Hazardous Substances (Chemicals and Gases)


All dangerous goods, chemicals or other hazardous materials, or significant changes in laboratory work practices, must to be formally approved by the Head of Department/Laboratory Supervisor. A risk assessment must be conducted and documented.This risk assessment must be available in the Laboratory.

All areas are required to keep and maintain detailed inventories of hazardous materials, including research substances. Dangerous Goods that exceed manifest quantites are notified to COMCARE.

The ANU Chemical Management procedure outlines chemical related process in more detail.

The ANU has also developed a Chemical Management Handbook that provides more indepth information.

It is a requirement that all staff and students who handle hazardous chemicals attend the ANU WHS training course on Chemical Safety and also the Corrosives course.


Chemwatch is an online database of all chemicals used within the University. It is accessible to all personnel and is a way to check what chemicals are in the room. 

All chemicals have a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) (formerly MSDS) and it is essential you consult these prior to the introduction of a new chemical into your working practice to ensure adequate provision is made for its safe use. SDS' to all chemicals used in the room must be accessible quickly and easily, either by computer or by paper copy. Note that paper copies should be reviewed to ensure it is up to date. SDS' expire after five years.

General guidelines for working with hazardous materials

  • Complete an induction into the area with the lab owner / or supervisor so you are aware of the hazards in the area and where you can find necessary items, e.g first aid kit, spill kits etc.
  • Complete the chemical safety training, and any other relevant trainings. The training matrix can be found here.
  • Prepare or consult a risk assessment (Appendix B) prior to beginning the activity involving the hazardous materials.
  • Check the equipment being used is in good condition, e.g no cracks in beakers, and if necessary, that any test and tags are current on the electrical equipment being used.
  • Do not eat or drink in a laboratory.  Food should not be stored in any laboratory and any food present in a laboratory should be deemed contaminated and disposed of immediately.
  • Appropriate clothing and footwear must be worn, e.g enclosed flat shoes and lab coat.
  • Follow the standard operating procedures and always handle hazardous substances with care.

Labels on containers: All chemicals should be stored in a suitable, uniquely identifiable container labeled with the following information: (Reference ANU Chemical Management Handbook)

  • This material belongs to: Your name.
  • Date of preparation:
  • Substance Name: (Full shipping name NOT abbreviations)
  • Chemical composition:
  • Dangerous Goods Class / GHS pictogram information:
  • Special Precaution:

Dangerous goods of different classes should NOT be stored together.  (i.e. keep Flammables and Corrosives separate).

Only minimal quantities of flammable liquids should be kept in laboratories/workshops. No more than six Winchesters of flammable liquids are permitted within a room, unless stored in an approved flammable liquids cabinet. Containers that are larger than 5 litres are not permitted. For rooms smaller than 15m2 the requirements are for less than the above.

Sharps containers and bagged items like contaminated gloves and wipes for incineration can be placed in the yellow hazardous waste bin near Stores. No chemical or radioactive items are to be placed in this bin.

Hazardous Waste Disposal – Additional Guidelines for RSPhys

Each Department or Unit that creates chemical waste should have a designated contact person to organise routine waste disposal, to prepare a manifest of items and to organise a quote with a hazardous waste contractor (such as Toxfree, Sterihealth) ahead of disposal.

Chemical Waste Disposal

Any chemical waste generated in RSPhys must be placed in a appropriate waste container, be labeled correctly, and be disposed of through a certified waste contractor.

The ANU's hazardous waste contractor is ToxFree and they visit the ANU fortnightly. The disposal manifest receipt issued by the contractor should be kept in the Department for 10 years.

No chemicals are to be disposed of down the sink (unless neutralised)

Procedure for the Disposal of Halogenated and Non-Halogenated Solvent Waste

Halogenated and Non-Halogenated Solvent Waste (ie Dangerous Goods Class 3) can be temporarily deposited by the departments designated contact person in the RSPhys Main Flammable Liquids Store.

Please note the following:

  • No decanting of waste material is permitted in this area
  • Only waste containers that are complete for collection by a waste contractor can be deposited here. 
  • RSPE Stores Staff need to be consulted when depositing waste containers in this storage area.

Fume Cupboards

The general use, cleaning and chemical storage is the responsibility of the Department or area that utilises the cupboard. Listed below are some general house keeping rules. Local areas must have risk assessments, and safe operating procedures for all processes being undertaken in the cupboards.

  • Cleanliness is essential for the correct operation of the fume cupboard system, all spills must be cleaned up thoroughly and all chemicals returned to the correct place after use. All equipment used must be cleaned and returned to the same condition is was upon your arrival. Glassware should be cleaned, rinsed and left to dry.
  • The cupboards under a fume cupboard are NOT for long term or bulk storage. Containers of chemicals required on a weekly or daily basis are permissible; less frequently used chemicals should be kept in a bulk storage area.
  • Fume cupboard should only be used for their designed purpose.
  • A log book of fume cupboard use should be maintained by each area.
  • Unidentified substances should be disposed of immediately. This requirement applies to both the fume hood and any associated cupboards. Beakers left unattended within a fume hood MUST be labeled as above.
  • In the case of a single fume hood being used for both acids and solvents it is advisable to have a notice, in plain view, stating which of the two is presently in use. The fume hood should be emptied of all chemical containers and cleaned thoroughly prior to the change from acid to solvent, or vice versa. This is essential given the, usually, explosive reaction between solvents and acids.

Please speak to your supervisor or local technical officer for information on the safe use and local protocols and safety procedures.

The maintenance, testing and repair of the fume cupboard is arranged and funded through School Facilities and Services. Any faults or repairs needed should be logged through the School Services website. For urgent faults please contact the Maintenance team.

The University is required, by the relevant Australian Standard, to have all fume cupboards tested and certified every six months. This certification is obtained via an external contractor. To assist with the timely repair and to minimise down time, ANU Facilities and Services will be performing an inspection just prior to the certification date.

School Facilities and Services will be maintaining records of all repairs and tests for the cupboards, and is developing a database of service and instruction manuals.


Nobody is allowed to handle or use cryogenics until the appropriate induction, training and instruction have been provided by an authorised person. 

Cryogenics include liquid nitrogen and helium refrigerated liquid (Dangerous Goods Class 2 - Non flammable, non toxic)

It is mandatory that all users who use cryogenics undertake the ANU Cryogenics Safety course, and liquid nitrogen course.

A number of Departments in the School use Cryogenic Liquids in experimental programs. These liquids pose a number of potential risks both from cold burns and/or asphyxiation.

Risk warning - There is a major hazard from explosion if cryogenic liquids are heated while under confinement, this can even occur at room temperature. So all decanted liquids held in containers must be breathable/vented to prevent pressure building up.


People must not travel in a lift with cryogenic liquid containers or dewars. Serious risk of cold burns and asphyxiation exists if container insulation is damaged or the lift breaks down. If you need to transport it, leave it in the lift and affix a sign on the lift door so others know hazardous substances are being transported and that they shouldn't get in.

Never leave ‘filling’ Dewar’s, Cylinders or Flasks unattended. If in any doubt, seek advice from other “authorised operators” about decanting.

Please speak to your supervisor or technical officer for information on the safe use and safety procedures.


The Chemical Management Handbook provides information in the use and handling of gases at the ANU.

All new gas installations must have the cylinders located outside the building and the gas piped inside. For flammable and toxic gases, the system must be approved by the ANU WHS Branch.

It's preferable to purchase gas cylinders through an Australian supplier (BOC, Coregas) as cylinders can be returned. Speciality gas purchases from overseas can result in very expensive disposal costs.

The following are general guidelines: -

  • Always securely fasten cylinders. A falling cylinder could break a person's limb or the cylinder valve, liberating the contents. Under such circumstances the cylinder could become a projectile and take off like a rocket.
  • Do not leave cylinders in direct sunlight or hot areas, as the heat could raise the pressure in the cylinder above safe levels
  • All cylinders must be labelled, even if empty
  • All cylinders must be logged into ChemWatch
  • All cylinders should be shut off at the cylinder when not in use. Do not rely on regulators
  • Ensure fittings are clean and serviceable before attaching
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