• a) Research the safe working practices in a Forensics laboratory,
making bullet point notes on them. (P5)
• b) Explain why updated regulations and legislations are required
to ensure safe working practices. Using real examples (from
internet, journals, news), explain what can go wrong if these
regulations are not followed. All sources and quotes must be
• c) There have been many stories in the news about health and
safety not being taken seriously in scientific workplaces. You have
been asked to show that this is not true for your company. Write a
short report about your Forensics laboratory, including:
• - Why are risk assessments carried out?
• - How is your company making sure it is meeting its regulations?
Health and safety report.
• The report shows that 72 HSE staff members
were injured in the course of their work,
including 13 by trips or slips and five in road
accidents. A further 29 suffered illnesses, such as
back and neck injury, from using computer
monitors, while 22 were off with work-related
stress. Nine people suffered accidents that left
them unable to work for more than three days
and the average annual amount of sick leave rose
to 6.8 days, with 24,000 hours lost to ill health.
Act dates back to 1974
• The basis of British health and safety law is the
Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
• The Management of Health and Safety at W ork
Regulations 1999 (the Management Regulations)
generally make more explicit what employers are
required to do to manage health and safety
under the Health and Safety at W ork Act. Like
the Act, they apply to every work activity .
• The main requirement on employers is to carry
out a risk assessment. Employers with five or
more employees need to record the significant
findings of the risk assessment.
• Risk assessment should be straightforward in a
simple workplace such as a typical office. It
should only be complicated if it deals with serious
hazar ds such as those on a nuclear power
station, a chemical plant, laboratory or an oil rig.
Health and safety
• The HSE leaflet Five steps to risk assessment will give you more
information. Besides carrying out a risk assessment, employers also
• make arrangements
• implementing the health and safety measures as risk assessment;
• appoint competent people (often themselves or company
colleagues) implement arrangements;
• set up emergency procedures;
• provide clear information and training to employees;
• work together with other employers sharing the same workplace.
The health and safety law poster
• The Health and safety law poster must be
displayed on all business premises. There are
various versions of the poster, so that you can
select the most appropriate for your business,
depending on where in the UK your business is
• Employers are required, by law, to either display
the HSE-approved law poster or to provide each
of their workers with the equivalent leaflet
(available as a free download
Health and safety
What employers must do for you
1 Decide what could harm you in your job and the precautions to stop it. This is part of risk assessment.
2 In a way you can understand, explain how risks will be controlled and tell you who is responsible for
3 Consult and work with you and your health and safety representatives in protecting everyone from
harm in the workplace.
4 Free of charge, give you the health and safety training you need to do your job.
5 Free of charge, provide you with any equipment and protective clothing you need, and ensure it is
properly looked after.
6 Provide toilets, washing facilities and drinking water.
7 Provide adequate first-aid facilities.
8 Report major injuries and fatalities at work to our Incident Contact Centre: 0845 300 9923. Report
other injuries, diseases and dangerous incidents online at www.hse.gov.uk.
9 Have insurance that covers you in case you get hurt at work or ill through work. Display a hard copy or
electronic copy of the current insurance certificate where you can easily read it.
10 Work with any other employers or contractors sharing the workplace or providing employees (such
as agency workers), so that everyone’s health and safety is protected.
• What you must do
• 1 Follow the training you have received when using any
work items your employer has given you.
• 2 Take reasonable care of your own and other people’s
health and safety.
• 3 Co-operate with your employer on health and safety.
• 4 Tell someone (your employer, supervisor, or health
and safety representative) if you think the work or
inadequate precautions are putting anyone’s health
and safety at serious risk.
In December 1999, Emory University in Atlanta
paid out $66,400 in fines and changed its
procedures following the death two years earlier
of primate researcher Elizabeth Griffin who
contracted herpes B after being hit in the eye
with fecal material, urine, or saliva while putting
a rhesus monkey in a cage at the Yerkes Regional
Whose fault is it?
• In 1995, a seemingly small-scale spill of hydrofluoric
acid killed a technician in Australia. He died from multi-
organ failure two weeks after the incident.
• He was alone,
• wearing only rubber gloves and sleeve protectors
• He was sitting down with nothing covering his lap.
• He was working in a crowded fume hood.
• The lab had no emergency shower
• nor any calcium gluconate gel antidote available.
• The slow death that befell Dartmouth chemist
Karen Wetterhahn when she was exposed to a
few drops of the highly toxic dimethylmercury in
August 1996 took several months to kill her.
Although Wetterhahn was wearing latex gloves
this compound rapidly penetrated them and was
absorbed through her skin.
• Ironically, she was at the time using
dimethylmercury to examine the effects of toxic
metals, such as chromium, on human cells.
Whose fault was this?
• After Wetterhahn's mercury poisoning was discovered, her
colleagues tested various safety gloves against
dimethylmercury and found that the small, apolar molecule
diffuses through most of them in seconds, much more quickly
• As a result, it is now recommended to wear highly resistant,
flexible, plastic-laminate gloves when handling
dimethylmercury and other similarly dangerous substances.
For increased protection, such thin gloves can be worn under
long-cuffed, heavy-duty outer gloves made of, for example,
Safety information of dimethylmercury
• Dimethylmercury is extremely toxic and dangerous to handle. Absorption of doses
as low as 0.1 mL has proven fatal. The risks are enhanced because of the high
vapor pressure of the liquid.
• Dimethylmercury passes through latex, PVC, butyl, and neoprene rapidly (within
seconds) and is absorbed through the skin. Therefore, most laboratory gloves do
not provide adequate protection from it, and the only safe precaution is to handle
dimethylmercury while wearing highly resistant laminated gloves underneath long-
cuffed neoprene or other heavy-duty gloves. A long face shield and work under a
fume hood are also indicated.
• Dimethylmercury crosses the blood–brain barrier easily, probably owing to
formation of a complex with cysteine. It is eliminated from the
organism slowly, and therefore has a tendency to bioaccumulate. The symptoms of
poisoning may be delayed by months, possibly too late for effective
• The toxicity of dimethylmercury was highlighted with the death of the inorganic
chemist Karen Wetterhahn of Dartmouth College in 1997, months after spilling no
more than a few drops of this compound on her latex-gloved hand
• Types of reportable injury Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations
• The death of any person
• All deaths to workers and non-workers, with the exception of suicides, must be reported if they
arise from a work-related accident, including an act of physical violence to a worker.
• Specified injuries to workers
• The list of ‘specified injuries’ in RIDDOR 2013 replaces the previous list of ‘major injuries’ in RIDDOR
1995. Specified injuries are (regulation 4):
• fractures, other than to fingers, thumbs and toes
• any injury likely to lead to permanent loss of sight or reduction in sight
• any crush injury to the head or torso causing damage to the brain or internal organs
• serious burns (including scalding) which:
– covers more than 10% of the body
– causes significant damage to the eyes, respiratory system or other vital organs
• any scalping requiring hospital treatment
• any loss of consciousness caused by head injury or asphyxia
• any other injury arising from working in an enclosed space which:
– leads to hypothermia or heat-induced illness
– requires resuscitation or admittance to hospital for more than 24 hours
Accident reporting Incidence
• Over-seven-day incapacitation of a worker
• Accidents must be reported where they result in an employee or self-employed
person being away from work, or unable to perform their normal work duties, for
more than seven consecutive days as the result of their injury. This seven day
period does not include the day of the accident, but does include weekends and
rest days. The report must be made within 15 days of the accident.
• Over-three-day incapacitation
• Accidents must be recorded, but not reported where they result in a worker
being incapacitated for more than three consecutive days. If you are an employer,
who must keep an accident book under the Social Security (Claims and Payments)
Regulations 1979, that record will be enough.
• Non fatal accidents to non-workers (eg members of the public)
• Accidents to members of the public or others who are not at work must be
reported if they result in an injury and the person is taken directly from the scene
of the accident to hospital for treatment to that injury. Examinations and
diagnostic tests do not constitute ‘treatment’ in such circumstances.
Case study one
• Ralph, had an accident at work, he was picking up hypodermic
needles at the scene of crime where a heroine addict was found
• He needle sticked himself with a dirty hypodermic needle.
• Ralph had a panic attack and tripped up, at the scene of Crime and
knocked himself unconcious.
• He took three days off consecutively and then took a HIV test, 1
week, 6 weeks and 3 months after the event, each day required a
half day off work.
During this time Ralph also required counselling to destress from
the anxiety that he may have contracted HIV.
• Which one of the RIDDOR regulations does Ralph come under?
• Yes, Ralph was knocked unconscious and so
this needs to be reported under RIDDOR
• Ralph was also exposed to biological agents in
his occupation which could lead to disease so
these both need to be reported under RIDDOR
• Princess was working in the lab and she cut
herself with a glass beaker which broke in her
hand and needed stitches.
• Princess needed two days off work and when
she returned could not do her normal duties
as one of her hands was in a sling for 6 weeks.
• Does this accident need to be reported under
• Yes, Princess was incapacitated for 6 weeks
• Exposure to carcinogens, mutagens and biological agents
• This section noteType=Explanatory Memorandum has no
• 9. Where, in relation to a person at work, the responsible
person receives a diagnosis of—
• (a)any cancer attributed to an occupational exposure to a
known human carcinogen or mutagen (including ionising
• (b)any disease attributed to an occupational exposure to a
• the responsible person must follow the reporting
procedure, subject to regulations 14 and 15.
• Basel turned on the lights at work and he was
electrocuted to death.
• Does this need to be reported under the