SAFETYLINE 11

H & S UPDATE NOVEMBER 2001- Bonfire Issue

Anthrax the advice the University issued this week should be followed in the event of a suspect parcel or package being received. However we must stress that the risk of Anthrax in mail in the UK is currently very low, although vigilance is necessary in light of the incidences in America.

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The Howard Hughes Medical Institute are offering free safety videos to help control hazards associated with biomedical research. The videos are designed to introduce new staff to good laboratory practices and to provide a technical safety review for experienced laboratory workers. The videos cover chemical, physical, radiological and biological hazards. The web-site to view is http://www.hhmi.org/research/labsafe/training/videos.html . Safety Services have not had the opportunity to assess their contents, but one University has commented favourably on them.

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Glasgow University suffered a major fire on Wednesday 24th October. A fire started in the roof space of the Botany Department building around 1.15 pm, with extensive damage caused to the roof and top floor. Current estimate of damage is around 8 million. No one was hurt and no details of the actual loss of facilities and information has been given, but the Fire Service were able to salvage some materials and work from the damaged area of the building as well as historic books, pictures and memorabilia. Work is now ongoing to relocate the research groups and to repair materials and documents. This again demonstrates clearly the need for all departments to have Disaster Contingency Plans in place to mitigate the effects of a fire or other disruptive event on activities and facilities.

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One University has recently reported an operational failure on a Hiraeus Christ Minifuge 2 centrifuge, using a swing out rotor. One of the spring retainers holding the buckets failed causing the bucket to come loose smashing the polymer rotor lid. Fragments of the polymer and the sample tube escaped laterally under the centrifuge lid striking three workers causing minor bruising. Fortunately no one was seriously hurt nor were the tube contents corrosive or pathogenic. The centrifuge is a 1980 model and initial investigation suggests that the spring failed due to stress corrosion. If you have a centrifuge in your laboratory of similar model and age it may be wise to contact your local supplier / servicer of the equipment to check the condition of the spring retainers and any other moving part subject to wear or material stress.

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BOC have recently sent information to customers of imminent changes to the colours of industrial gas cylinders. Most Laboratory Managers and Departmental Superintendents have been sent copies of the new colour chart but colour photocopies can be obtained from Safety Services if you do not have access to the chart from others.

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The solvent / degreaser Trichloroethylene (also known as TCE or "trike") is being given a more stringent health classification from Spring 2002, from when it must be labelled as a category 2 carcinogen. Its mutagen status has also been upgraded to category 3. Departments using "trike" in their work or for degreasing purposes should review relevant CoSHH risk assessments because of its re-labelling as a carcinogen, with the emphasis on suitable alternatives or better protection.

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Its almost Bonfire Night again and Fireworks will be lighting the night sky to impress and delight. However every year several adults and children get seriously injured by fireworks, and unwanted fires are an additional risk. Do take care when handling fireworks, follow instructions carefully, keep as far away as practicable from buildings and make sure children, in particular, are kept far enough back to avoid injury. Have a bucket of water handy to douse dud fireworks or extinguish sparks. If possible go to an organised event, the fireworks tend to be better, the display usually lasts longer and the crowd is better managed. Anyway, have a great time and lets hope the weather stays dry. All donations of Bonfire Toffee gratefully received.


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This information has been provided by b.a.coddington@sheffield.ac.uk,
The University of Sheffield