Laboratory safety

Operations in a laboratory are often associated with risks. A modified working method or a new laboratory must always have its risks assessed, and protective measures arranged prior to a potential accident or damage.

It is the responsibility of the administrative head of department to see to it that laws and rules are observed, but everyone who is working as part of the operations must know the latest versions.

A person working in laboratory operations must know and act in accordance with laws and rules. The administrative head of department is responsible for work health and safety, and is responsible for that employees and students have sufficient knowledge.

As an employee in laboratory operations, you must know:

  1. Risks and protection in your work tasks, and which particular elements may entail risks
  2. Other risks that exist at your workplace, and how you can avoid them:
  3. Safety work routines, for example for orderliness and tidiness, decontamination, and instructions for operations
  4. Things to keep in mind before beginning a new work task
  5. Where the personal protection equipment is located, when and how it is to be used, how it is cared for and what limitationons it has
  6. The meaning of various symbols and markings
  7. The existence and storage of required documents, for example risk assessments and safety data sheets
  8. The legislation and rules that apply to management of existing sources of risk
  9. Evacuation plan in accordance with Swedish Work Environment Authority regulations on the design of the workplace and what to do in the event of any alarms
  10. Preparation plans for potential accidents or near-accidents
  11. How to use fire extinguishing equipment, which persons that can carry out first-aid actions and the routines for first-aid actions.

If an accident or damage occurs, you must report this to your manager, and make a report of occupational injury or incident.


Different parts in laboratory operations may require permits, or a notification to a government authority. According to...

... the Swedish Environmental Code, chemical or biological laboratory operations with a premises greater than 5,000 sq m in area and for hospital operations must be declared.
... the Swedish Work Environment Act, permits are required for handling certain hazardous chemicals (Group B) and for handling biological contagions in risk classes 2 (if less than 500 liters only a declaration is needed), 3, and 4.
... the Swedish Radiation Protection Act, permits are required for handling sources of ionising radiation
... the Swedish Act on Inflammable and Explosive Goods, permits are required for storage and handling of flammable goods (SFS 2010:1011, Section 16).

Other permits or declarations may also be of importance, for example according to the Act for the Prevention and Limitation of the Consequences of Serious Chemical Accidents.

Competent Authorities

The authorities also check how the laws are observed through what is known as 'supervision'. If the legislation is not being observed, the competent authorities have the right to reprimand or impose sanctions on operations, for example through injunctions, prohibitions, fines or administrative penalties.

• The Municipal Environmental Offices, The County Administrative Boards, The Swedish Medical Products Agency control the compliance to different aspects of the regulation of the Environmental Code and the REACH EU regulation

• The Swedish Work Environment Authority checks the compliance to The Swedish Work Environment Act, including AFS regulations and certain parts of the CLP EU ordinance

• The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare checks the compliance to its regulations

• The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority checks the compliance to its provisions

• The municipal fire brigades controls the compliance to The Swedish Act on Inflammable and Explosive Goods

Joint workplaces must have a head of coordination

For joint workplaces in which, for example, both the university and the County Council are active, there must be a head of coordination for the physical work environment, fire safety, security and environment. There is an agreement between Umeå University and the Västerbotten County Council that the university is responsible for coordination of physical work health and safety on premises where Akademiska Hus is the property owner, and Västerbotten County Council in premises where they themselves are the property owner.

contact information

Marie Gunnarsson
Environmental coordinator
+46 90 786 64 80

Frida Fjellström