Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.
Skip to main content

This page provides information relating to health and safety, security, first aid and accident reporting, fire alarm and exits, laboratory rules, training, risk assessment, disposal of laboratory waste, laboratory disinfection policy, chemical storage and waste and out of hours working.

Where more detail is required relevant standard operating procedures (SOP) and risk assessments (RA) will be referenced. It is expected that all personnel will read and understand documentation referenced herein.


NDMRB = NDM Research Building

TDI = Target Discovery Institute

The University = The University of Oxford

HSE = Health and Safety Executive

EA = Environment Agency

DSO = Departmental Safety Officer

SOP = Standard Operating Procedure

RA = Risk Assessment

1.0  Health and Safety Information

All members of staff MUST attend a laboratory induction within one month of their contract start date (UPS S5/10).

Working within the NDM Research Building, you are within the jurisdiction of the University of Oxford. Therefore you must adhere to the health and safety rules of the University of Oxford as well as the NDM Research Building and your area.

University policy statements are referenced and highlighted throughout the pages. Where they are relevant they must be read before commencing with work that they cover.

Health and safety posters are displayed around the building and detail all of the relevant contacts with regards to health and safety and first aid.

Lists of first aiders are to be found by each first aid box.

Guidance for suitable secondary containment for the transport of substances between buildings can be found here: secondary containment for the transport of substances between buildings.

2.0  Security

The NDM Research Building uses proximity card access. All visitors must report to Reception and anyone attempting to enter the building should be directed to Reception. Do not let anyone use your card or let anyone tail gate you into the building.

3.0  First aid and accident reporting

First aid boxes are located in the laboratory areas and the kitchen areas. It is your responsibility to know where your nearest first aid box is located. Eye wash stations and full body showers are located by the sinks in the laboratories.

In the event of an accident/incident, including any ‘near misses’, there must be a full and prompt completion of a University Accident/Incident report form. These are available from Reception and the Departmental Safety Officer (DSO), who also must be informed.

Further information regarding the reporting of accidents, incidents, disease and near misses can be found within University Safety Policy UPS S1/14 and Slips, Trips and Falls UPS S3/08.

4.0  Fire alarm and exits

The fire alarm is tested each Thursday at 11am.

During this time, if you hear the alarm you do not need to take any action unless the alarm continues for more than 30 seconds. Should the alarm sound for longer than 30 seconds then it is to be treated as a true fire alarm. In the event of the fire alarm sounding without warning you must evacuate the building immediately by the nearest marked exit. Leave all belongings behind and do not use lifts. The meeting point is the gravel carpark by the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics.

If you have visitors you are responsible for informing them of this evacuation procedure and ensuring that in the event of an alarm they follow you to the meeting point.

The University employs a no smoking policy - there is no smoking permitted anywhere in the building.

5.0  Laboratory Rules

The majority of the laboratories within the NDMRB are classed as CL2 labs. The rules for working within these labs will be outlined in a lab induction which is held every Tuesday, 9.45am, Basement Meeting Room in the NDMRB. Please contact Reception to book a place.

There are separate lab inductions for the use of the CL3 suite - this will need to be arranged separately.

Rules for the handling of radioactive material at the NDMRB can be found on the website. No radioactive work is to be carried out without the staff member having been trained by, and having notified to the Building Radiation Protection Supervisor.

Containment level 2 laboratories:

  • Only authorised persons may enter and/or work in the laboratories.
  • Persons below the age of 16 must not enter the laboratories.
  • Lab coats, gloves and safety glasses (PPE) must be worn at all times whilst working at the bench. The only exceptions are:
    • People passing through the labs.
    • Where a risk assessment has shown that PPE is not required in a specific area.
  • Sensible footware must be worn, no open toes.
  • Never eat, drink, smoke, chew gum or apply cosmetics.
  • No storage of food or drink for human consumption is allowed.
  • Always wash your hands after laboratory work, using the hand wash basins provided.
  • All cuts and abrasions must be covered by waterproof dressings.
  • Personal headsets may be used in the laboratory if only one headphone is used.
  • Radios may be permitted with the agreement of all lab users.
  • All waste must be disposed of in accordance with the NDMRB policies.
  • All accidents, dangerous incidents and near misses must be reported to the DSO.
  • No person should undertake work activities for which they have not been suitably trained.
  • A glove must be removed when using a door or lift.
  • Work surfaces and equipment must be cleaned and/or disinfected once work is completed.
  • Waste must not be allowed to accumulated in the laboratory areas or fume hoods and all waste must be disposed of in accordance with the NDMRB waste policy.
  • Report all problems with equipment straight away.
  • Ensure that you are familiar with the local emergency procedures including: Fire evacuation routes, location of spill kits and location of fire extinguishers.

The work you intend to carry out must have been risk assessed BEFORE the work commences.

University safety policies regarding lab rules, PPE and risk assessment can be found here:

S3/01 Safety Rules for laboratories where there is a risk of chemical exposure

S5/08 Risk Assessment

S3/14 Fume Cupboards

S3/02 Personal protective equipment at work regulations 1992

S8/14 Eye protection

6.0  Training

Training must be given and signed off before you use equipment that may present hazards. This includes: Centrifuges, electrophoresis units, homogenisers and gases (including liquid nitrogen and dry ice).

Staff, students and visitors must complete the training form and Risk Assessment which is available from the Lab Manager.

Individual SOPs and RAs will be supplied during training.

7.0 Risk Assessment

Before any activity can commence, a suitable and adequate Risk Assessment (RA) must be written and in place. Users should refer to the Safety Data Sheet available for the instrument or substance to be used to establish any level of hazard present in the procedure. Users will then evaluate the risk associated with this procedure depending on the methods and quantities used using the risk matrix.

Users should refer to the University policy and guidelines as regards Risk assessment (UPS S5/08). Additional advice is available from the HSE website. Users should consult with their Line Manager and Laboratory Managers for specific guidelines.

8.0  Disposal of laboratory waste

The disposal of chemical and biohazard waste from the laboratory is subject to specific rules and regulations imposed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Environment Agency (EA).

It is the responsibility of all personnel to ensure that all waste is treated and disposed of correctly in the laboratory.

  • Black Sacks and black bins: For domestic, non-contaminated waste only. Cardboard may be recycled and and put into blue bins.
  • Autoclave bags and silver bins: For all contaminated waste, including all gloves (whether contaminated or not). Please do not over fill autoclave bags. When full tie with a cable tie and put into the relevant collection bin.
  • Sharps bins: For disposal of needles and small glass items only. When full inform the Laboratory Manager who will empty.
  • Glass bins
    • Clean broken glassware: Clean is defined as had no contact with chemicals or biological substances. Clean broken glassware can be disposed of by collecting the broken item and disposing straight into the lab glassware bins.

      Chemically contaminated broken glassware: Glassware which has come into contact with toxic substances must be collected in a clearly identified bin and collected by the HSO.

      Biologically contaminated broken glassware: Glassware that has come into contact with biological substances must be collected and put into a dispo jar. This glassware must be autoclaved before it can be disposed of using the normal channels.

9.0  Laboratory Disinfection Policy

The University’s approved disinfection agent is ‘Virkon’. Virkon has a broad spectrum bactericidal and virucidal activity, is of low hazard to human health, has good cleaning properties, has a colour activity indicator and results in reduced metal tarnishing. 

  • General Laboratory disinfection:
    • Wash down benches, centrifuges, etc. and deep clean microbiological safety cabinets using freshly prepared 1% CHEMGENE or DISTEL.
    • Use 70% alcohol (industrial methylated spirit or ethanol) to swab down microbiological safety cabinets before and after use.
    • The floor can be mopped with very dilute (0.1%) Virkon.
  • Experimental material:
    • Maix discarded phage, viral, bacterial, yeast or cell culture with 1% Virkon (final concentration) using freshly prepared stock Virkon solution or by adding Vikron powder directly. Treat for 1 hour.
    • Material can then be discarded down the drains.
    • Treated disposable plasticware should be autoclaved as per Local Rules.
  • Blood from low risk population:
    • Make up to 2% Virkon (final concentration) and treat for at least 1 hour.
    • Material can then be discarded down the drain.
    • Blood from risk groups and larger quantities of blood should be disposed of via the Clinical Waste system.
  • Hazard Group 2 or 3 organisms:
    • Work with such material has the disinfection procedure clearly specified in the risk assessment and posted in the laboratory.
    • Virkon may be appropriate for work but is not necessarily effective against all micro-organisms and an appropriate disinfectant must be used for each pathogen.
  • Biological Spillage:
    • See point 10.0 below.

Decon and other similar cleaning agents are NOT disinfectants and should not be used for disinfection purposes.

Hypochlorite-based solution (bleach, Chloros) poses hazards to human health and is corrosive and should not be used unless specified for a particular organism.

  • Domestic bleach should never be used as a disinfectant as the concentration and effectiveness can vary widely.

10.0 Spillage policy

For chemical and biological substances, assess the size of the spill and hazard posed to personnel and fabric.

Do not attempt to clear up a large hazardous spill if working alone.

  • Is it possible to clear up the spill without compromising the safety of yourself or your colleagues:
  • No:
    1. Vacate the area, allow any aerosol to settle.
    2. Warn and evacuate all other personnel in the vicinity.
    3. Seal access to the area if possible, inform Supervisor and/or Laboratory Manager.
  • Yes:
  • Chemical Spill:
    1. Fetch spill kit, wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
    2. Contain the spill using the pads or granules provided in the spill kit.
    3. Place pads and absorbing materials in plastic bags and dispose via the University hazardous waste system.
    4. For more aggressive materials, alkalis, caustics, solvents, etc. and oils: contain spill with sock and spillage binder granules ensuring you wear a FFP2 or FFP3 marked dust mask. Dispose of in a plastic bag through the university hazardous waste system.
    5. Inform Departmental Safety Officer of used item from the spill kit and ensure that it is replenished.
  • Biological Spill (bacterial, TC suspension, blood) at CL1 or CL2:
    1. Sprinkle Virkon powder liberally over the spill. Do not add Vikron in solution as this will increase in the size of the spill.
    2. Cordon off the area and leave for at least 30min for all fluid to be absorbed by Virkon and disinfection to occur.
    3. If spill involves CL2 genetically modified micro-organisms or other hazardous microorganisms: place in autoclave bag and send to be autoclaved.
    4. If spill involves blood: place in clinical waste bag (yellow) and dispose of via clinical waste system.
    5. For all other biological spills, place in sink and run the tap to dilute and drain.
N.B. Containment CL3 laboratory has specific emergency procedures in place.
Enter details of all potentially hazardous incidents in Department Accidental book.

11.0 Actions to be taken following a needlestick/sharps/splash injury

The University policy regarding action to be taken following a needlestick/sharps/splash injury is displayed in the laboratory and is available here.

  • Wounds:
    • Encourage bleeding - do not suck.
    • Wash well under running water.
    • Cover with a dry dressing.
  • Splash incidents:
    • If in the mouth: do not swallow, rinse mouth out several times with cold water.
    • If in the eye: remove contact lenses.
    • Irrigate eyes well with cold running water.
  • Report the incident to the senior person on duty
  • If exposure to potentially infectious material:
    • Immediately contact the Occupational Health Service 01865 (2) 82676 (weekdays 8.30-17.00).
    • If out of hours contact the on-call microbiologist at the John Radcliffe Hospital via the switchboard 01865 -741166,
    • Record the source of the (potentially) infectious material if known,
    • Ensure that Occupational Health Service is notified of the incident the next working day.

12.0  Chemical Storage and Waste

Please see the SOP and RA for Handling, Storage and Disposal of Lab Waste. It is recommended you seek advice from your Lab Manager regarding chemical storage and waste collections.

13.0  Out of hours working

Core hours for staff are 8am - 6pm, visitor hours are restricted to 9am - 5pm.

If you need access to the laboratory out of these hours then Out of Hours Access needs to be approved and granted. Please seek guidance from your Line Manager or Laboratory Manager.

Lone working is not permitted unless there is more than one person present in the laboratory; however, lone working in the offices is generally acceptable.

Out of hours and lone working may be granted once the relevant sign off sheet has been completed and approved.

The access sheet can be requested from Reception.

For the unattended operation of apparatus and equipment please see:

NDMRB-RA-104 Overnight Experiments

  • University Safety Policy UPS S4/01 Unattended operation of apparatus and equipment
  • TDI CL2 Lab Unattended Experiment form
  • TDI Med Chem Unattended Experiment form

A risk assessment MUST be completed for all work before it commences and in particular for any experimental work that may be left unattended.

When you work in the NDMRB out of hours you MUST sign in and out of the building every time you enter or leave.

14.0 Emergencies during out of hours

When working out of hours you must adhere to the guidance which is available in the following documents:

NDMRB-SOP-003 Lone working in the NDMRB

NDMRB-RA-007 Lone working in the NDMRB

NDMRB-RA-008 Lone working in the NDMRB CL3 suites

NDMRB-RA-009 Lone working in the NDMRB Radiation suite

In the event of an emergency out of hours, you must dial (9)999 and then inform OUSS 89999 who will assist in giving access to the Emergency Services. All OUSS guards are first aid trained and can assist in the event of an accident or emergency. When you call the emergency number for OUSS you will contact "control" which is based in the South Park Science area. You will need to inform them that you are in the NDMRB, also known as building 664, on the Old Road Campus.

If there is a structural/electrical/water/liquid nitrogen failure you must ensure that the area is cordoned off and a sign put on display that there is an issue. You are NOT expected to isolate anything or put yourself in harm's way. The out of hours facilities on call number (07788443286) must be called and whoever is on call will deal with the situation and advise you accordingly.

In the event of a fire, you must break a red emergency box and evacuate the building. The muster point is to the rear of the building, by the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics on the gravel car park.