Revised: 4 December 2013 (new details for goods return for used Merck cell tests)


Assess Safety, Health, Quality and Environmental aspects of each specific step.


This instruction details the safe handling of chemicals in the laboratories. It is the mimimum training required, before staff may undertake any work in the laboratory. Further training in laboratory safety is available as an online courses at: and In the Delta library in the laboratory there are books and individual copies of a training manual on laboratory safety. Keep a copy for yourself and use it as a self-paced learning resource to increase you awareness of safety in a laboratory environment. The laboratory library also contains DVD videos from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (Practicing Safe Science and Safety in the Research Laboratory).


The Delta dress code applies. Use appropriate PPE




General points    

Personal protective equipment (PPE) should be used when handling chemicals. The basic dress requirements are:

  • Wear enclosed shoes
  • Wear safety glasses when handling chemicals.
  • Use other PPE (gloves etc) as necessary.
  • Wear a laboratory coat in the lab.
  • Do not wear laboratory coats outside laboratory.

Laboratory coats may carry chemicals on them into other areas.

Only wear laboratory coats in the laboratories. Remove laboratory coat if it has chemicals spilt on it, and wash it.

Ensure adequate ventilation of laboratories. Turn on fan or open the windows to create a flow of air


No food or drink is to be consumed in the laboratories.

Chemicals may be transferred on the item being ingested.


Wash areas of exposed skin before leaving laboratory.

There may be small amounts of chemicals on skin.

Keep work area clean and uncluttered.

Chemicals may accumulate on worksurfaces.

Clutter may contribute to accidents.

Wipe down benches daily.

Wash up and put away on completion of tests. Keep different operations in separate areas.

Examine all test methods and instructions carefully before starting work to determine the safety requirements.



Purchase of chemicals    

Only purchase those chemicals required for specific tests

Unrequired chemicals complicate chemical storage and management.

Review what tests are being performed and what chemicals are needed, annually. Dispose of unneeded reagents.

Purchase the safer alternative if one exists.

Many chemicals react with each other or are toxic.

Consider whether a safer reagent can be used, whether it is available in smaller packs, or a more stable, longer lasting form. For example, the Lovibond nitrate reagents replace cadmium with zinc (reductant) and present the reagents in foiled tablets to reduce wastage and increase stability.

Purchase small amounts of reagents.

Many reagents deteriorate over time.

Small purchases reduce the wastage and safe disposal issues.

Purchase from suppliers who provide a reagent return service.

Storage of chemicals    

Before storing chemicals check that all containers are labelled with their ingredients, unless they are exempt (e.g. calcium indicator). Chemicals decanted for IMMEDIATE use do not require labels.

Some products decanted into storage bottles from larger containers may not have labels

Either ask the supplier for a label, or print out a label from the information on the MSDS.

Ensure separation of chemicals that are incompatible with each other. Use separate cupboards, or place in deep trays.

Determining which chemicals are incompatible.

See each chemical’s MSDS for details.

Ensure cupboards for chemical storage are dry and exclude light.


Mark the date of opening on reagent containers.

Many reagents deteriorate over time.

Dispose of after the period specified on the reagent’s label.

Handling of chemicals    

Never mouth pipette or start a siphon by mouth suction.

Ingesting chemicals.

A pipetting bulb is available for use with glass pipettes and siphons.

Slowly add acids or bases to water, while stirring, never the reverse.

Acids and bases may splash onto the worker.

Water added to acids may boil explosively.

Dilute the sample, rather than the reagent. Then add the reagent to the sample.

Do not pour reagents directly into sample receptacles.

Too much splashes or falls out, causing spillage.

Decant some reagent into a smaller receptacle prior to use.

Do not allow splashing of reagents by careless pouring.

Splashing may result in worker injury.

Use a glass rod to direct flow into receptacles.

Disposal of chemicals    

Reduce waste.

Disposal is difficult for large quantities of chemicals.

Purchase small quantities of reagents.

Reclaim waste.

Some elements are valuable (e.g. the silver in silver nitrate) and may be reclaimed from the waste after titrations are conducted.

If reclamation receptacles exist (e.g. for silver chloride or zinc powder) use them.

Recycle waste.

Glass may be recycled.

Wash glass to be recycled and dispose of in the labelled recycling bins.

Neutralise waste.

Acid or alkalis may damage the wastewater system.

Determining how to neutralise the reagent.

Neutralise waste liquids (check with the pH meter) prior to dilution for disposal.

Details of methods of neutralisation are contained in each reagent’s MSDS.

Stabilise waste.

Chemicals can damage the wastewater system. Not all reagents or reagent/sample mixes are supplied on a’ return to the supplier’ basis.

Dispose of liquid chemicals and reagent/sample mixes that cannot be returned to the supplier by adding them to the absorbent and stabilising materials in the stabilising bucket. This can then be disposed of through the solid waste system.

Return Merck cell tests to their collection depot

Safe packaging is required

Use the boxes the cells came in. Use the label Merck provides. The address is:

  • MainFreight Logistics
  • Attn: Merck Pty Ltd GOODS RETURN NUMBER GRN 3150,
  • 500 Princes Highway
  • Noble Park, VIC 3174
  • Declare as non-dangerous and sign the declaration.

    Ship boxes of multiple packs as follows:

    • Ammonia: any number of packs per outer box, can be mixed with other cell kits
    • COD: up to two packs per outer box, only mix with ammonia or phosphate
    • Nitrate and Total N: up to two packs per outer box, only mix with ammonia or phosphate
    • Phosphate: any number of packs per outer box, may be mixed with other cell test kits.

    Sterilise microbiological waste

    How do I handle various media?

    Autoclave broths and agars. Sterilised broths may be poured down the toilet. Place Quantitrays in bright sunlight for a minimum of 3 days prior to disposal via solid waste.

    Dispose of broken glass into recycling bin.

    Laboratory glass may contain chemicals.

    Rinse prior to disposal.

    Dispose of hazardous wastes by packaging into appropriately labelled containers for delivery to the EPA collection point in Magazine Road, Dry Creek..

    Determining whether waste is hazardous.

    Check the label for the hazardous substance rating. The MSDS will contain packaging details. Label the waste with its main components and hazard codes.

    Disposal of non-hazardous waste (untreated environmental samples, for example) shall be via the waste management bins or the wastewater system, as appropriate.

    Even non-hazardous waste may impact on the operation of the wastewater system (e.g. strong brine).

    Only dispose of excess freshwater samples, groundwater samples or washing up water down the sink.

    Clean brine should be disposed of in marine waters or into the saltfield.

    Small quantitites of common salt samples should be returned to the saltfield, or an approriate intertidal area for dissolution.

    Spills in the laboratories    

    When a spill occurs in a laboratory, check to see if any reagent has splashed onto skin or clothing.

    Reagents may not be felt at once.

    Clothing: Remove contaminated clothing for washing. Dispose of leather items (they retain acids and can cause burns even after washing).

    Skin contact: Flush exposed skin with water for 15 minutes. Seek medical attention if symptoms such as burning sensation remain after flushing.

    Eye contact: Flush eyes with water for 15 minutes and seek medical attention. Use the eywash station in the laboratory.

    Clean up spills promptly.

    Handling chemicals that are unconfined.

    Use the Chemical Spill Treatment Kit located in the laboratory to assess the spill, neutralise the spill, and contain the spill. Neutralised reagent wastes may be disposed as solid waste.

    Spills in the field    

    When a spill of fuel or chemicals occurs in the field follow the outline above in regard to operator safety, then contain the spill using absorbent materials. Return any contaminated soil to the office at St Kilda where it may be evaluated for treatment or disposal.

    What do I contain or absorb the spill with?

    The vehicle contains a spill kit for use with oils and fuels. Use soil if no absorbent material is available, and place the soil in a container to bring back to the office at St Kilda.

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