The HSE-gateway
work in laboratory

Work in the laboratory

Information about precautions and safety measures, work instructions and rules and routines for working in a laboratory.

Main content

Work with dangerous chemicals must be carried out in fume hoods. UiB practices zero emissions into the sewers. No dangerous chemicals or environmentally harmful substances should be flushed down the sink.

Work instructions

Written work instructions 

General requirements

If the performance of work can entail a particular risk of harm to life or health, the employer shall prepare written work instructions to ensure that the work can be carried out in a completely safe manner, and that the performance of work or use of work equipment is limited to persons who have received necessary training. Persons who are to carry out repairs, conversion or maintenance are specially designated to carry out such work.

Written work instructions shall always exist in accordance with the Regulations concerning the Performance of Work, in connection with work with asbestos, installation and use of scaffolding, and manual high-pressure jetting with pressures exceeding 250 bar.

Working alone in hazardous working environment

The work must be safe from a security perspective

At UiB, all work must be safe in terms of safety. A risk assessment can reveal that this is not always the case when working alone in a risky working environment. If an accident were to occur, it may be critical to be alone at the work place. In such a working environment, one should therefore seek to avoid work being carried out when others are not present, eg. after the working hours end and at weekends, cf. the Working Environment Act's provision on single work.

What about students?

The Working Environment Act consider students as employees when they perform work at UiB that has the purpose of teaching or research. This means that when students carry out work on laboratories, field work or expeditions, they are regarded as employees and are included in the provisions of the Working Environment Act about working alone.

Even if students are otherwise not covered by the Working Environment Act, it should be avoided that students perform work alone on evenings and weekends in a risky working environment. If students must work outside working hours, at least 2 students should work together and an agreement must be made with the supervisor in advance.

When the situation is such that work alone is inevitable, it is important that a risk assessment is carried out in advance of the work. Here one must assess the nature of the work and what external factors are involved; for example, whether the work involves chemicals, instruments, biological factors, gases etc.

Working with hazardous chemicals

Fume hoods

Working with hazardous chemicals must be carried out in fume hoods to eliminate inhalation of hazardous and irritating vapors and dust.In order for the users of the fume hood to be confident that the cabinet removes contaminants in a good and efficient manner, the cabinet must have an annual check of the air velocity. Most preferably, the fume hood should have an alarm that alerts if the airspeed is too low.

Under-ventilated benches

Work on hazardous chemicals on under-ventilated benches with deck cabinets is not recommended. The air velocity in the hatch opening in the deck cabinets does not meet the requirements for working with hazardous chemicals.

If under-ventilated benches with deck cabinets are to be used for work with chemicals, the work must be risk-assessed, and it must be ensured that limit values for work with chemicals set in the Regulations concerning Action and Limit values are not exceeded.

Precautions and safety measures (gloves, respiratory and hearing protection)

Persons responsible for employees and students must ensure that all activities/work tasks are assessed so that the necessary measures can be initiated to reduce risk. It may be possible to reduce risk by replacing materials, chemicals, equipment or methods with something that is less hazardous. In this way, the work/activity can be carried out at reduced risk, ideally without the need to use personal protective equipment.

Risk asses your work 

If you have to carry out a risk assessment relating to HSE for your local working environment or work tasks, an HSE risk assessment may be the correct tool to use


Examples of organisational measures are: 

Thoughtful placement of machines / facilities, correct choice of equipment and materials, safety training and work instructions, good ergonomic adaptation, requirements for competence, limitation on access to hazardous work.

Examples of technical protective measures are:

Noise screening, fume cupboards, safety cabinets, extraction by hood, emergency showers and eye baths.

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

PPE is all equipment, including accessories, used by employees when performing work to protect against risks and hazards that may be a threat to health and safety.Examples of PPE are:

The use of PPE should be based on a risk assessment.Where work involves particular danger to life and health, the employer must draw up work instructions that include an assessment of any required use of PPE. PPE must be used when it is not possible to achieve a satisfactory level of protection of employees’ health, safety and welfare by changes to work methods and/or processes, or by technical installations designed to achieve a fully secure working environment.More information on the use of PPE in the workplace can be found on the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority website (NO).

The University has a framework agreement covering the purchase and procurement of personal protective equipment. See the Purchasing Gateway.

Safety and general lab rules

Allways read the safety data sheet before start working with chemicals or biological factors.

Safety rules

  • It is prohibited to bring or consume food or drink of any kind in the laboratory. Freezers and refrigerators in the laboratories must not be used for the storage of food items. The same applies to the use of laboratory equipment – for example, beakers – for food and drink, even if the equipment is new and has not been used for chemicals.
  • Generally speaking, protective goggles must be worn at all times. The wearing of contact lenses should be avoided where possible.
  • New cotton laboratory coats. Synthetic fibre materials can produce sparks from static electricity and, in the case of undesirable events, can lead to unpleasant burns as synthetic fibres melt.
  • Wear shoes that are “sealed” over the toes to avoid injuries in the event of a spillage of chemicals.
  • Protective gloves must be worn when using corrosive, toxic, irritating or allergenic compounds, as well as for chemicals that are hazardous on contact with skin.
  • Laboratories must always be kept clean and tidy.
  • Never taste chemicals or solutions even if you think you are sure that they are harmless.
  • Never use your mouth for pipetting. Use a rubber balloon, burette, pipette pump, electric pipetting device or other equipment.
  • Spillages on workbenches and floors must be wiped up immediately, irrespective of whether they are from chemicals or water.
  • Wash hands thoroughly after contact with chemicals. Use soap and water, not organic solvents.
  • Working with certain kinds of chemicals requires exposure registration (see link to the chemical inventory on the HSE-gateway).
  • There should never be any unlabelled chemicals in the laboratory.The original packaging must always be marked in accordance with the Labelling Regulations (labels can be printed out from the Chemical Inventory).

General rules

  • Do not return chemicals to their original packaging. An incompatible mixture may accidentally be formed.
  • Keep chemical containers closed. Dust and vapour may escape from an open container, while gases and suspended material may penetrate this, causing the nature of the chemical to change. This will also avoid unnecessary exposure.
  • Never use a wrong or an unmarked reagent. If you are unsure about the compound, do not use it. Instead, have it disposed of (see Disposal of Hazardous Waste).
  • Never put spatulas, stirrers or other objects into a storage container for chemicals. Remove the contents by pouring and rolling the contents of the glass into a beaker, glass container or other suitable equipment. Spatulas may be used with caution in laboratory reagent containers. Remember the labelling.
  • Once removed from the bottle or glass, cork stoppers must be placed on a clean surface (e.g. a watch glass or other suitable equipment) with the opening facing down. This is to avoid contamination of the compound and unnecessary exposure.
  • Chemical bottles must not be carried by the neck of the bottle, nor next to your body. Suitable carrying arrangements should be employed, e.g. buckets or trolleys.
  • When pouring from bottles, the label should always face upward to prevent any spillage from destroying the label.
  • Never put any chemicals in the bottle other than the one indicated on the label.
  • Special precautions should be taken when handling concentrated acids. Dilution of acids should be performed by pouring the acid into water and stirring continuously.