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Alerts: UCL Safety Services

Safety Services issues a monthly news letter via e-mail to all Departmental Safety Officers (DSOs) and Deputies. The news letter  includes safety alerts which relate to incidents at UCL or beyond which may require Departments to take action. If you're not a DSO or Deputy and would like to be included on the mailing list please e-mail: safety@ucl.ac.uk

The following table is a summary of safety alerts issued in 2019. If you require further information e-mail: safety@ucl.ac.uk

MONTHTITLEHAZARD / TOPICBRIEF DESCRIPTION / ACTION TO TAKE
January 2020Best PracticeManagement Arrangements of Practical Work

As part of UCL's positive Health and Safety culture, when best practice is established in a department, this will be communicated to the UCL as a whole so that the organization can learn and improve together.

The Department of Chemistry has made a number of significant changes to their management arrangements of laboratory experiments which are considered by Safety Services as best practice and should be reviewed by other departments with the intent to either implement them or something similar that will have the same effect.

Please download the document at the following link: Best Practice for Management Arrangements of Practical Work at UCL

The Department of Chemistry (Chemistry) working closely with their faculty lead (MAPS) established this best practice after reviewing Incidents that have occurred over several years and good practice in other Chemistry departments.

July 2019Road SafetyRoad SafetyFollowing a number of serious accidents on Tottenham Court Road, students and staff are reminded to be extra careful when crossing roads around the Bloomsbury campus, as some traffic flows have changed.  UCL Estates have published more information on the changes on the West End Project page.

Pedestrians crossing all roads around UCL buildings should remember to use designated pedestrian crossings, always look both ways and take extra care.

If your department will be hosting summer schools or other groups over the summer, please ensure you issue a reminder on road safety to any groups moving between buildings. Information on road safety is particularly important for individuals from outside the UK who may not be used to traffic flows in London.
June 2019Welding Fumes & Emissions from 3D PrintersCarcinogen

See the following document for further information and the action to be taken:

May 2019 No AlertN/AN/A
April 2019 MRI Scanner ChecksMRI scanners

Over recent months, a series of related near misses were recorded at a research centre with several MRI scanners. They all involved research subjects entering scanners with objects that were not picked up during routine checks. The centre investigated each incident and have introduced a checklist as a final screen before participants enter scanners.

The final check compliments an established initial checklist and has now been made available for other departments with MRI scanners to use. Please download the document at the following link:

Departments must ensure that:

  • they consider current arrangements for screening research subjects and patients entering MRI scanners and use the final checklist developed where appropriate.
March 2019 Accessing Emergency EquipmentPoor housekeeping

During recent inspections at several UCL buildings, Safety Services found that some emergency showers and eye wash stations were blocked or becoming hard to reach. Poor housekeeping or changes in room layout mean that emergency equipment can become harder to reach or forgotten about.

Departments must ensure that:

  • regular workplace inspections are carried out to ensure good housekeeping standards are maintained,
  • emergency equipment can be reached easily
  • clear signs are in place so staff and students can get help quickly.
February 2019No alertN/AN/A
January 2019 Accurate Labelling 

Containers were found in a shared incubator labelled with a name indicating the contents were hazardous. A technician was concerned for their personal safety and sought medical advice.The name on the label in fact referred to a ‘knock-out’ gene, which was not hazardous to health. The anxiety experienced by the technician therefore could have been avoided.   

Departments must ensure that:

  • clearly label all containers, equipment and rooms that may contain hazardous substances in a consistent and unambiguous way to ensure staff and students are correctly informed before entering an area  
  • avoid using acronyms, abbreviations or terms that may not be commonly understood outside of your group or immediate team