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School of Engineering and Materials Science


Safety Regulations in the Engineering Workshop/Lab


In industry and colleges, accidents are unfortunately all too common. They vary in degree from the trivial to, in exceptional circumstances, fatalities. In the main these accidents are caused by ignorance, horseplay or abuse of machinery and/or equipment.

The Law

The Health and Safety of People at Work is covered by a variety of Acts of Parliament, each Act containing a book of laws and regulations which govern the way in which work may be done in the workplace and the processes, operations and equipment employed to do that work.

SEMS General Workshop Rules

  1. Horseplay and unruly behaviour of any kind will not be tolerated at any time in the workshops.
  2. Machines, tools and equipment must be used in the correct manner and never misused.
  3. Approved steel toe-capped footwear must be worn at all times.
  4. Overalls must be worn in the correct manner at all times, i.e. fastened correctly.
  5. Protective goggles must be worn in the Workshops.
  6. When operating machinery, loose jewellery (necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings, watches etc) must be removed or made safe.
  7. Long hair must be restrained (either tied back, under a hat or hairnet or pinned back) at all times.
  8. Machines must not be left unattended at any time during operation.
  9. Machinery is to be operated by only one person at a time.
  10. Protective guarding must be used if fitted to a machine.
  11. The operator's attention must not be distracted whilst the machine is in operation.
  12. Do not lean on the machines whether in use or not.
  13. After use, all tools must be stored in the correct location or returned to the storeroom.
  14. All arc welding processes must be screened correctly to control any harmful radiation.
  15. Arc welding masks/shields must be used during ALL arc welding processes.
  16. All gas welding processes must be shut down correctly after use.
  17. Gas welding goggles must be worn during gas welding processes.
  18. Machines, equipment and associated areas must be cleaned correctly after use.
  19. When a machine or piece of equipment is operational, never attempt to touch any of the moving parts. In an emergency, power should be switched off first.
  20. Never touch swarf (even if the machine is not operational) without wearing gloves.
  21. All spillages must be attended to and cleared immediately.
  22. All breakages/damage must be reported immediately.
  23. Exhaust/fume extractors must be used at all times when appropriate.
  24. All machines must be isolated and locked after use.

SEMS General Lab Rules

  1. Laboratory coats must be worn at all times in the SEMS laboratories.
  2. Laboratory coats should regularly be sent for cleaning.
  3. No eating, drinking or smoking is allowed at any time within the laboratories.
  4. No procedure should be performed without proper risk assessment and training. Risk assessments for standard procedures and COSHH approved hazard data sheets are available within the facility.
  5. No equipment should be used without proper training.
  6. It should be assumed that lab coats are worn at all times unless directed by a specific risk assessment not to do so
  7. It should be assumed that safety goggles are worn at all times unless directed by a specific risk assessment not to do so
  8. Additional safety equipment must be used where indicated in the risk assessments or COSHH data sheets e.g. gloves, facemasks etc.
  9. Procedures must be carried out within appropriate safety cabinets (fume cabinet, class II cabinets) as indicated in the risk assessment and COSHH data sheets.
  10. Work areas must be left clean and tidy after use.
  11. Equipment used must be left clean and tidy following appropriate shut down procedures.
  12. Any contamination of work surfaces or equipment must be dealt with promptly. If unsure, contact the Lab manager or safety officer.
  13. All reagents or samples, whether in storage or in use, must be clearly dated and labeled with details of the substance and a name or initials to determine the user. Where appropriate, additional hazard warning labels, such as radioactive tape, must be applied.
  14. Samples and reagents must be stored correctly
  15. All waste must be disposed of promptly in an appropriate manner as directed by the risk assessment
  16. Any problems encountered with equipment must be reported immediately to the technician in charge or directly to the Lab manager. Do not walk away from the problem, leaving it to someone else.
  17. Ensure that any general consumable which is running out is re-ordered. Do not leave it to someone else.
  18. Ensure the laboratories are adequately stocked with paper towel and that distilled water/alcohol bottles etc. are filled up. Do not leave it to someone else.
  19. All glassware should be properly washed and left to dry after use.
  20. Help to keep the laboratories clean. Do not leave it to someone else.


Guidelines for using fume cupboards in labs

The fume cupboard is a ventilated work space designed aerodynamically for the safety of the operator. It will not work properly if it is cluttered up with excess equipment or vessels, which affect the airflow.


Before starting work

  • Clean out the fume cupboard
  • Remove everything which is not needed
  • All chemicals from the fume cupboard should be removed to a suitable store. Cleaning the internal surfaces will reduce the risk of contamination. It will also reduce the risk of mixing incompatible substances
  • Refer to the laboratory supervisor’s risk analysis and schedule of chemical quantities permitted on the fume cupboard
  • Make sure that the fume cupboard is suitable for intended use, and has enough space to do the work safely
  • Adopt work methods that minimise the release of fumes
  • Consider appropriate quantities of substances involved, the rate of reaction, and design of apparatus
  • Make sure the fume cupboard is working
  • Start up the fume cupboard and check the status of airflow, the audible/visual alarm will activate if there is a velocity drop below safe working level
  • Set up all the equipment required for the work inside the fume cupboard, with sufficient quantity of reagents
  • Position apparatus and materials near the centre and rear of the work space
  • Ignition sources are not to be placed within the sump of the fume cupboard
  • Check that a suitable fire extinguisher is at hand.

Ready for use

  • The fume cupboard is now ready in use
  • Wear protective equipment appropriate to the task
  • Keep the sash lowered as much as practical during use.


After use

  • After use, dispose the waste substances with due regard for their potential to create hazards, and within the rules of the local authorities.
  • Refer also to the laboratory supervisor and the laboratory risk analysis
  • Maintain the fume chamber in clean condition to avoid chemical contamination and damage to the fume cupboard
  • Remove unused chemicals to a suitable store
  • Do not use a fume cupboard for the storage of chemicals
  • Lower the sash even if the cupboard is fitted with an automatic sash.



As with all laboratory equipment care should be taken when operating in or at a fume cupboard, and there are do’s and don’ts to be followed.



  • Do always turn on the fume cupboard fan before starting work at a fume cupboard.
  • Do always work, whenever possible with sash at the maximum working height (350 mm). The sash should be used as a “visor” for facial protection when possible.
  • Do, when using a scrubber unit turn on the fan before starting the scrubber pump, this will prevent possible splashing.
  • Do, when using a scrubber, dump water from re-circulation tank at the end of each days use, or as specified by SEMS.
  • Do leave the fume cupboard in a clean and tidy state.
  • Do position any apparatus in the fume cupboard, (raise any flat bottomed items from worktop and away from sides) so as to minimise disturbance of the airflow to the working aperture, this is a major cause of fume leakage.



  • Do not place heating baths directly on the surface on the fume cupboard work top, as this can cause serious damage to the work top. Legs of at least 25 mm should be used to raise the base of the heating bath from the work top.
  • Do not drop any heavy items on the base of the fume cupboard.
  • Do not place Bunsen burners close to the side walls of the fume cupboard.
  • Do not leave spillages of any aggressive substances laying on the fume cupboard worktop, clean them as soon as practicable, as this will increase the working life of the fume cupboard.
  • Do not pour substances down the fume cupboard drain. Refer to how your laboratory procedure requires different methods of disposal.
  • Do not switch off the fan until the sash has been lowered, and such time has been allowed for the release of fumes to cease, and suitable time has been allowed for the system to purge itself.
  • Do not carry out any work in a fume cupboard, for which the fume cupboard is not suited, if in doubt check SEMS health and safety coordinator
  • Do not overcrowd the fume cupboard it is not a storage unit.


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