Safety regulations for students
The purpose of the safety regulations is to minimise the risks resulting in ill health and accidents associated with laboratory and fieldwork.
General work regulations
At the course introduction, you will get information regarding:
- House-specific safety rules
- Emergency exits
- Evacuation routes
- Emergency showers
Before you start a lab or field study, risk assessment has to be done and signed by a supervisor. Written handling instructions must also be done, taking into account the risk assessment. Literature regarding safety issues and chemical laboratory work is available from the course assistants. The course assistants will give further instructions concerning the correct handling of any chemicals and waste.
Body and eye emergency showers are located in each lab or in the corridor outside. First aid kits for minor injuries can be found in or near the lab in special “stations”.
- Keep your working space free from chemicals and unused equipment.
- Spill must be attended to immediately – inform your course assistant if it concerns a chemical (and not harmless things like water). For absorbing chemical spill; use vermiculite and put it in a chemical waste cardboard box with a plastic bag inside.
- Cleaning personnel only take care of normal cleanings like floor and paper bins.
- Fume hood sinks and other sinks are to be kept free of rubbish.
- Corridors are evacuation routes and must be kept clear and must not be cluttered with equipment, cardboard boxes and the like, as well as rucksacks, bags and outdoor clothes.
- Ignition free fridges and freezers are used for the storage of flammable substances.
Routine lab practices
- Gloves must be worn when needed. Depending on the type of work different gloves should be used, stated in the written handling instructions (vinyl, latex, nitril, and such). Do not walk around with gloves on when you are not doing lab work as this can expose others in the lab to dangerous chemicals or isotopes.
- Lab coats must be worn in the lab, but only in the lab.
- Protection glasses should be used when needed or according to risk assessment.
- Do not throw dangerous waste – for example chemicals, sharp things, needles etc. – in the bins. Be aware that cleaning staff may come to harm. There are special containers for dangerous waste.
- Pipetting by mouth is not permitted. Use a Peleus ball instead.
- Solutions and samples should always be labelled with the name and content so they can be identified. And hazard symbols when applicable.
- When doing lab work, avoid having earphones with music in both ears. Have one ear free. Then you can hear if something dangerous is happening in the lab and if someone approaches you, to avoid being surprised and make sudden dangerous movements.
- Eating and drinking are not allowed in the lab. Neither is smoking, snuff, putting on make-up or using hand lotion.
Other protection equipment
- Emergency showers and eye showers are found in the lab and in the corridor outside the lab.
- If you get a harmful chemical in your eye: first wash for a long time using an eye shower (NOT an eyewash bottle), then contact medical care information. If you go to the hospital: bring an eyewash bottle during transportation to continue cleaning and bring a friend or supervisor to accompany you. Eyewash bottles can be found in green holders in labs or in corridors.
- First aid boxes are found in corridors and labs.
Start the exhaust before using it. Ask for instructions on how to start if you are unsure. When work is finished turn it off. Even at this position, a small outflow of air occurs. Do not cover more than a third of the perforated stainless steel sheet on downflow benches as this will reduce the optimal outflow of air. This type of bench is suitable for work with volatile substances but should not be used for warm preparation; the maximum temperature is 40–50ºC. If the downflow bench is not equipped with a protective Plexiglas hood you should not work more than 20 cm above the bench surface.
Before beginning your work, lift the protective shield up to working level (see the mark on the right side of the glass shield). Then the working flow starts automatically. Do not lift the shield all the way, as the outflow of the air will not function properly and there will be no protection. After you have finished your work, draw the shield down all the way.
Electrical equipment in the fume hood should be connected only to the socket on the front side of the hood. The socket has a circuit interrupter that breaks the circuit if the outflow system fails to work. Do not clutter the fume hood with bottles or equipment and do not use it for storage. Detailed instructions are found next to every fume hood.
For certain work involving the use of dangerous substances for which there is no space in the downflow bench or fume hood (for example microscopy or weighing), use a local extractor if one is available. For it to work, the suction must be very close (10–20 cm) to the substance. Switch off after use.
Rules for working with dangerous substances
Before using a chemical you will receive information on how to use it from your lecturer or course assistant. It must also be included in the risk assessment and written handling instructions. Solvents should be stored in ventilated cupboards in the lab or in a chemical storage room. A maximum 2–3 litres of flammable solvent is allowed on the lab benches in a lab. All solvent bottles on benches, in downflow benches and fume hoods, must stand in trays to avoid spills running down into the sewage in case of a leaking bottle.
Chemicals marked as toxic shall be stored in a separate cupboard (or fridge or freezer). Ask the supervisor about the rules concerning storage, they can vary between different labs. Be sure to clean up any spills and ask the supervisor for information on how to take care of waste!
When liquid nitrogen evaporates the percentage of nitrogen increases in the air. In poorly ventilated areas this can result in an oxygen shortage. Contact with liquid nitrogen can result in injuries resulting from extreme cold and skin reactions similar to burns. You must therefore always wear special thick gloves when handling liquid nitrogen. It is recommended to work two and two when working with liquid nitrogen.
Other activities that require caution
Biological work, biological substances, genetically modified organisms
The course assistant will explain the rules and regulations for working with these substances and organisms. It must be included in the risk assessment and written handling instructions.
Use proper UV protection glasses when working with UV-light (UV table, UV tubes, etc.). There must be a pair of UV-protection glasses at every UV workstation. Notify the course assistant if they are missing.
Gas in the lab
If you use gas in the lab you must make sure that the gas tube or gas valve is closed when you have finished your work.
Be aware of a correct working position to avoid back or other injuries resulting from static body postures.
Waste is disposed of in different ways in the different houses within the department. You will be informed of the rules and you must follow them. You should never pour chemicals in the sink.
Fieldwork and Excursions
The safety regulations vary between courses. In general, the teacher has done a pre-excursion and has checked the accessibility to the site. During the hunting season, excursions may be cancelled. The landowner must always be contacted if destructive sampling is to be carried out and/or if sampling equipment is left in the field. The responsible teacher is always carrying a mobile phone. You are not allowed to bring friends, children or pets. Before every excursion, we make a judgement of the weather. If there is any risk of harm, the excursion will be cancelled. If you drive your own car or act as a driver in a rented car the responsible teacher must check your driving license in advance. Always bring appropriate clothes that are warm enough or rain-proof. You may borrow wellingtons (rubber boots) according to supply in the Ecology building. If you do any fieldwork on your own you must check and follow the safety regulations in force and always get your plan approved by the supervisor.
Special for marine excursions
Flat rocks near the shoreline are often very slippery when wet. Do not forget to be exceptionally careful at such rocky shores. If you use waders on a shore excursion you must also wear a life jacket.
For excursions on ships, the skipper takes the full responsibility for the safety on board. You are obliged to always follow the skipper’s instructions.
In some courses, we use boats with motors. Students are not allowed to drive these boats if there is no teacher present. We may make an exception if you have a driver certificate and have shown that you control the boat perfectly well. Usually, you are allowed to use rowing boats without a teacher if you are together with another student. You must never ever wear waders aboard! And you must wear a life jacket on board motorboats and rowing boats at all times.
If you have problems with your studies or your health
Good to know
Fire alarm and fire protection equipment
- Maps with evacuation routes are situated on every floor and by the entrance.
- Fire extinguishers are found in the corridors and in the course labs.
- Water hoses are found in designated cupboards in the corridors and in the lab.
- There are fire blankets in the corridors.
- For small fires, try to put out the fire using the fire blanket, extinguisher or water hose.
- When a fire alarm sounds it is a legal requirement that everyone must evacuate the building. The person in charge of the course is responsible for checking that everybody is leaving immediately. Do not use elevators or smoke-filled stairways. Follow the green arrows to find the nearest exit. Gather at the designated gathering points. Biology building: the site of re-gathering is the lawn facing Sölvegatan outside building A. Ecology building: the site of re-gathering is the open space outside the entrance of the basement at Naturvetarvägen 6A.
If an accident happens and you have to go to the emergency room at the hospital you should be accompanied by a fellow student. It is a legal requirement that all accidents, as well as incidents which could have led to an accident, must be reported. Contact the course assistant or lecturer immediately! A report must be made by the course leader and the Director of Biology Education, and when you have approved the report you and a safety officer sign it. It is important to make a report in order to avoid similar accidents in the future, but also to have documentation in case you get future health problems.
You find more extensive info about the pictograms on the European Chemicals Agency ECHA website. You find also more useful information about chemicals at the Swedish Chemicals Agency and the Swedish Work Environment Authority.