be contacted due to an accident.

7 Management, Prevention and Monitoring

The need to take Health and Safety issues into account must be remembered at all stages in the life of a research project in the Laboratory.

7.1 Preparation of proposal

Issues such as whether a proposed piece of research can be conducted safely should be addressed before submitting a research proposal or making other plans to undertake the work. While it is not necessary to solve all problems at this point, the fact that there are problems that will need solving should be recognised. Moreover, it is important to incorporate in any budge for the work an allowance (both time and money) to allow a satisfactory solution to be developed.

In many cases careful design or detailed procedures are all that are required, and existing equipment can be adapted to avoid many of the issues. However, in other cases, considerable care must be exercised and a significant cost must be met in order to achieve safe working practices. Where the project requires safety measures beyond those for a ‘standard’ experiment, it is essential that funds are available for these measures. Failure to secure such funds may prevent the work from being undertaken.

7.2 Detailed planning and setting up

The development of detailed designs and procedures must adhere to the general guidelines found in this document. Anything falling outside these guidelines must be discussed with suitably qualified and experienced individuals in order to both assess the risk and determine any appropriate safety measures that should be incorporated. In such cases, full documentation of the risks and preventive measures, and the operating procedures, should be produced prior to the associated equipment being commissioned. This documentation, and the experimental setup, should also be reviewed by a suitably qualified person (e.g. the Director of the Laboratory), prior to use.

7.3 Risk Assessment

A detailed Risk Assessment is required for each experiment prior to use. This risk assessment will include any documentation or operating procedures developed under 7.2. The Risk Assessment should also include a general description of the experiment, the possible hazards and counter measures, and emergency procedures. In many cases it is sufficient to refer to this document when discussing the main procedures. However, for any activity falling outside the scope of this document, details must be provided to a level at least comparable to that found in this document.

Of particular importance is the identification and clear labelling of shutoff points for the supply of electricity, water and other services (e.g. compressed air). These shutoff points should remain safely accessible while the experiment is in operation.

The Risk Assessment should include a list of all portable electrical devices used in the setup, and record the date at which the next test is due for each of these devices.

7.4 Use outside design specification

Equipment should normally be used for the purpose envisaged by the manufacturer and within the manufacturer’s design specification. For equipment constructed in the Laboratory, any significant deviation from previous usage must be discussed with the Director of the Laboratory. Similarly, any use of commercial equipment outside the design specification must be discussed first with the Director of the Laboratory. Failure to do so may damage the equipment and/or render it unsafe.

Use of equipment outside its design specification will normally require a greater level of detail to be incorporated in the Risk Assessment. In some cases, a regular testing and maintenance programme may be required.

7.5 Maintenance and monitoring

Equipment will remain safe only so long as it is used within its design parameters, it is regularly maintained, and the operators are competent to use it. It is the responsibility of the individual researcher, and of their supervisor or principal investigator, to ensure these conditions are met.

To monitor satisfactory Health & Safety performance, all equipment and experimental setups in the Laboratory are subject to a regular review. This review exists both as a paper exercise, and as inspection of the state of the equipment, its setup, conformity of tests (e.g. electrical or pressure), and other related areas. Failure to keep the required documentation up to date, or to follow acceptable laboratory practise, may lead to the cessation of the associated experiments.

Risk Assessments must be reviewed annually (more frequently for high-risk activities) or when there is a significant change in the setup or operating procedures. Any faults found in the equipment must be logged in the Risk Assessment, and the cause of any recurring fault analysed and eliminated.

8 Revisions and Reviews

These guidelines will be updated from time-to-time as the practices within the laboratory, perceived risks and legal requirements change. In addition, the guidelines will be reviewed in detail on an annual basis. It is strongly recommended that you re-read these guidelines on a regular basis.

Last updated October, 2002.