Occ health: OHSA for water and sanitation laboratories

OHSA IN WATER AND SANITATION MICROBIOLOGY LABORATORIES

DEFINITIONS
Supervisor: this is a person who takes charge of a workplace or has authority over a worker. The supervisor is responsible for all matters of health and safety in the lab and will keep records pertaining to health and safety of the lab
Laboratory worker: a labortory worker or user is anyone, student, staff or faculty, who works in a laboratory, including those that have supervisory responsibilities
Unattended procedures or equipment: these are procedures or equipment that is left functioning when no one is present in the lab

RESPONSIBILITIES OF SUPERVISORS
The supervisors of a laboratory have the overall responsibility for safety. The supervisor can appoint health and safety representatives (H&Sreps), fire representatives and evacuation representatives to assist him in these tasks. Prior to any work being performed in a new laboratory it is the supervisor’s responsibility to ensure that workers are aware of safety rules and follow them .

Safety training should include
– Induction for new-comers
– Training on special or unusual hazards in the lab
– Use of specific emergency equipment and emergency response

Records of training must be kept and a copy sent to the audit file

The supervisor must ensure that
– emergency equipment is in proper working order
– incident investigation reports are completed for every incident that occurs in the lab. Examples of incidents are accidents requiring first aid or medical attention, incidents resulting into property damage such as spills, fires, explosions, as well as near-misses

RESPONSIBILITY OF LAB WORKERS
All lab workers are responsible for
– following safety rules as per guideline
– wearing personal protective equipment (PPE)
– reporting incidents to supervisor
– reporting unsafe conditions to supervisor
– reporting unsafe conditions to health and safety representatives of the lab
– participating in medical screening programs
– attending courses as directed by the supervisor

GENERAL HEALTH AND SAFETY PRINCIPLES
Lab workers should observe the following
– Food and beverages are not permitted in the lab
– Consume food stuffs in designated areas
– Use PPE
– No long hair or loose clothing permitted
– Use correct pipetting device; no pipetting by mouth
– Exposure to gasses, vapours, aerosols and particulates by using fume hood
– Wash hands after lab procedures
– Inform supervisor of unsafe conditions
– Use correct safety equipment. Know their location
– Determine potential hazards before beginning new operations
– Avoid distracting other workers while they are performing lab tasks. No horse play allowed
– Ensure visitors are supplied with safety equipment
– Hazardous agents must be stored according to policy
– Consult the material data safety sheet (MSDS) prior to working with unknown chemical substances
– Follow proper waste disposal procedures

BASIC SAFETY PROCEDURES
Working alone
– For working with hazardous materials (such as sulphuric acid) or procedures the supervisor has the right to require that at least one other worker be present

Housekeeping
– Work areas must be free of obstruction
– Stairways should not be used for storage.
– Bicycles are not allowed in the buildings
– Walkways and aisles must be kept clear
– Access to emergency equipment or exits must never be blocked
– Equipment and chemicals must be stored properly
– Spilled chemicals must be dealt with immediately and if safe cleaned up by the user of the chemical
– Waste must be discarded of in the correct container

LAB EQUIPMENT MAINTENANCE
Lab equipment must be inspected and maintained by a qualified person. The frequency of the inspection depends on the hazard posed by the equipment, the manufacturer’s instructions, or as required by regulations. Records of the maintenance must be kept on file by the supervisor and available at all times. Chemicals that have expired need to be disposed of in specialised containers and be managed by specilaised chemical removers

GLASSWARE
– Repair or dispose of damaged glassware
– Follow the proper disposal procedures for damaged glassware
– Ensure adequate hand protection when working with glass tubing
– Wear appropriate hand protection when picking up broken glass
– Ensure proper instruction on use and cleaning of glassware
– Specific procedures may apply to contaminated glassware

FLAMMABLE AND COMBUSTABLE MATERIAL HAZARD
– Use an open flame only as long as necessary and extinguish it when done
– Remove all flammable and combustible materials from the work area before lighting flame of the handheld gas burners or other lab burners
– Store all flammable and combustable materials properly as required by the Fire Department

The gas containers which are used by the handheld gas burners must not be placed near the combustible chemicals
Chemicals used in the laboratory may not be disposed of into the sewerage sytem. It needs to be disposed of into a special container and removed by a registered company

ELECTRICAL EQUIPEMNT
– Extension cords must not be used for permanent installations
– There must be no water on the floor when working with electrical equipment
– No personal electrical heaters are allowed in the lab
– Only trained qualified personnel may repair or modify electrical or electronic equipment

PPE
It is the responsibility of everyone working in the lab to wear the correct PPE
Work requiring the use of fume hoods should not be performed during electrical load shedding
All personnel in the lab must wear PPE. Visitors must be given overcoats.

Gloves
– Check their integrity prior to working.
– Remove gloves after work using the correct technique

Eye protection
– An individual exposed to a possible eye injury shall wear eye protection.
– Approved safety glasses are the minimum protection required.
– Goggles and shields must be worn when working with sulphric acid.
– Eye wash bottles must be available when sulphuric acid or other corrosives are used

Skin protection
– Lab coats must be removed prior to leaving the lab and laundered seperately from other clothing
– Buttoned closed when worn
– Rubber aprons must be worn when handling corrosive or reactive material

Respiratory proetction
– Fume hoods must be used when working with sulphuric acid.
– A hygiene survey will indicate whether the current respirators are the right ones

Hearing protection
– Hearing protectors are required for noise above 85dB (the law stiplates 90dB but 85 is even more safe). Machines in the lab episodically deliver noise of 85 and higher decibels.
– A hygiene report will determine whether noise levels are acceptbale and whether noise protection is indicated

Foot protection
– Employees are required to wear closed shoes at all times