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WHS G003 Discovery of Laboratory Chemical Spills Guideline

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Section 1 - Overview

(1) UNE seeks to prevent exposure to unknown chemical substances in the event of accidental spillage and/or subsequent discovery by cleaners, other Workers (as defined in Section 4 of this document) and/or students.

Section 2 - Scope

(2) The implementation of this guideline is the responsibility of any Worker or Student that discovers a (suspected) chemical spill within the laboratory setting. As per section 4 of this guideline, a Worker includes but is not limited to both UNE employees and contractors.

Section 3 - Guideline

(3) In the event of accidental spillage or discovery of any substance that is suspected to be a chemical or any other unknown substance, immediately stop all work and exit the room.

(4) Avoid contact and breathing vapours.

(5) Attempt to identify the spilled substance if you can do so safely.

(6) Ensure any other person in the room is advised of the spill and they shall also be required to exit the room.

(7) In the event of large spills or spills that are known to be high risk, immediately call UNE Security on 6773 2099 and they will call 000 if required. Upon UNE Security instructions, initiate evacuation of the building by notifying personnel in the immediate area and the Emergency Warden, if known/available. Follow instructions of emergency personnel.

(8) In the event of small spills, follow the guidelines below.

(9) Turn off ignition sources if you can identify them and if this can be done safely.

(10) Lock all doors to the room upon exiting, after all persons have vacated.

(11) If an isolation lock is available, utilise this to secure the room.

(12) Place a temporary warning on the door crafted from the most adequate materials available (E.g. use paper and a marker and legibly hand write the notice) until more appropriate signage can be obtained and displayed.

(13) Contact the Laboratory Supervisor and advise them of the spill. Remain available by phone so the Laboratory Supervisor can consult on the details of the spill if required.

(14) Obtain safety signage from UNE Security (that excludes entry) and display at all entrances to the room.

(15) The Laboratory Supervisor is to investigate the spill and attempt to safely identify the spilled substance.

(16) The room is to remain isolated until the UNE Lab Supervisor for the room authorises clean up processes appropriate for the substance.

(17) Clean up shall be completed by a Competent Person (as defined in Section 4 of this guideline).

(18) The Laboratory Supervisor is to approve and notify all relevant staff (including FMS and Security) via email that the room may return to normal use.

(19) The person who discovered the spill is responsible for reporting the spill to the UNE WHS unit via an incident report form, and this must be submitted to HRS within 24 hours of the discovery. If all details are not available, submit all known information and ensure the report form is updated as soon as reasonably practicable.

(20) The Laboratory Supervisor is responsible for ensuring an incident investigation takes place to ensure there are effective control measures in place, or introduced, to ensure spillages are unlikely to occur in the future. The HRS/WHS unit is able to assist with this task.

Authority and Compliance

(21) The Rule Administrator, pursuant to the University's Work Health and Safety (WHS) Rule, makes these guidelines.

(22) University Representatives and Students must observe these Guidelines in relation to University matters.

(23) These guidelines operate as and from the Effective Date.

(24) Previous guidelines relating to the discovery of laboratory chemical spills are replaced and have no further operation from the Effective Date of this new guideline.

Section 4 - Definitions

(25) A Worker, as defined by the WHS Act, is a person that carries out work in any capacity for a person conducting a business or undertaking, including work as:

  1. an employee;
  2. a contractor or subcontractor;
  3. an employee of a contractor or subcontractor;
  4. an employee of a labour hire company who has been assigned to work in the person's business or undertaking;
  5. an outworker;
  6. an apprentice or trainee;
  7. a student gaining work experience;
  8. a volunteer; or
  9. Person of a prescribed class.

(26) Competent Person means a person who has acquired through training, qualification or experience the knowledge and skills to carry out the task.

(27) Effective Date means - takes effect on the day on which it is published or on such later day as may be specified in the guideline.

(28) Student means an Admitted Student or an Enrolled Student, at the relevant time.

  1. Admitted student means a student who has been admitted to a UNE course of study and who is entitled to enrol in a unit of study or who has completed all of the units in the UNE course of study.
  2. Enrolled student means a student who is enrolled in a unit of study at UNE.

(29) University Representative means a University employee (casual, fixed term and permanent) contractor, agent, appointee, UNE Council member, adjunct, visiting academic and any other person engaged by the University to undertake some activity for or on behalf of the University. It includes corporations and other bodies falling into one or more of these categories