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Policy Statement

This policy relates to behaviours during occupation of laboratory space in Jenner Wing, St George’s, University of London (from now on referred to as St George’s).  It describes the expected behaviours of researchers whilst in occupation of laboratory space and how laboratory space is to be vacated when researchers either leave St George’s or move to a different laboratory space within St George’s. 

Policy Definitions

The Institutes   Infection and Immunity Research Institute (IIRI)

Molecular and Clinical Science Research Institute (MCSRI)

Institute for Biomedical and Medical Education (IMBE)

Population Health Research Institute (PHRI)

Consumables   Goods that must be replaced regularly because they wear out or are used up

Requirements form   Form used to detail space requirements


1.1 Scope of Policy

This policy applies to everyone involved in laboratory-based research and teaching in Jenner Wing, including Biological Research Facilities (BRF) and Image Resource Facility (IRF), and is relevant to Research Groups in IIRI, MCSRI, IMBE and PHRI.  It is also applicable to Research Operations staff.  It does not include the teaching laboratories in Hunter Wing, which are managed by IMBE. 

1.2  Allocation of space in the first instance 

  1. A research space request form must be completed in advance of occupying laboratory space and sent to the Director of Research Operations.
  2. Laboratory space is allocated by the Research Space Steering Group in accordance with the Research Space Management Policy.
  3. St George’s offers centrally managed communal space suitable for common processes and requirements, e.g., centrifugation and molecular biology space in line with the Research Space Management Policy.
  4. Space in a -80°C freezer or storage in liquid nitrogen is of limited availability in the first instance; possibly a shelf in a freezer or space for a few boxes in an existing liquid nitrogen (LN2) tank.  If and when more storage space is required, it is the responsibility of PIs to arrange for funding to purchase a -80°C freezer or LN2 tank and to liaise with the Head of Laboratory Services.

1.3  Responsibilities 

  1. Research Operations staff will liaise with PIs and researchers to determine laboratory space requirements.  They will work with the Research Space Steering Group to best fulfil these requirements.
  2. Where necessary, Research Operations staff will liaise with PIs working in a laboratory space if that space is subsequently to be shared with an incoming PI.
  3. Researchers must liaise with Senior Technician (Equipment Maintenance) with regards to movement of equipment, and with and Estates and Facilities with regards to movement of office furniture and putting up shelves etc.

1.3.1  Residency and behaviour whilst using the laboratory space

  1. It is the responsibility of PIs or line managers to ensure that all staff inductions are completed and records kept.  A copy evidencing inductions must be made available for inspection.
  2. All risk assessments (including COSHH) for the work being undertaken must be completed by the PI, line manager or designated individual in accordance with St George’s Health and Safety policies and procedures.  Click on links to access the forms: COSHH assessment form  General laboratory risk assessment form.  They must be made available for inspection and must be reviewed every three years or whenever the protocol changes, according to St George’s guidance as given on the relevant forms.
  3. Laboratory local rules must be in place.  They must be written by PIs, line managers or designated individuals.  In shared or multi-user labs, the rules must be agreed and signed by all PIs and line managers who have occupancy within that laboratory.  Everyone working in the laboratory must abide by these rules.  A copy must be available for inspection. 
  4. All laboratory users have obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act etc 1974.  Researchers must take reasonable care of their own health and safety and that of others whilst working in the laboratory.  It should be noted that, with the exception of specialist areas, laboratories may be accessed by other members of staff, such as Security, Cleaning or Estates and Facilities personnel, in addition to contractors visiting St George’s, such as specialist engineers.  They must not be exposed to any laboratory hazards.  Researchers must not intentionally nor carelessly put others at risk, and must follow best practice to ensure the laboratory space is kept in a safe condition at all times.  A laboratory safety manual is available for further information.
  5. Consumables and equipment must be appropriately stored. Significant equipment and consumables owned by a research group must be labelled as such for identification purposes. Permission to use equipment or consumables owned by another research group must be obtained as a matter of safety and courtesy. Owners must inform researchers from other research groups if there are any safety considerations to be made with regards to the use of the equipment or consumables.

All hazardous materials (chemicals, biological materials etc.) must be clearly labelled. They must be stored safely and not left on an open bench or floor where they can present a risk to others. 

Flammables must be locked away in a flammables cabinet in quantities no greater than 20 litres per lab.  Please refer to the Purchase and Storage of ethanol and Industrial Denatured Alcohol for Research: policy, procedure and Guidance document for further details. 

Picric acid, a reagent that can explode, is stored in a secure locked cabinet.  Individuals wishing to use picric acid must contact Yvette Bland or the SHE Office for further details.

  1. Good housekeeping must be followed at all times in laboratories and shared laboratory spaces.  Upon completion of experiments, users must ensure that the work area is free from debris and made safe for the next user.
  2. All waste (clinical, biological material, chemical etc.) must be disposed of according to St George’s policies and procedures and COSHH assessment. Under no circumstances must waste be allowed to accumulate. 
  3. Defective equipment should be reported to the responsible PI or Senior Technician (Equipment Maintenance) so that a repair can be organised (if appropriate) or support given to finding an alternative piece of equipment.  A note to inform that the equipment is defective must be attached to the defective equipment.
  4. Infrastructure defects of the laboratory space, e.g., faulty or failing lights, must be reported by the researcher, or whoever discovered the defect, directly to the Estates and Facilities Help Desk (extension 1234) so that arrangements can be made for repair.  A note to indicate the fault must then be placed nearby, stating that the fault has been reported.   Unaccompanied engineers will only access laboratories in case of emergency.  Otherwise, a laboratory member or Research Operations staff will have to authorise access.

Laboratory coats must be regularly laundered and removed from the laboratory and returned to room 2.115 (Corridor 4, Level 2) for laundering.  Pockets must be emptied. This includes unused and surplus laboratory coats and those no longer required; there must be no accumulation of laboratory coats in laboratory spaces.

1.3.2  Vacating a laboratory space

  1. PIs must ensure that they leave the laboratory space in a safe condition upon vacating, as described in the University Laboratory Decontamination/Decommissioning procedure.  They must take with them all their samples or destroy and dispose of them appropriately.  In addition, they must dispose of all clinical, biological, chemical and electrical waste materials in accordance with the University’s policies and procedures (for further details of disposal please contact, in the first instance, the SHE office ( extension 0637).  PIs must ensure that on leaving the laboratory space, it is either empty of all items or the items have been passed on to new custodians.  A Decontamination certificate can be found on the Laboratory Decontamination/Decommissioning procedure document.  This must be completed by the PI vacating the laboratory space, ready for handover.
  2. Once the laboratory has been safely cleared, and where appropriate decontaminated, it can then be cleaned prior to future occupation.  Research Operations will contact the Estates and Facilities Help Desk (extension 1234) to arrange cleaning.
  3. Shelves and cupboards must be cleared of all consumables and equipment when the laboratory space is being vacated unless some goods are to be retained by prior consent.  If equipment and consumables etc. are to be retained by the PI, they must be clearly marked as such.  Failure to do so will lead to items being disposed of. 
  4. To promote good environmental principles and practices, unwanted consumables and equipment can be repurposed if appropriate.  Please contact the Senior Technician (Equipment Maintenance) for further information.
  5. If fridges and freezers are to remain in the laboratory, or passed on to another researcher, they must be completely cleared and decontaminated by the vacating PIs.  Unwanted materials must be disposed of in an appropriate manner.  Further details as given in the Cold Storage for Research Policy and Guidance documents.
  6. Any samples stored under the University’s Human Tissue Act (HTA) licence must be formally passed on to a new custodian if they are to remain at St George’s and the Human Tissue Act designated individual as well as the appropriate Institute Director notified, otherwise the samples will be destroyed in accordance with HTA guidance.
  7. Genetically Modified Organisms must be destroyed or transferred to a new custodian if they are to remain at St George’s and the Biological Safety Officer for Genetic Modification informed as appropriate.
  8. Where relevant, all data and research material should be transferred to a new custodian or if there is a requirement for it to remain at St George’s, Joint Research and Enterprise Services (JRES) and Library Research Data Management Service should be contacted.
  9. Unwanted or empty industrial gas cylinders must be returned to Site Services.  Likewise, arrangements must be made by the PI to return special gas cylinders to the supplier.
  10. Arrangements for the movement of equipment and consumables must be made by the vacating researchers with Site Services or Research Operations, as necessary.
  11. The vacating PI must ensure that all laboratory coats are removed from the laboratory space and returned to room 2.115 on corridor 4 for laundering.  Pockets must be emptied. This includes unused and surplus laboratory coats and those no longer required. 
  12. Vacating PIs must return all keys to the laboratory to the Institute Manager upon vacation of the laboratory space.

1.4  Moving between laboratory spaces

Staff must ensure that they adhere to University Policies, Procedures and Guidelines when transferring items between laboratory spaces.  Laboratory gloves must not be worn in corridors; samples must be transferred in sealed or lidded containers to prevent spillage and bottles are to be carried either in a Winchester bottle carrier or a suitably sized box or container.  A trolley must be used where necessary.

1.5  Related policies, procedures and other references 

1.6  Contact details 

Director of Research Operations –  Anna Dulic-Sills

Head of Laboratory Services –  Penny Lympany

Head of Laboratory Space and Safety –  Ariel Poliandri

Laboratory Manager – Yvette Bland

Laboratory Manager (Equipment & HTA) Ashraf Sameja

Senior Technician (Equipment Maintenance) – Terry Turner

Estates and facilities Help Desk  (extension 1234)

Site services –  (extension 5255)

SHE Office – 

Joint Research an Enterprise Services (JRES) –

Library Research Data Management Service –

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