Rhodes>Safety>Resources>Lab Safety

Rhodes University Laboratory Safety

Every laboratory on Rhodes University campus should have readily available: Material Safety Data Sheets and a Laboratory Safety Manual.

Legally compliant Chemical Storage facilities must be in place.

The HOD/Manager must ensure that an assessment of potential exposure for personnel is carried out, and ongoing medical surveillance where required.

All lab users and cleaners must receive adequate information and training.

Material Safety Data Sheet‌‌s

Each and every lab or department that works with chemicals and other hazardous materials should have printed Material Safety Data Sheet‌‌ for each chemical in that laboratory - readily accessible (even during power failures) in case of emergency, e.g. for first aid or fire-fighting info.

References and downloads:

Lab managers and technicians can download MSDSs from suppliers' websites, or request these to be delivered together with the chemicals.

Information and Training

Any person (researchers, students, cleaners, service providers) who has any access to laboratories containing hazardous chemical must receive adequate information and training, initially and at regular intervals thereafterr.

References and downloads:

Assessment of Potential Exposure

The OHS Act Hazardous Chemical Substances Regulations requires (5) Assessment of potential exposure of all employees who work in high-risk areas, and keep a record of the assessment and take into account such matters as:

a) the HCS to which an employee may be exposed;
b) what effects the HCS can have on an employee;
c) where the HCS may be present and in what physical form it is likely to be;
d) the route of intake and extent to which an employee can be exposed; and
e) the nature of the work, process and any reasonable deterioration or failure of control measures.

The HCS regulations call for compulsory pre-employment examinations - the Human Resources Division is responsible for ensuring that this is carried out.

Medical Surveillance

Medical surveillance is defined in the OHS Act as "a planned programme of periodic examination (which may include clinical examinations, biological monitoring or medical tests) of employees by an occupational health practitioner or, in prescribed cases, by an occupational medicine practitioner".

It is a form of continuous risk assessment and may take the form of:

a) biological monitoring, to measure the extent of absorption of an HCS by the employee.
b) medical screening, to detect any adverse effects of an HCS on the employee.

The Manager/HOD and affiliated medical personnel are responsible for ensuring that this is carried out timeously, as per the requirements of the relevant employee's Occupational Risk and Exposure Profile (OREP). 

Laboratory Safety Protocols and Manuals

Every department that works with chemicals and other hazardous materials should also have a readily accessible Laboratory Safety Manual and/or Safety Protocols. These should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that risks are kept to a minimum, and staff and students can work in a laboratory environment that is safe and without risk to health.

The materials below have been developed at Rhodes University. Staff and students are welcome to use these examples, and modify them to suit their specific building or departmental needs:

Chemical Storage 


The OHS Act stipulates that any hazardous chemical substances in storage or used by personnel on campus must be properly identified, classified and handled - in accordance with SABS 072 and SABS 0228.

References and downloads:


Go to Safety Resources front page

Return to Rhodes University's Safety front page. Questions/Suggestions? Contact safety(at)ru.ac.za

Last Modified: Thu, 26 Apr 2018 15:04:02 SAST