All laboratories should have at least one person who is well-versed in safe
practices and who understands and can advise the management on its legal
responsibilities in respect of the health and safety of its employees. Under the
UK Health and Safety Regulations 1988, employers have a legal obligation to
appoint as safety advisors "competent" persons who will advise and assist in
protective and preventive measures against accidents and ill health caused by
their work. The suggested duties of a safety advisor (officer) include:-
Advise management on the formulation of a safety policy (required by law
in the UK).
Assist scientific staff in drawing up standard operating procedures
(SOPs) that incorporate safe practices.
Carry out safety audits and inspections.
Investigate accidents and incidents and ensure they are reported and
documented as required by law.
Ensure that hazardous materials are correctly labelled and stored.
Ensure that protective clothing and equipment are in god order.
Oversee routine decontamination procedures and carry out effective
decontamination after an accident.
Maintain appropriate literature and disseminate information on safety
Liaise with emergency services.
One or more SOPs should be drawn up for dealing with:
Natural disasters (fire, flood etc.)
Serious contamination of premises
Accidental exposure of staff to infection
Emergency medical treatment
Inquiries into dangerous occurrences
In the drawing of an emergency SOP, the following should be taken into
The presence and location of Group 3 and 4 pathogens and hazardous
Location of high risk areas
Personnel who are at risk
Identification and whereabouts of emergency civil and medical services
Sources of prophylactics and therapeutics
Sources and provision of safety and life-saving equipment