Workplace health and safety

Please take the time to review the important workplace health and safety (WHS) information on this page. It is important to ensure the safety of yourself and those around you.

All Risk Assessments and Safe Work Procedures will be reviewed and updated regularly.

Purchase of hazardous materials (including chemicals, biologicals and radioisotopes)

The Pre-procurement checklist (PPC) for hazardous materials ensures that legislative and regulatory requirements are met when ordering chemicals, biologicals and radioisotopes, including access to adequate storage and handling facilities and regulatory authorisation for some high risk substances.

The pre-procurement checklist is required to be filled in the first time a hazardous chemical, radioisotope and biological is ordered from a commercial source such as your building's store, or external chemical suppliers. The form must then by signed off by the individual’s supervisor or delegated authority and then a copy of the signed checklist should be emailed to your local safety officer.

To help you fill in the form a set of guidelines have also been created, along with additional information from WHS Services about the procurement of chemicals. To help manage this process with internal requisition orders, we have also developed an Internal requisition form (Please do not use older versions of this form).

Some supervisors have lab managers or specific staff which are largely involved in the ordering process for their lab group. It is possible for the supervisor to delegate the authority for signing off on the pre-procurement paperwork by filling in the request form. All delegations of authority must be approved by Head of School and forwarded to the local safety officer.

Spill and hazardous waste procedures

Spill procedures

Spill procedures are covered by the Safety Health & Wellbeing website. For specific spill procedures please also consult the SWPs.

If you are working in G08 and have questions concerning spills, please contact your local spill officer, .

If you have any questions concerning hazardous waste disposal, please contact your respective Waste Disposal Officer.

Hazardous Waste

Hazardous waste must never be disposed into the sewer or the general waste stream. If in doubt about any issues related to waste disposal, consult the Safety Health & Wellbeing website, School Safety Officer or School Hazardous Waste Officer. Details of waste disposal should also be included in the risk assessments and safe work procedures. Requirements for specific waste disposal are as described below. Please also consult the SWPs.

Biological Waste

All biohazard waste must be inactivated prior to disposal.

Liquid waste: Liquid waste is to be collected in the appropriate liquid waste containers. Discard liquid waste as required (e.g. autoclave or inactivate in 1% bleach). Do NOT autoclave bleach-containing waste.

Solid waste: All contaminated solid waste (including packaging material and boxes) must be collected in double-bagged autoclave bags inside metal bins. Full bags or bags containing infectious material must be taped/tied closed. Full bins must be closed, stuck with fresh autoclave tape and labelled on the outside with a biohazard sign and the words: “PC2 BIOLOGICAL HAZARD WASTE”. The waste must be transported as soon as possible (i.e. at the end of the day) to a secure area: G08 - the cage in the autoclave area on Level 2, do not leave unattended in autoclave room. A12 - Secure in PC2 laboratory until ready to autoclave immediately. Do not overfill waste bags and do not discard liquid waste in waste bags (see above).

Sharps containers containing PC2 or hazardous biological waste must also be autoclaved before disposal. (non-hazardous biological sharps can go in the yellow biohazard bins without autoclaving).

Chemical Waste

Check the Safety Data Sheet of all chemicals you are working with to ensure you understand the risks.

Some non-hazardous chemicals may be disposed of down the sink with dilution (e.g. sodium chloride, potassium phosphate), but this is not appropriate for hazardous chemicals.

All hazardous chemical waste needs to be labelled with the chemical name, the volume, the concentration (or the mass for solid waste), the person's name, lab group, and date. The waste must be sealed in a tightly closed strong container (preferably plastic) or in a wet garbage, or strong plastic bag for solid waste like EtBr-contaminated gloves. Glass containers should be avoided, unless the waste would dissolve plastic. Once all these conditions have been met, the chemical waste can be left in G08 Room 225 for disposal or A08 Hazardous Waste store P301.

Chemical wastes should not be mixed together unless this is unavoidable (e.g. phenol/chloroform mixture).

If you have many different chemical waste items to dispose of at the same time, you should fill in a dedicated chemical waste disposal form (from waste disposal officers). If chemicals are not safe to move from their current location the waste disposal officers can arrange a special collection from that site.

Radioactive Waste

Methods of disposing of radioactive waste must be organised before conducting any experiments.

Long-lived isotope experiments that generate waste greater than 100 Bq/g must be discussed before hand with the Radiation Safety Officer. If requiring advice on disposal, contact the Radiation Safety Officer.

If generation of long-lived waste at >100 Bq/g has already occurred or is for some reason unavoidable, the Radiation Officer must be informed, and special arrangements made. Radioactive waste that is not able to be disposed of immediately but will decay to an acceptable level within a year, needs to be stored correctly, i.e. in a suitable container (behind 10 mm perspex shielding or transferred into the Long Term Storage Bunker) labelled with your name, lab group, the isotope, the activity at the date of generation, and the date when activity will be acceptable for disposal (<100 Bq/g). Please see the Radiation Safety Officer for further information.

Fieldwork

The Fieldwork Safety Standards outline the University’s minimum performance requirements for fieldwork safety and provide practical guidance to assist faculties, schools and individual research groups to meet the required performance standards.

Before any volunteers start work in your area you will need to ensure that they are registered with the School and that they have read and abide by the School’s Volunteer Procedure.

The fieldwork approval flowchart will assist you to ensure you have completed the necessary checks before commencing fieldwork.