Chemical safety, as with all safety, starts with you being aware of the risks you are about to take or be exposed to, with the chemicals you are about to use. There are a number of aids to help you be safe!
Start by reading all SOP and RA regarding Handling and use of chemicals, this has its roots in University policy statement S6/05. When you have read the guidance notes make sure you record this on your Staff training form.
Chemical COSHH assessments must be carried out before using a substance or carrying out a procedure.
Other useful tools are found on CRL's web site, including S and R statements, definitions and MSDS sheets and how to read them.
COSHH assessments are done with this guidance note and on this University Proforma word document. These are task based and not done for each chemical in the lab. Assessments should be in place before work begins.