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Working with scientific set-ups

Our researchers regularly build new scientific set-ups to test certain hypotheses. Sometimes standard safe equipment can be acquired for this. However staff or our own instrumentation department often construct instruments themselves or convert standard equipment. In these cases the employee becomes the manufacturer and the employer is responsible for the safety aspects of the equipment concerned. In addition, set-ups regularly change due to their experimental character and then satisfying all of the statutory safety requirements can become a complex issue.

Itemise risks on time
The Working Conditions Act requires a risk assessment of set-ups prior to their use.
This means that before the construction of new set-ups or the commissioning of purchased or acquired set-ups the risks must be systematically evaluated. Where necessary, additional measures must be taken and it must also be established whether the remaining risks are acceptable. This not only concerns the set-up but also the processes and products (chemicals, biological agents, heat etc.) used and produced.

Paying attention to safety at an early stage (planning phase) allows the risks to be tackled at the source as much as possible and then safety measures can be implemented before the work activities even start. In some cases a licence is required from the internal organisation or a government body before a certain experiment can be carried out. A systematic assessment of the research at an early stage in discussion with the health and safety officer can provide an overview of the licences required and the researcher can then be assisted in applying for these.

NWO-I guidance
The NWO-I Health and Safety Advisory Committee has compiled a guidance entitled 'Proactieve aanpak veiligheid en milieu bij nieuwe wetenschappelijke projecten'. Proactive approach to safety and environment in new scientific projects in which the researcher is given tools to itemise possible risks and the licences required at an early stage.

The Institutes have the policy to consult the guidance at the start of new scientific projects. For NWO-I personnel working on a research programme within a university group is recommended to use the guidance if local policy and regulations are absent.

You can download the entire guidance below.

Confidental Infomation