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Managing Workplace Safety

Updated on November 6, 2017
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I have worked in administration most of her working career, some of my experience and knowledge can be found here. Health & Safety included.



Welcome to another one of my hubs relating to health and safety in the workplace.

Why oh why would she want to write about HEALTH AND SAFETY I HEAR YOU SAY!

Firstly let me tell you a little about me and my knowledge within this area. Coming from a Civil Service background and working within an office environment as an Administration Manager I also took on the role of Health & Safety representative.

Whilst taking on this role I found myself on many Health & Safety training courses enabling me to gain the knowledge to carry out Health and Safety inspections within the workplace.

I feel that it is crucial for me to hand down my experiences in this area as Health and Safety is generally not given the time of day in most organisations.

If we can change the mindset of our Employers everyone will be much safer and happier in the workplace and after all that is what we all want is to go to work be safe and get on with our jobs, isn't it?

Coshh and Biological Agents

  • Control of substances hazardous to health define micro-organisms as any microscopic entities capable of replication and cover any property of micro-organisms which create hazards to health.


Personal protective equipment

  • Personal protective equipment must be provided and must be properly stored in a well defined place, it should be checked regularly to ensure it is clean and if any repairs are required replaced.

  • Information for employees

Appropriate notices as well as written instructions should be provided to all employees. Employees must also be informed if biological agents have been released and the necessary control measures that are required. Any accident or incident that may result in this happening must be reported.

Any employees exposed to certain biological agents are obliged to keep a list of those affected, any accidents or incidents and the type of exposure. The list must be kept for 10 years from the last know exposure.

Employers have a duty to notify the Health and Safety Executive in writing of their intention to store or use for the first time one or more biological agents on their premises. Notification must also be given when each subsequent biological agent is sed or stored for the first time.

Emergency plans should be drawn up and in place if the risk assessment identifies that in the event of an accident there would be a risk to those outside the premises or to the environment, these should be kept up to date.

This video looks at the lab

Control of exposure

  • The number of employees exposed to the agent should be reduced to the lowest level that is practicable.
  • Employers must prevent exposure to biological agents by substituting the hazardous agent for a less hazardous one.
  • Design of work processes should prevent or minimise the release of biological agents into the workplace.
  • Appropriate warning signs should be in place and plans to cover accidents involving biological agents, including appropriate decontamination and disinfection procedures should be available.
  • Provision of secure and identifiable containers for contaminated waste should be available and should be safely collected, stored and disposed of.


Risk Assessments

  • Employers should carry out suitable and sufficient assessments of the risks of any work with biological agents likely to be hazardous to the health of employees. Assessments should be reviewed regularly, especially if there is reason to suspect that they are no longer valid or if there has been a significant change in the work pattern.

Prevention could be effected by substituting a non-pathogenic organism for a harmful one or treating organisms in such a way as to render them harmless.

Control of exposure should be secured, where possible by means other than personal protective equipment and detailed information on 'containment levels' for specified work should be gathered.

  • Storage, transport and disposal

Microbial hazards should be stored safely and securely in containers with clear labelling.

Correct packaging and labelling is essential and must be complied with.

COSHH requires employers to take all reasonable steps to ensure control leathers are complied with and that equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in good working order and good repair. Respiratory protective equipment must also be examined regularly. Records must be kept for at least five years.

  • Monitoring exposure and health surveillance

Any employee exposed to biological hazards must be monitored using a suitable procedure which can ensure the control of exposure or protection of health of the employees. COSHH requires that employees must provide suitable health surveillance where an identifiable disease may be related to exposure.

Surveillance may include the completion of a health questionnaire, medical examination and tests of immune status or evidence of infection, provision of contact cards and immunisation where appropriate.

  • Training

Suitable and sufficient information must be provided to employees and instruction and training must also be given. This also includes results of workplace monitoring and the results of health questionnaires.

This video talks about biological hazards

Examples of some occupationally acquired infections

Occupations at risk
Isolation/stdy of pathogents
Laboratory workers and other health service staff
Human tissues and body fluid
Hepatitis, tuberculosis, enteric infections, hiv infections
Health care and mortuary workers, emergency services
Animals/Animal products
Anthrax, brucellosis, leptospirosis, Q fever, chlamydial infections
Agricultural workers, animal handlers, vets, abattoir workers, prcessors of animal products
Sewage/polluted water
Louping ill, Lyme disease
Salmonellosis, shigellosis, hepatitis A infection. leptospirosis
Agricultural and construction workers, gardeners

Other Publications to assist

Safety in laboratories (fourth edition)

information on all aspects of laboratory safety with general safety checklist

Order from Ciba Group Communications, Ciba-Geighy plc, Hulley Road, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK10 2NX United Kingdom.

To summarise

It is in the best interest of management teams to stay ahead of Health and Safety and any issues that arise.

A happy workforce is achieved by listening to your staff and rectifying the problem quickly and safely.

And finally...


Help me out, tell me if you have been told about and know where your health and safety policy is in your organisation


See results

© 2014 Trudy Cooper


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