Print this page

What do I need to look out for with hazardous substances?

Before you work with hazardous substances, make sure you know the risks involved so that you can take appropriate risk management measures. Ask an expert, supervisor or health & safety coordinator for advice and information.

  • Do not work alone. Make sure you have a colleague (at a safe distance) who knows how to assist in the event of an accident.
  • Be aware of the risks involved with the substances. Consult the relevant Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) in advance. If you are not familiar with the substance or mixture then assume it is dangerous and be extra careful! In the case of volatile and risky substances always work in a fume cupboard.
  • You should preferably work standing in front of a fume cupboard with the window as low as possible; make sure that your face is always behind the sliding window.
  • Always wear a lab coat and if necessary appropriate disposable gloves (type of glove is depending on the substance).
  • Avoid contact with latex gloves if you have developed a sensitivity to latex. 
  • Wear safety goggles if using strong acids or carrying out dangerous reactions.
  • Work in a clean and orderly manner.

Guidelines for storage, waste, spillages and emergencies

  • All packages that contain chemicals must be labelled. Use the standard hazard symbols. Solutions should also be provided with a name, date, hazard sentence and list of contents.
  • Keep the chemicals in accordance with local regulations. These are compiled in accordance with statutory regulations (PGS-15).
  • Know where you can find the eye wash, emergency shower, fire blanket, suitable fire extinguisher etc. in the event of an emergency.
  • In the event of spillages, special neutralising and absorbing packages are available. Ask the local health & safety coordinator where these materials are and how to use them.
  • Ask about the local regulations for the chemical waste. Always state the name of the substance when storing and disposing of chemical waste.

Specific guidelines for flammable substances

  • Work in the fume cupboard or otherwise with sufficient ventilation so that the concentration of the vapours is not harmful for the health and so that no danger of fire or explosion can develop.
  • Look out for spilled flammable liquids. Do not continue to walk around with contaminated clothing on.
  • In experimental rooms no more than one day's supply of flammable fluids may be present.
  • After working hours all flammable substances should be stored in a safety cabinet (fire resistant and ventilated).
  • Squeeze-bottles containing flammable substances (for example, acetone) can easily cause fire due to static electricity or a siphon effect upon heating. Limit the use of such bottles (and their contents) as much as possible.
Confidental Infomation