Health and Safety

Genome Damage and Stability Centre Safety Regulations.

IN ALL EMERGENCIES DIAL 3333 (from any internal phone) or 01273 873333. 24 HOUR RESPONSE.

1.0 Training Information

(a) All new staff and visiting workers will receive:

  • A copy of these regulations
  • An introductory briefing by the:
    1. Health and Safety Coordinator
    2. Radiation Protection Supervisor (if applicable).
    3. Biological Safety Officer (if applicable).
    4. An access SALTO card.

(b) All new staff must consult:

  • The Health and Safety Coordinator before commencing work involving mutagens or highly toxic chemicals.
  • The Radiation Protection Supervisor before commencing work involving Radioisotopes.
  • The Biological Safety Officer before commencing any new work involving biological agents and/or genetic modification.

(c) All new staff must:

  • Complete and sign a Project Risk assessment form provided by their supervisor.
  • Read and sign the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) risk assessments for the projects in which they will be engaged (held in the red box in laboratories).
  • Not undertake any new hazardous procedure unless first approved by the director.
  • Receive training in the safe use of potentially hazardous equipment (see list below) from a competent ‘nominated person’ and must abide by the instruction received.
    • X-Ray room facilities.
    • All centrifuges especially High Speed.
    • Sonicators.
    • FPLC.
    • Phospho Imager.
    • UV microscopes.
    • Liquid Nitrogen facilities.
    • Tissue Culture facilities.
1.1 Fire Regulations

(a) The fire alarm is tested every Tuesday between 11:00 – 11:30am.

(b) IF YOU HEAR THE FIRE ALARM BELL (except tests which are brief and at the time specified) leave your room or area closing all doors and windows behind you, leaving the building by the shortest possible route. Go to the Assembly Point, which is signposted OUTSIDE THE FRONT RECEPTION. Wait there until the fire brigade or security has given the ‘all clear’ to return to the building.


  1. Operate the fire alarm from the red buttons.
  2. Check for persons at risk (if no personal risk is involved).
  3. Attempt to extinguish fire only if trained to use extinguishers.
  4. Go to the Assembly point, which is OUTSIDE THE FRONT RECEPTION.
  5. If a fire extinguisher is used it must be reported to the Safety Coordinator.


  1. Ensure that their area of responsibility is cleared and that all those present are accounted for.
  2. Ascertain whether any additional hazard exists in their area.
  3. Report all findings to the Safety Coordinator (or senior floor warden).

(e) THE HEALTH AND SAFETY COORDINATOR (or, if absent, THE STAND IN FLOOR WARDEN) is responsible for liaising with the University Rescue Team or Fire Brigade on their arrival at the scene of the fire. This will be from the rear of the building near the Science Car Park.



1.2 Security

(a) Unauthorised persons, including children under sixteen years, are not permitted in laboratories and glassware cleaning areas. Centre staff that wish to allow their children access to authorised areas of the Centre are deemed to have accepted full responsibility for them.

(b) The main entrance revolving door is locked from 17.00 hours to 07.30 hours on weekdays and at all time during the weekends.

(c) When leaving, check windows in your laboratory/office, turn off equipment, turn off lights, and close doors to corridor.

(d) The last person to leave a laboratory must make a final check of equipment, lights and doors and windows in the Centre.

(e) The last person to leave the corridor should turn off the lights.

(f) Always switch off equipment when not in use. Incubators, Freezers, Refrigerators, Ultracentrifuges and Fume Cupboards are always designated for overnight running. All other equipment must be clearly marked if intended for regular overnight use. For occasional overnight use, a special notice should be placed on the equipment.

(g) If in doubt when leaving, you may turn off any piece of equipment not clearly marked for overnight operation.

(h) The University may be considered a potential target for animal rights Activists. Always be on the look-out for suspect packages or letters.

1.3 Work in the Centre outside normal working hours

(a) Access to the building is available only to authorised personnel.

(b) Members of the Centre entering at night or at weekends must sign the out-ofhours book on entering the building. These books are located at the main and rear (car park) entrances. Similarly, those remaining after the end of the normal working day should also make an entry after 18.00 hours.

2.0 General Lab Regulations

(a) Details of all personal injuries and potentially dangerous occurrences must be reported to the Safety Coordinator and recorded on an accident form which is kept in room G4.07.

(b) Lab coat, gloves and eye protection must be worn during procedures that may be hazardous. Lab coats should be worn for all experimental work, and is mandatory for all genetic modification work above containment level 1 and in the tissue culture facilities. No claims for damage to person or clothing will be considered if lab coats and other appropriate protection were not worn. Eye protection must be worn for all work using UV lamps and the Trans illuminator.

(c) Lab coats should not normally be worn outside the area of work and should be left on the hooks provided in each laboratory when not being worn. To avoid the risk of contamination, it is only permitted to wear one glove if walking from lab to lab. The glove free hand must be used to open doors. Lab coats must not be worn in the seminar room.

(d) Eating and drinking are not permitted in the laboratories at any time.

(e) Smoking is only permitted outside (further than 2m away from any building).

(f) Routes to emergency exits and the exits themselves must be kept clear at all times. Bulky items such as deliveries, rubbish and other items must not be left in corridors. Cardboard boxes should be knocked flat and left outside laboratories in the dry recycling bins in the corridors.

(g) The use of gas cylinders must be approved by the Safety Coordinator.

(h) Any piece of potentially hazardous equipment sent for repair or disposal must be accompanied by a certificate of decontamination (available from the Safety Coordinator).

(i) Bottles of hot molten agar must always be conveyed in the carriers provided.

(j) Children under the age of 16 are not permitted in any laboratory within the Centre. Children of staff members or attached staff may on occasion occupy offices or the seminar room provided that they are accompanied by the staff member who accepts full responsibility for their safety.

(k) Avoid storing heavy or bulky objects above head height. Always use the stepladders provided to retrieve anything above head height, never try to balance on a swing-chair or a stool.

(l) Never remove or circumnavigate any safety provisions that have been put in place, for example, do not over-ride a lid inter-lock on a centrifuge whilst the rotor is in motion.


(a) Risk assessments have been written for all major hazards associated with work in the Centre. Each worker must have a signed copy of all the assessments relevant to his/her work as agreed with their immediate supervisor. A complete set of assessments, together with copies of Local Rules and appropriate guidelines to which reference is made, is kept in the Red Safety Box in each main work area.

(b) It is a legal requirement to have established procedures to deal with spillages of hazardous chemicals. “Spill kits” are kept in each main laboratory area. In the event of a major spillage, e.g. large volume of highly toxic or flammable material, evacuate and seal off the area and summon security (calling 3333 from any internal phone). Security will then summon the appropriate emergency action.

2.2 Radiation

(a) All work with radiation is to be performed according to the University of Sussex code of Practice SSC-48-1.

(b) All new staff must consult the Radiation Protection Supervisor (RPS) before commencing work with radioisotopes.

(c) All new staff are required to complete a course with the Radiation Protection Officer (RPO) and are then given access to Isostock.

(d) The appropriate monitors must be worn when working with isotopes.

(e) All orders for isotopes must be notified to the RPS and entered on Isostock.

(f) The approval of the RPO must be obtained before embarking on any new project involving isotopes (if in doubt, consult the Laboratory Head or RPS directly).

(g) All radioactive waste must be clearly labelled and entered on Isostock.

(h) Laboratory coats and disposable gloves must be worn when using isotopes.

2.3 Biological Hazards

(a) Introduction of new species of animals or potentially hazardous organisms must be first authorised by the Director in liaison with the Centre’s Biological Safety Officer (BSO) and the appropriate University Committee. All work with Biological Agents must conform to the University of Sussex Local Rules SSC-78-2.

(b) New staff must consult their Laboratory Heads, who will consult the BSO before commencing any work involving genetic modification (other than those already approved) or any work involving potential pathogens.

(c) All staff must consult the BSO before commencing any new procedures involving genetic modification or potential pathogens and all work is carried out at Containment Level 2. Genetic modification work must conform to the University of Sussex Local Rules SSC-82-1.

(d) Work with non-pathogenic bacteria must follow the good microbiological practice described in the University of Sussex Local Rules and Guidance SSC-74-2A.

(e) Work on human tissue (including blood) must conform to the University of Sussex Local Rules SSC-78-3 and the Human Tissue Act (HTA).

(f) See Section 2.5 and the relevant Codes of Practice for arrangements for disposal of waste.

2.4 Chemicals

(a) It is a legal requirement that hazard/risk assessments be made with respect to chemicals employed in all projects (see Section 2.1 above).

(b) Flammable solvents not miscible with water must not be poured down sinks. Redundant/contaminated waste must be bottled, labelled clearly with contents, group, date and name before returning to Biology Stores for disposal. Contact the Safety Coordinator to arrange removal of waste.

(c) Water-miscible solvents may be disposed of down sinks with large excess of running water.

(d) Potentially dangerous solvents and chemicals must always be stored in the appropriate safety cabinets and conveyed in the bottle carriers provided when needed for use. No volume greater than 500ml of any flammable solvent in any one vessel is to be kept in the laboratory (except in the solvent cupboards under the Fume Hoods).

(e) Hazardous chemicals, including carcinogens and mutagens, must be clearly labelled. Contaminated glassware should also be marked.

(f) In experiments involving carcinogens or mutagens the University of Sussex Code Of Practice (document SSC/60/1) should be followed.

(g) All noxious or hazardous operations must be carried out in fume cupboards.

(h) Glassware contaminated with hazardous material must not be placed on trays for collection and washing. Noxious solutions must be disposed of by the worker and the glassware left soaking in Decon.

(i) Glassware should be treated as potentially hazardous and gloves should be worn when handling it.

(j) Care must be taken when handling hot agar and culture flasks.

(k) Specialist gloves for heat, chemical or cut protection are available from the Safety Coordinator.

2.4.1 Non-Volatile Toxic and Mutagenic Chemicals General

(a) All work with mutagens or highly toxic chemicals must be authorised and follow an approved written protocol (see Section 5).

(b) Procedures may be relaxed for minimally hazardous compounds, but only with the agreement of the Safety Coordinator.

(c) Since all waste must go somewhere, try to create as little as possible.

(d) Weigh out solids by difference in the fume cupboards.

(e) Handle subsequently as if radioactive material (i.e. work if possible within the Fume Cupboard, but in any case, within a defined area). Use Benchkote, wear gloves and lab coat etc.

(f) Disposable items should be used wherever practical. They should be rinsed in Decon solution, bagged and disposed of directly into the outside waste bins.

(g) Contaminated reusable containers should be rinsed in Decon in marked buckets and washed thoroughly. (h) Note that non-volatile solid toxic and mutagenic chemicals should be handled as if volatile, because of the danger of inhaling dust.

2.42 Additional Precautions For Volatile Toxic and Mutagenic Chemicals

(a) All operations must be performed in a fume cupboard.

(b) Experimental material (plates etc.) containing volatile mutagens, only to be removed from fume cupboard in sealed container.

(c) Waste liquid should be washed with excess water down sink in fume cupboard (or left in dilute solution in waste container in fume cupboard). Please do not allow waste containers to accumulate in the fume cupboard.

2.5 Disposal of waste

(a) Broken glassware and used plasticware must be placed in their designated bins in the lab.

(b) Hypodermic needles and syringes and scalpel blades are classified as clinical waste and must be disposed of into yellow sharps bins for incineration.

(c) Used Pasteur pipettes should be placed in a separate container to glass pipettes and disposed of into the broken glassware bin after decontaminating with Virkon if necessary.

(d) All disposable material from experiments involving genetic modification and all material from blood separation must be placed in Hazard bags for autoclaving. All other material from such experiments must be disinfected with a Virkon solution before disposal.

(e) It is the responsibility of each laboratory to take full Hazard bags to the Autoclave room.

(f) For disposal of chemical waste, see section 2.40 and the appropriate Local Rules (SSC-69-5).

(g) Gloves should be worn when disposing of any waste material, including general waste. Gloves must be disposed of in the used plasticware bins.

2.6 Category 1 & 2 - Low and Medium Hazard

2.60 Category 1 - Low Hazard

This includes normal experimental work with which the individual is familiar. To carry out this work outside of normal working hours, individuals must have signed approval from their immediate supervisor. Persons working alone may notify Security when they arrive, giving the proposed time of departure with a request that Security make a check if they have not subsequently informed Security of their imminent departure from the building. An alternative is to notify someone who will raise the alarm if the member of staff does not return at a set time.

The following are currently classified as Category 1:

  • Removal of ampoules from liquid nitrogen
  • Use of mutagens and highly toxic chemicals
  • Bacteriology
  • Use of High Speed Centrifuges
  • Lymphocyte separation 
  • Electrophoresis
  • Use of X Ray Room
  • Standard biomedical procedures
  • General genetic modification
  • Work with oncogenes
  • Use of UV sources
  • Work in dark room
  • Cell culture
  • 32P work
  • Work with other radioisotopes
  • Sequencing Gels

2.61 Category 2 - Medium hazard

Operations designated as Category 2, also require signed approval and must not be carried out without the presence of another person within earshot (i.e. no radios or personal stereos).

The following are currently classified as Category 2: 

  • Liquid Nitrogen dispensing 
  • Work involving substantial quantities of solvents •
  • Large scale DNA preps (involving the use of phenol/chloroform)
2.7 Use of Liquid Nitrogen Facilities in G2.11

All users of this facility must have a safety induction from the H&S Coordinator, Michael Schofield. This will include:

(a) Access to the facility.

(b) The low oxygen alarm system and evacuation.

(c) The risks of oxygen depletion (below 18% is unsafe), thermal burn and explosion.

(d) The correct use of PPE. Protective gloves or gauntlets and eye protection, preferably a full-face shield must be worn at all times when handling liquid nitrogen and accessing the storage banks. It is also important to make sure you are wearing suitable footwear, i.e. no open-toed sandals. A raised platform of steel mesh is provided for users to stand on which will prevent spilled liquid nitrogen from accumulating around the feet.

(e) Use of Storage Facility. Excess liquid must be allowed to drain from sections before they are lifted out of the dewar. Take care when lifting the sections as they are heavy. An overhead crane is available for assistance with this.

(f) Liquid Nitrogen Dispensing from small tank into small dewars for snap freezing.

(g) FIRST AID ADVICE FOR CRYOGENIC BURNS (Cold burns caused by liquefied gases e.g. liquid N2). Burns caused by contact with liquefied gases may not be immediately apparent but can develop some time later. The skin will appear white and waxy. The affected area should be thawed slowly in lukewarm water, never hot, then covered with a sterile dressing. If any clothing etc. is frozen onto the skin, do not attempt to remove it until the area has been completely thawed. If the burn is extensive or deep (indicated by a loss of sensation in the area) then seek medical advice.

(h) The use of a buddy system during out of hours access.

2.8 Safety Contacts
  • Genome Health and Safety/Technical Services Manager: Michael Schofield. Ext. 8065
  • Radiation Protection Supervisor: Michael Schofield / Jon Wing. Ext. 8065/3118
  • Radiation Protection Officer: Alistair Hardwick. Ext. 2830
  • Biological Safety Officers: Matthew Pope / Francisco Van Ronzelen.Ext. 8872
  • First Aider: University First Aiders. Ext. 3333
  • Life Sciences Safety Managers: Matthew Pope / Francisco Van Ronzelen.Ext. 8872
  • University Safety Office. Ext. 7116
  • Security Office. Ext. 8234