LAB SAFETY

PG Programs


The following are just a few common sense guidelines to help minimize the risks to yourself and others working near you when carrying out outdoor experiments. N.B. This list is not exhaustive.

Responsibilities

  • As with indoor experiments, researchers are required to design, construct and operate their experiments with close attention to the protection of health, safety and the environment within and around their apparatus.

Work Plan

  • All outdoor experiments must be covered by a work plan.
  • When developing emergency shutdown procedures for their work plan, researchers should bear in mind the constraints imposed by the outdoor environment - particularly with regard to the availability of safety showers, fire extinguishers, etc..
  • Appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be used, as specified in the work plan. 

Housekeeping

  • Experimental apparatus should not block any emergency access routes or access to fire-fighting equipment (extinguisher, hose reel, etc.).
  • Every component of an experimental setup should be securely mounted.
  • Equipment, benches and chairs which are not necessary for running the experiment should not be kept outdoors.
  • Tools should be returned indoors after use. 

Electrical Safety

  • Any electrical equipment used outdoors should have an appropriate level of protection to prevent the risk of electric shocks or electrocution. It is preferable to use equipment (including instruments) specifically designed for use outdoors.
  • Due to the possibility of rainwater ingress, all mains powered electrical equipment used outdoors must be fitted with ELCB (earth leakage circuit breaker) protection, as a minimum.
  • Electrical cables must be protected from accidental damage and secured to prevent a tripping hazard.
  • It is preferable that electrical equipment should not be operated outdoors during wet weather.
  • For connection of temporary power supplies and electrical installations, users must seek technical advice from EMO well in advance. 

Use of Chemicals

  • Outdoor use of chemicals should preferably be minimized. Due to the likely lack of immediate access to safety showers, eye baths, etc. researchers should seek advice from the departmental safety committee and /or HSEO on chemical use outdoors with regard to exposure, spill response and waste disposal measures.
  • Compressed gas cylinders should only be used outdoors with the express approval of the departmental safety committee and /or HSEO.
  • Chemicals should not be stored outdoors.

Waste Disposal and Spillage

  • Where feasible, bunding should be employed to reduce the likelihood of contamination resulting from spillage.
  • Direct discharge or dispersion of effluents from experimental apparatus should be avoided.
  • Wastes should be disposed of according to existing procedures.

Manual Lifting and Carrying

  • Improper methods of lifting and carrying objects can result in back injuries. Correct lifting and carrying procedures are outlined in several documents on HSEO’s website [2.]. 

Adverse Weather Conditions

  • Researchers should develop and implement a plan for bad weather and the possibility of weather changes. Planned experiments should be postponed in the event of bad weather.
  • If strong winds are forecast and sufficient warning is provided, researchers should seriously consider bringing their apparatus indoors (or at least moving it to a secure, sheltered location) if there is a potential for it to cause secondary damage in strong wind.
  • In the event of a rainstorm warning or a typhoon signal No. 3 (or higher) being hoisted, all outdoor experiments must stop and not re-start until the signal is lowered and the conditions are safe to do so. Please also refer to the relevant section of the Safety and Environmental Protection Manual for related general safety information.  

Emergency Response and Contact Person

  • A sign clearly indicating the contact details for researcher(s) and their supervisor(s) should be fixed at a prominent place on their experimental setup.
  • Relevant warning signs should also be clearly displayed.