Occupational Health and Safety in the School of Molecular
and Microbial Biosciences
The Occupational Health and Safety Legislation has been in place since 1983. It has been
reviewed and updated and has a strong emphasis on the risk based approach [OHS Act
2000 and OHS Reg 2001]. The University of Sydney has issued the following policy
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY POLICY STATEMENT
The University is committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace and to eliminating conditions and
incidents that could result in personal injury or ill health. The University requires its activities to conform
with relevant state and federal legislation and good, established practices including Australian Standards.
The University will provide staff and students with guidance on and training in the identification,
assessment and control of hazards in the workplace.
Effective management of OHS risks depends on the commitment and cooperation of staff and students. The
University is committed to consulting with staff in a meaningful and effective manner on OHS issues,
enabling each member of staff to contribute to decisions that may affect their health, safety and welfare at
The University expects staff and students to comply with its occupational health and safety policies,
procedures and guidelines, and to conduct themselves in a safe manner, not placing themselves or others at
risk. Members of staff are responsible for the health and safety of staff and students working under their
direction. The University is also responsible for providing a safe and healthy environment for its visitors
and members of the public who come onto University premises or are affected by the University's
activities. Contractors working on University premises are also required to conduct their activities in a
manner that ensures the safety, health and welfare of others.
As a teaching institution, with responsibilities to the wider community, the University is committed to
providing its students with appropriate occupational health and safety instruction, practical work and role
The University’s hierarchy of implementing the Act is:
Heads of School
What this means is that the Vice-Chancellor issued the Policy Statement and instructed
Senior Management to act on it. Senior Management then delegated responsibility to the
Deans who immediately passed it on to the Heads of School. However, there are two
areas of responsibility: the University as a whole and each individual School or building.
Both areas of responsibility come under the auspices of the University Occupational
Health and Safety Committee as all companies are required by law to establish such
committees. Due to the size of the University, one Committee could not effectively
perform its task so the University has been divided into zones. The composition of these
zone committees comprises persons nominated by the University and an equal number
elected by the staff in the particular zone. We are located in Zone 4 which is essentially
Science (MMB, Carslaw, Chemistry, Physics, Madsen, Geology and Pharmacy). [Further
information about the Zones: http://www.usyd.edu.au/ohs/committees/zone_com.shtml}
The first area of responsibility, that of the University, concerns the general affairs of the
grounds such as ensuring that there is adequate lighting of the campus at night, access for
disabled people, that walkways and paths are kept in good repair and in maintaining
roadways and trees – in other words attending to good housekeeping within the
University precinct. If a serious incident occurs on campus and it can be shown that the
cause was due to a problem that was known to be present but which had not been
addressed, then fines can be applied.
The second area deals with the School. We have a Safety Committee and we also have a
Head of School
Safety Committee Members
What this means is that any occupant (all staff, honours and postgraduate students) must
be alert to any dangerous or potentially dangerous situation which may or could cause
harm or injury to themselves or someone else. If a situation is detected then do something
about it or report it to one of the members of the Safety Committee. These members will
assess the situation and report it to the Chair of the Safety Committee if it cannot be
adequately settled. [Further information about consultation and a more detailed
Members of the current Safety Committee have certain responsibilities:
Human Nutrition Kim Bell-Anderson
Microbiology Tom Ferenci
Teaching (levels 3 and 4) Jenny Phuyal
Administration Zia Ahmad
Cleaners/technical Ross Taylor
Equipment Bill Bubb
Academics Alan Jones
Not that this is a rigid scheme. Obviously in an emergency contact anyone on the
Committee. Academics and research personnel, by the way, are responsible for all staff
working in their laboratories. As the members of the Committee may be changed from
time to time, an list of the current members is displayed in the level 4 noticeboard
adjacent to the Administration area.
Safety is not confined to accidents. Repetitive strain injuries, computer screens badly
positioned and ill-adjusted chairs are all health hazards and should be reported. So too
should all harmful incidents occurring not only during working hours (both within the
School and on campus) but also during travel to and from the University and during
travel on University or School business. Incidents, no matter how trivial, should be
reported by completing an incident form (located in a box on the door to 404) and giving
it to Alan Jones as soon as possible. We are all covered by Workers Compensation and
minor incidents must be reported within 3 days of them happening. If there has been an
injury or a serious near miss, the incident must be reported to OHSIM within 24 hours. If
this is not possible a verbal report should be phoned through immediately.
Members of the Zone 4 Occupational Health and Safety Committee make regular
inspections of all buildings in the Zone. So it is up to us to keep our house in order rather
than to receive a report from the Committee informing us of our deficiencies.
There are several ways in which all occupants can be involved in safety procedures.
Apart from reporting potential hazards, it is everyone’s responsibility to use common
sense when in the School.
If you do not know how to operate anything (an instrument, machine or other
piece of equipment) then ask someone who does know.
Move gas cylinders only when they are strapped onto the cylinder trolleys.
When transporting liquid nitrogen or other gases between floors use the stairs or
else place the container in the right hand lift, connect the yellow chain across the
doors and send the lift to its destination. You take the stairs or the left hand lift.
Needless to say no one should enter the right hand lift if the chain is in position.
Use Winchester carriers to transport solvents; do not carry Winchesters by their
Non-qualified persons must not operate or handle workshop equipment at any
Faulty equipment of any type must be reported to the Workshop personnel.
Food and drink must not be consumed in any laboratory.
Broken glass must not be placed in wastepaper bins – broken and unbroken
glassware (bottles, jars) should be placed in the bins located to the south of the
loading bay. Pasteur pipettes and small pieces of glassware must be placed in the
yellow sharps containers.
Closed footwear must be worn in all laboratories.
Whatever the task, wear the appropriate safety clothing.
Ensure that external doors are locked after 1700 hours on work days and all the
time at the weekend and on holidays.
Make sure you are aware of the hazards associated with any chemical or solvent
that you are about to use.