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General lab safety

Working in research and teaching laboratories has potential dangers that can be minimised by the sensible actions detailed below. Most of these are mandatory but they do not entirely remove the risk. 

Observation, awareness and common sense remain your main protection.

General behaviour

All students, postgraduates and staff taking part in experimental research or practicals should observe sensible standards of behaviour, conduct themselves with good manners and consideration for others.  

Importantly, they should be aware of the experiments being carried out around them. 

To this end, you must:

  • Make sure that risk assessments have been written and agreed before any work begins
  • Observe laboratory regulations and guidelines
  • Do not disturb others working in laboratory unless it is absolutely necessary

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

PPE is a requirement in all lab areas- unless otherwise stated.

In order to identify the correct PPE it is strongly recommended that you attend the course “Selection of Laboratory Personal Protective Equipment” (HS023) run by OHSD through CAPD before you complete any risk assessments and start any work.

1 Eye Protection:

  • As a precaution against eye injury safety spectacles must be worn at all times in the laboratories.
  • These spectacles are obtainable at point of induction and if lost or damaged a replacement should be immediately requested and made available.
  • If you normally wear prescription spectacles you should either wear the safety spectacles over your own spectacles or purchase your own prescription safety spectacles (most eye care providers will have these available).

2 Laboratory coats:

  • Laboratory coats must be worn at all times while in the laboratories and must be removed immediately on exiting the laboratory to prevent the spread of contamination.
  • Clean lab coats can be found in the blue holder on the 4th floor, next to the liquid nitrogen.  
  • Dirty lab coats can be placed in the red container on the 4th floor, next to the autoclave.

3 Gloves:

  • Protective gloves are available from the Stores (in both the Fogg and JP buildings) and should be worn when necessary and as defined by your risk assessment - See the 'Workplace and general safety' page for information on risk assessments.
  • No gloves are allowed outside the laboratory.
  • Workers should be aware that no type of glove can exclude all substances and that glove materials themselves can be allergenic. You should check with the manufacturer as to whether the glove type is suitable for the work being carried out.
  • Contaminated gloves must not be worn.

4 Dust masks:

  • Dust masks for use when working with non-toxic dusts or powders are available from the stores.
  • These masks should always be used when making or scraping thin layer chromatography plates.

5 Footwear

  • The wearing of open-toed shoes in laboratories is potentially dangerous in the event of a chemical spillage, and is strongly discouraged.
  • When moving heavy objects that could crush the toes or feet, suitable protective footwear must be worn.


Many of the forms you will need for health and safety matters can be found on the QMUL OHSD useful forms page including:

  • COSHH risk assessment
  • BioCOSHH risk assessment
  • Genetically Modified Organisms (Deliberate Release) Regulations 2002
  • Genetically Modified Organisms - Environmental Risk Assessment.

For more information on filling in these forms visit the biological safety page (for BioCOSHH and GMO information) and the chemical safety page (for COSHH infomation).

General waste disposal

  • There are several waste disposal routes from the buildings. 
  • Most paper waste can be recycled.  
  • Any contaminated waste can be placed into yellow bags and taken to the storage bins on the 4th floor, next to the autoclave. These bags must not weigh more than 5 kg.  

For information about disposing of biological/chemical waste visit the biological safety or the chemical safety page.

Download the laboratory waste disposal procedure poster(PDF) [PDF 820KB]


Safety signage can be found on the following websites:

If you not sure which signage you need please contact your health and safety team ( for advice.

For further advice on anything covered on this page contact the SBCS Health and Safety coordinator:

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