Introduction

There are a wide range of different interactions between ‘science and the public’. Examples range from visiting a museum, or indulging in a science-related hobby, to reading a newspaper article about a breakthrough in the technique of therapeutic cloning, to attending a protest meeting about plans to build a waste disposal unit near to a residential area. Some such interactions are largely one-way; being a member of the audience for a ‘go-hear’ lecture, visiting a museum or‘‘liste
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10 Risk assessment exercise

After reading this unit you might like to carry out a risk assessment of your office environment or a nearby office and one of the following:

  1. a display-screen user risk assessment;

  2. a laboratory-based risk assessment;

  3. a field-work risk assessment for a proposed field expedition.


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9.3 Health

The leader must be informed of any problems of mental or physical health that may affect safety during field-work. This may include, for instance, information on diabetes, asthma or epilepsy; students should also inform the leader if they require extra assistance. All work handling living organisms, soil or water may give some risk of infection, and protection in the form of gloves, masks, etc., may need to be carried. Supervisors should give advice concerning particular health hazards that m
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7.6 Personal protective equipment

Figure 12
Figure 12 Personal protective equipment (PPE) for working with highly corrosive liquids

In most laboratories, laboratory coats and
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7.5 Control measures

7.5.1 Control measures to avoid exposure

There are four main methods of exposure to chemicals:

  1. Inhalation – This is the main method of exposure to volatile solvents and gases.

  2. Skin absorption – Certain chemicals possess the ability to penetrate through pores of skin (for example, mercury compounds and hydr
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7.3 Disposal requirements

Figure 9
Figure 9 Disposal canister

When carrying out a risk assessment, you must consider disposal requirements. For example, any chemical d
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7.2 Information sources

7.2.1 How do I find the information required to carry out COSHH risk assessments?

The best source of information is the material safety data sheet (MSDS). By law (CHIP3) this should accompany any chemical that is purchased. However, if this is not available, or the chemical is old, then copies can be obtained from the manufacturer's website or information can sometimes be found in t
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7.1 Health problems associated with using chemicals

As described in Section 6.2, hazard is defined under COSHH as the inherently dangerous properties of a chemical or biological organism, and risk is defined as the likelihood of a chemical causing harm to people or to the environment.

There are several, more specific, known health problems associated with using chemicals.
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6.1 Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations

For those companies involved in the handling of chemicals and/or biological material there are a number of additional regulations. These are known as the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations. These were introduced in 1988, and the last update was in 1999. These regulations apply to chemicals, biological hazards and dusts.

The essential requirements are that the employer must:

  • make an assessment of the health risk to empl
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5.2 Cryogenic liquids and ionising radiation safety

5.2.1 Cryogenic liquids

There are a number of hazards associated with cryogenic liquids, the main one being that when accidentally released the liquid expands hugely to form a gas (600 times in the case of nitrogen). The formation of such a large volume of gas can lead to asphyxiation in confined areas.

The other main hazard is cold burns (frostbite).

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4.2 Why do I need to know about first aid?

It takes only 3 to 4 minutes for a blocked airway to kill someone, but it can take more than 8 minutes for an ambulance to arrive on the scene. A simple procedure like opening an airway can save someone's life while you are waiting for professional help to arrive.

If you are working with harmful substances (chemicals, biological agents and dusts) you must know the first aid treatment if you are exposed. Do not expect a nurse or a doctor to know everything about every harmful substance.
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4.1 First aid

It is not required that students be trained in first aid. It is, however, important that a first aid kit is carried when you are likely to be away from immediate assistance. First aid must be rendered at once, and medical and relief help should be sought if necessary. It is important that appropriate first aid skills for use in the field are understood by those who might need them and that the procedures for enlisting help are known.

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3 Office safety

The relevant safety legislation for offices includes the Display Screen Equipment Regulations, which concern computer monitors and workstations. If electrical devices are used, then the Electricity at Work Regulations will apply. See Appendix A for a list of potential safety problems and considerations for offices and Appendix B for a checklist.

Click 'view document' to open Appendix A.

2 Legal requirements of health and safety in the UK

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act (HSWA) 1974 states that:

  • It is the duty of every employer, so far as is reasonably practicable, to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of all employees (this includes students).

  • It is the duty of every employee while at work to take reasonable care of himself (herself) and of other persons who may be affected by his (her) acts or omissions at work.

  • The employees must co
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1 History of health and safety

The discipline of health and safety is relatively modern, only developing in the last century. However, throughout the ages people have voiced their concerns about people being exposed to harmful substances. Hippocrates mentions in the 4th century BC that lead miners and workers tended to suffer from diseases. The phrase ‘mad as a hatter’ was coined because mercury used in the hat industry caused mental illness. In 1775 Pott reported that chimney s
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Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit you should be able to:

  • understand the legal framework of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Regulations associated with it;

  • understand the employers’, employees’ and visitors’ duties;

  • evaluate hazards and risks in order to carry out a risk assessment;

  • understand the legal requirement to report any accident or dangerous occurrence;

  • develop risk assessments for scientific laborat
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Introduction

Ths unit is an adapted extract from the course Postgraduate research skills in science (STM895)

This unit is designed to introduce you to the concepts of health and safety within a science laboratory or in the field. There are a number of legal requirements that must be adhered to before carrying out work in a laboratory. One of these is the necessity to carry out risk assessments on the chemical and biological agents that are to be used as part of your practical work activities. As par
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References

Bauer, M. W. and Gaskell, G. (2002) Biotechnology: The Making of a Global Controversy, Cambridge University Press.
Bowring, F. (2003) Science, Seeds and Cyborgs, Verso, London.
Campbell, S. (2004) A genetically modified survey, Spiked 
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5 Summary

At the time of writing (2006) a relatively small number of types of GM crop have been grown globally, in a limited number of countries. The take-up of these crops has been relatively high in countries like the USA and Canada, but very much lower in Europe. However, there is a very rapid increase in the growth of GM crops in developing countries.

The technique most commonly used to introduce new genetic material into dicots has involved the use of a modified soil bacterium, Agrobacter
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4.3 Golden Rice in the public domain

In January 2000, the successful experiments were announced in a paper published in the American journal Science. This, in itself, is significant. Generally, work on genetic manipulation would be published in one of a number of more specialist journals. Publication in a journal like Science indicates that this was important work, likely to be of interest to a wider audience. In its ‘Notes for Authors’, the journal states that ‘Priority is given to papers that reveal novel c
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