Contact Us

The RiskAssess team welcomes your feedback and contributions.

If you have a question, before contacting us, please search the frequently asked questions below, as you are likely to find an instant answer:

Computer Problems

How do I get RiskAssess to remember email addresses for sending risk assessments?

Your web browser will generally remember email addresses used in the past so that it is easy to choose them again after entering the first few characters.

If you are using Internet Explorer 11, these instructions (Fill out forms with AutoComplete) are generally good to make it work again as it can sometimes be disabled.

Alternatively, we recommend using Google Chrome web browser - it is free, fast, has a built in PDF reader, and will definitely have working memory for email addresses used in the past:
Download Chrome Browser

My browser does not remember my user name and password for RiskAssess. How can I fix this?

    For Internet Explorer
  1. Choose 'Options' from the 'Tools' menu
  2. Click on the 'Content' tab
  3. Click on the 'Tools' button in the 'AutoComplete' section
  4. Tick 'User names and passwords on forms' and 'Prompt me to save passwords'
  5. Click 'OK', and then 'OK'.
  6. Go back to https://www.riskassess.com.au
  7. Enter your user name and password, and click 'Log in'
  8. You will be shown a dialog box asking if you want Internet Explorer to remember the password. Say 'Yes'.
  9. Next time you go to the RiskAssess site, and you start to type in your user name, you will be able to choose it from a list and your password will be filled in automatically.

When I click the print button, sometimes the risk assessment font is too big. How can I print out on less pages?

For optimum font size and minimum number of pages, we recommend you use the 'Save / Print PDF' button, and print from the PDF. This is automatically set up to use a small font.

However, if you want to print directly from the browser, and the font is too big, rather than pressing the print button, choose 'Print Preview' from the 'File' menu and you will see at the top there is a box saying 'Fit to page'. Click it and there will be a list of percent sizes. Choose a smaller one and your printing will be much more efficient. It is unfortunately a problem with Internet Explorer printing that it sometimes automatically chooses a very big size.

I only see a blank / empty box in the middle of the screen after I electronically sign a document. How can I fix this?

RiskAssess displays electronic documents in the standard PDF format. If your browser does not have a PDF reader installed, you will not be able to view the electronic document. We recommend you install Adobe Acrobat Reader (free). Alternatively, we recommend using Google Chrome web browser - it is free, fast, and has a built in PDF reader:
Download Chrome Browser

I sent an email from RiskAssess but it didn't arrive. Why?

The most common reason for emails not arriving is spam filters on school email accounts. First of all, check in your 'Spam' or 'Junk' folder to see if the risk assessment has ended up there. If it is not there, it is worth contacting your IT department to ask if there is any school level spam filtering, and ask to have it disabled for emails from riskassess.com.au. You can also try emailing risk assessments to another address (eg, gmail, hotmail).

I can't log in. When I enter my user name and password, the page flickers and my details are gone. What should I do?

This can occur if you are using Internet Explorer 7 or below and is caused by the cookies stored in the browser becoming corrupted. To fix it:

  • From the Tools menu in the upper right, select Delete Browsing History.
  • Click Delete All.
  • Close and open your browser.
  • Go back to https://www.riskassess.com.au and log in.

I keep getting duplicate risk assessments in scheduling. Why? What can I do?

We have found two main reasons why this happens.

First reason is from a misunderstanding of the 'Create Modifiable Copy' vs 'Author's Update' buttons. 'Create Modifiable Copy' makes a brand new risk assessment with details copied across. 'Author's Update' is for updating an existing risk assessment to make corrections. If somebody uses 'Create Modifiable Copy' when they should be using 'Author's Update', many duplicates can be created.

The second cause is if somebody uses the browser Back button after creating a new risk assessment (either blank or modifiable copy), then amends it and clicks 'Generate Risk Assessment >'. As the person has gone back to a new/copy page, and then submitted the form, this does what it did the first time, and creates another new risk assessment.

If you have lots of duplicates, we recommend you discuss these two possibilities with the people who use RiskAssess at your school.

Subscriptions

How do I subscribe to RiskAssess?

Click the following link:

Subscribe to RiskAssess for staff

You will be taken to a page where you can enter your school details, contact person and contact email. When you click ok, the automated system of RiskAssess will email to the contact person a thank you email with your tax invoice. Please print the tax invoice and pass it on to your accounts people. When we receive payment, we will activate your account. If you are in a hurry to get started, please email a copy of your school purchase order so that we know for sure that payment is on the way, and we will pre-activate your account while we await payment.

If you wish to subscribe to Student RiskAssess, the procedure is the same, except click this link:

Subscribe to Student RiskAssess

How do I get company/payment/ABN details for a purchase order?

Simply fill in your details on the subscription page for RiskAssess for staff or Student RiskAssess. You will be immediately emailed an invoice with all the details you need for a purchase order.

How can I download an invoice to renew my subscripton?

RiskAssess will automatically send the contact person for your school an invoice 2 months and 1 month before your subscription expires. If you would like to download an invoice at any other time, click the 'Tools' link on the top right of your home page (next to a cog icon). Then click 'Download Renewal Invoice' link. Similarly you will receive reminder emails for Student RiskAssess. The ‘Tools' link in Student RiskAssess will only be displayed if you have linked your Student RiskAssess subscription to your staff RiskAssess subscription. Otherwise you can email us at .

How can I update the contact person for my school?

You can update name, phone number and email address for the RiskAssess contact person for your school. Click the 'Tools' link on the top right of your home page (next to a cog icon). Then click 'Update Contact Details' link.

The 'Tools' link is also available for Student RiskAssess, if you have linked your Student RiskAssess subscription to your staff RiskAssess subscription. If you have not yet linked your staff and student subscriptions, please see Student PINs and Student RiskAssess for assessment purposes or refer to the User Guide for Student RiskAssess.

How many people from my school can use RiskAssess at once?

The RiskAssess user name and password is for your whole school campus, and allows any number of staff from your school campus to use RiskAssess at the same time. Similarly, the Student RiskAssess user name and password allows any number of students from your school campus to use Student RiskAssess at the same time. You can have both programs open at the same time on the same computer (see details above).

My school has several campuses. How many subscriptions do I need?

Each user name and subscription is for a single campus (with an unlimited number of users at that campus). If your school has multiple campuses, each campus will need its own subscription.

Do I need to pay online for RiskAssess?

You do not need to pay online for RiskAssess. When you subscribe, you will be issued with a tax invoice, and you can choose to pay by cheque or bank transfer. We do not currently accept credit cards. Learn more about subscribing.

How do I get your address for a purchase order?

The best thing to do is to fill out the subscription form and you'll then be emailed an invoice with all the details for the purchase order.

Can I pay by credit card?

No. Sorry! At this stage, payment by credit card is not available. The fastest payment method is electronic transfer of funds (eft) to our account. If your school can email a scanned copy of the completed purchase order (so that we know payment is on the way), we can provide a pre-activation or manual extension of your school's account, so that RiskAssess can be used normally for a few days until payment is received.

How do user names work for RiskAssess?

When you sign up, you get to choose a user name for logging in for your school campus. For example, if your school was called 'Ecosolve High School', you could choose a user name like 'ecs'. Once the sign up and the payment process is completed, anyone from your school campus can then log in using that user name. If you also subscribe to Student RiskAssess, you should choose a different user name and password to those used for RiskAssess, so that the students do not have access to the staff version.

Computer and Software Requirements

Does RiskAssess work on Windows / Mac / Linux?

RiskAssess works well on all modern operating systems including Windows, Mac and Linux.

Do I need to install any software on my computer to use RiskAssess?

All that is required to use RiskAssess is an internet connection and a standard web browser such as Chrome, Internet Explorer, Edge, Safari or Firefox. If you are using Internet Explorer, you'll also need a standard PDF reader such as Adobe Acrobat (all other browsers have a PDF reader built in). RiskAssess runs from the website so you do not need to install any RiskAssess software. This also means that all database updates and program updates are instantly available to everyone.

Does RiskAssess work on smart phones, iPhones, iPads, etc?

Yes, RiskAssess has been optimised to work well on mobile devices.

Using RiskAssess

Why use RiskAssess?

The most compelling reason for using RiskAssess is that, according to the Work Health Safety Act in Australia, science departments are required to carry out risk assessments of their science experiments before performing them. According to the Act, risk assessments must be carried out "taking into account and weighing up all relevant matters". In the case of science experiments, this would include the facilities available, the behaviour of the class, students with special needs, students with allergies, etc. These factors may, and commonly do, vary from class to class. The only way to meet the legal requirement fully is to carry out a separate risk assessment for each class for each experiment. This would seem like a huge job if you did it on paper, but doing it electronically with RiskAssess is actually quite easy. RiskAssess also offers advantages in terms of improved communication between Teachers and Laboratory Technicians and also includes a scheduling system, which is especially favoured by Laboratory Technicians. In New Zealand and in the different Provinces of Canada, legislation exists which imposes the same requirement, either stated explicitly or implied. It is also logical to think about what might go wrong before you do something, and to introduce systems that make laboratories safer.

If you would like more information, please visit our Learning Resources. You can see a summary of the legal requirements and you can download the chapter on Risk assessment and control of risks for a detailed explanation of the risk assessment process.

Why archive my risk assessments rather than leaving them in editable format?

If you archive your risk assessments by inserting the correct number of electronic signatures (usually the Teacher and the Laboratory Technician; for high risk experiments, an authorized person as well), the risk assessment is stored in immutable form as a pdf file. This can then be used, if needed, as a legal record in case of litigation in the future. Since a risk assessment in editable form can always be changed, it has little value as a legal record.

The icon for a risk assessment changes from a "pen on paper" to a "filing cabinet" when an editable file becomes an archival file. Archival files can be used, just like editable ones, for the creation of modifiable copies.

What is the difference between the "Author's Update" and "Create Modifiable Copy" buttons?

If you wrote the risk assessment, and you notice a problem with it (eg, a missing chemical), you should use "Author's Update". This allows you to modify the existing risk assessment.

If you see a risk assessment that is similar to what you want (eg, written by another member of staff), then you should use "Create Modifiable Copy". This will give you a completely separate copy of the risk assessment which you can then modify to suit your experiment. The original risk assessment that you copied will not be affected in any way.

How do I attach documents to risk assessments?

You cannot yet attach documents to risk assessments in RiskAssess. However, you can hot-link documents to risk assessments in the procedure/reference section. This allows users to achieve almost the same outcome. You can hot-link either web pages or files on the internet or your intranet (eg, PDFs, Word documents etc). Consult with your school IT staff to find out how you should reference a document on your school intranet. You can alternatively use a cloud service like Dropbox which is free up to 2gig of data, and can be linked to directly from the procedure/reference section (see more info on public links in Dropbox). Google docs are also a good option.

If, in the procedure section, you enter the address of a document either on your school server or on the web, RiskAssess recognises it and converts it to a hot-link. You can then click on the hot-link and jump directly to the document. Please see the RiskAssess user guide for full details.

A good method is to convert files to pdf format, if they are not already in that format, and place them in a special folder on the school intranet server / cloud service. Then, everyone can link to them in their risk assessments, as they wish. Alternatively, you can link directly to a Google doc.

In the future, we may allow files of all sorts to be attached to risk assessments. The problem to date has been the amount of storage space required and our need to preserve files indefinitely. With the decreasing cost of storage space in the cloud, we may be able to offer direct attachment for files up to a certain maximum size. In the meantime, hot-linking of files has been working well for many schools.

How do I find my risk assessment with only one login for all school staff?

You might wonder how you can find your own risk assessments amongst all the others, but there is no problem. You can use search terms like name, date, Teacher, chemical, etc to find what you want, similar to a Google search (see the right side of the home page when you log in).

Do I need to carry out a risk assessment for low risk experiments?

Yes. Until you carry out a risk assessment, you do not know whether the experiment is low risk! Even a low-risk experiment might result in an injury. Also, you might make an error and assign an experiment as low risk, even if it is not. An experiment that was considered to be of low risk might still cause an injury. If so, you are not at fault for having made a mistake and considering it low risk. From a legal point of view, you need only demonstrate that you carried out a risk assessment to the best of your knowledge and ability. If this were ever not good enough, you could argue that you should have been better trained by your employer.

Why don't Review Notes carry forward when you make a Modifiable Copy?

The Review Notes are deliberately designed to not carry forward. The idea is that they should only exist for one review cycle and their content/recommendations should be incorporated into the new risk assessment. This is the principle, required by law, for the review process.

When you open an old risk assessment, you should look at the review notes (maybe save to the clipboard any lengthy information), create a modifiable copy, and update the copy with the information from the review notes. The review notes will always stay with the old risk assessment, so you can refer again to them, if you need to.

If you wish to have information saved as part of the risk assessment, it should be placed in the "Procedure" or "Control measures" sections or - if it is a large document, diagram, SOP etc - hot linked in the procedure section.

Do I need to back up my risk assessments?

You should save a copy of all your risk assessments. All risk assessments, whether editable or archival, are currently stored on the RiskAssess system. We do not guarantee to store your risk assessments, but we have an elaborate system of backups and nothing has been lost since we started in 2008. We recommend that schools back up all risk assessments on their own system - check with your IT people for details for your school. As you do your risk assessments, it is easy to download a copy as a pdf file and store it in a folder on your computer. At the end of each term, session or year, you can send these files to your school IT people for archiving as part of the school's long-term records.

What is the difference between editable vs archival files?

If you archive your risk assessments by inserting the correct number of electronic signatures (usually the Teacher and the Laboratory Technician; for high risk experiments, an authorized person as well), the risk assessment is stored in immutable form as a pdf file. This can then be used, if needed, as a legal record in case of litigation in the future. Since a risk assessment in editable form can always be changed, it has little value as a legal record.

The icon for a risk assessment changes from a "pen on paper" to a "filing cabinet" when an editable file becomes an archival file. Archival files can be used, just like editable ones, for the creation of modifiable copies.

When should I use multiple scheduling?

Do NOT use multiple scheduling for the same experiment performed by different classes. The reason is that you are required by law to take "all relevant matters" into account when doing a risk assessment. This includes the facilities available (eg. fume cupboard), the behaviour of the class, students with special needs, students with allergies, etc. These can and often do vary from class to class. A separate risk assessment should be completed for every experiment carried out with every class. This is very easy to do, using the "Create Modifiable Copy" command. Most of the work is already done for you and you can focus on what is different between this class/location and others. If students are too rowdy, for example, you might want to eliminate chemicals with dangerous properties or sharp items of equipment; on the other hand, a small trustworthy group of students might be able to safely use such chemicals and equipment, with significant improvement in the learning experience.

You should use the multiple scheduling times for experiments that spread over 2 or more weeks. This is not common, but can happen for experiments involving setup one week and experimentation the next, for experiments requiring later/repeated observation, or for very long experiments with many parts. An example of correct use of multiple scheduling would be for observation of plant growth (e.g. germinating seeds) over a number of weeks.

How long must risk assessments be stored / how long do I need to keep risk assessments?

The Statute of Limitations is 7 years. However, courts routinely waive the Statute in the case of chemically-induced cancers and other injuries of which the person could not have been reasonably aware within the 7 year period. A 7-year period usually applies from the time of diagnosis. Common examples of waived Statute are the asbestos-induced cancers that might appear 20-50 years after exposure. For example, a former Governor-General in Australia, who died of mesothelioma after working many years in submarines, received compensation.

Some chemicals used, or formerly used, in schools, (e.g. benzene, formaldehyde) are now considered to be far more carcinogenic than previously believed. Some living things and equipment items used in experiments might also cause injuries after many years. History shows that it is advisable to be conservative in such matters.

We recommend that schools maintain records of risk assessments for the lifetime of the individuals concerned. Current students might live ~100 years, if life-expectancy increases, so this is the approximate time period to be considered. Storing paper records for 100 years is possible, but very difficult and expensive. Storing records electronically is easily possible, provided care is taken to back-up and move on to new data/software systems.

RiskAssess currently stores your risk assessments. Nothing has been lost since 2008 when we started and we have no plans to delete old risk assessments. If you cannot find your old risk assessments, make sure you choose 'Any date' in the Date part of the search form (the default search is 'In the last 18 months').

We do not guarantee to store your risk assessments, but we have in place an elaborate system of backups (see RiskAssess user guide for details). We recommend that each school makes its own backup of risk assessments using its own methods - see your IT people for details.

How do I copy risk assessments from one school to another school?

For reasons of confidentiality, RiskAssess does not allow the sharing of risk assessments from one school to another. The information entered by a person into a risk assessment is usually copyright to the school at which the person works.

Risk assessments can be emailed as pdf files from one school to another, provided permission has been obtained to do so. The person emailing the risk assessments takes responsibility for the action and would need to follow school policy. The copying situation arises when a person moves from one school to another and wishes to take risk assessments with him/her. It may also arise if a person has a particular experiment that he/she wishes to share with another person.

It only takes a few minutes to copy/paste information from a pdf file into a blank risk assessment, if both the pdf page and web page are kept open and next to each other. Once a risk assessment has been entered for the first time into a school's RiskAssess system, it is very easy for others to make modifiable copies as the starting point for their own risk assessments. We plan to develop a library of common experiments which could be accessed by everyone, but that is a big job and quite a way into the future.

Why do I need to do a risk assessment of each class at each location?

It would be faster just to carry out a single risk assessment for each experiment and share it between many Teachers with many classes. The problem with just one risk assessment is that it does not satisfy legal (or logical) requirements.

According to the Work Health Safety Act in Australia, "all relevant matters" need to be taken into account in assessing risks. These include the facilities available (e.g. fume cupboard), the behaviour of the class, students with allergies, students with special needs, etc. These factors may, and commonly do, vary from class to class. Each class/location needs to be treated as a separate event. In Australian States (VIC and WA) where the WHS Act has not yet been enacted, earlier existing legislation imposes the same requirement. In New Zealand and different Provinces of Canada, legislation exists with the same requirement or implication.

Luckily, it is not difficult with RiskAssess to fully meet legal requirements, due to the ease of making modifiable copies. However, the important part is to consider any special factors for each class. A modifiable copy is just a starting point; it should be customised as appropriate for each class.

You should use the multiple date/time box only for the same experiment conducted over a number of weeks, with the same physical location, facilities and students, e.g. observing seeds grow over several weeks. Do NOT use multiple scheduling for the same experiment with different classes and locations.

Can I download risk assessments from previous years?

At the moment, you need to save each risk assessment separately to your computer. We are planning to set up a system in the future by which you can download, say, a year of risk assessments in one go for your school archiving purposes. With the present system, we can't allow people to download large numbers of risk assessments at once since this would tie up our server and slow down the operation of RiskAssess for all other users. The solution, as we currently see it, will be to create compressed files of blocks of risk assessments for each school (during times of low server use) and provide a security code to each school to permit download.

What is the validity period and expiry date for a risk assessment?

A risk assessment is valid until something changes; and it must be reviewed at regular intervals. We have put an arbitrary validity period of 15 months on each risk assessment (after which it expires), so that it can be valid during a school year plus a few months more to account for different timing of experiments next year. However, you should create a new risk assessment for each experiment for each class/location. This might sound like a huge amount of work, but it is actually fast and easy using the Create Modifiable Copy button in RiskAssess.

A separate risk assessment is required by law. According to the Work Health Safety Act, "all relevant matters" must be taken into account in assessing risks. These include the facilities available (e.g. fume cupboard), the behaviour of the class, students with allergies, students with special needs, etc. These factors may, and commonly do, vary from class to class. Each class/location needs to be treated as a separate event. Alternatively, a new class with different location, behaviour, facilities, etc can be regarded as something changed - this too invokes the need for a new risk assessment. In New Zealand and the Provinces of Canada, legislation with similar effect is in place.

When you use RiskAssess to make a modifiable copy, most of the work of entering the details is done for you. You can then focus on any factors specially applicable to the class. A modifiable copy is just a starting point; it should be modified as appropriate for each class and location. You might choose to remove chemicals and equipment with hazardous properties in a class with discipline problems; on the other hand, in a trustworthy class, you might add these items in the expectation that they would be handled responsibly, with the benefit of an improved learning experience.

If you create a separate risk assessment for each experiment/class/location, the scheduling system of RiskAssess can be used, thus greatly facilitating the organisation of experiment preparations.

What happens to risk assessments at the expiry date?

A risk assessment remains valid until something changes or until it has to undergo a "regular review", as required by law. Risk assessments are never deleted by RiskAssess (even if they expire), since risk assessments are required as a long-term legal record and as a source of templates for making modifiable copies, as the starting point for future risk assessments. Risk assessments are not deleted at the expiry date. Nothing happens to stored risk assessments at the expiry date.

The default expiry date for risk assessments is 15 months from the creation date. This period allows review of the risk assessment after approximately one year, or a school's annual cycle. The period of 15 months applies to activities such as the preparation of dilute acid solutions for use in many laboratory classes throughout the year. If something changes during the 15 month period, e.g. another acid or different facilities, a new risk assessment must be carried out. For experiments carried out by students in classrooms, the 15 month expiry date is irrelevant. The reason is that a risk assessment must be carried out which takes into account "all relevant matters". Since many matters (e.g. student behaviour, allergies or special needs) may change whenever a different class carries out an experiment, a new risk assessment is required by law. This might sound like a huge amount of work, but it is actually fast and easy using the Create Modifiable Copy button in RiskAssess, that copies most details across into a new risk assessment for review and modification, and also automatically connects into the lab scheduling system.

Can two Teachers do the risk assessment?

From a legal point of view, it is crucial that the person in charge of the class (the Teacher) does a risk assessment for the classroom activities. If one Teacher does some experiments and the other teacher does others, they should each do the risk assessments for the experiments performed by each. The idea of two Teachers doing the same risk assessment doesn't fit with the law, since it usually will involve different classes and locations.

According to the Work Health and Safety Act in Australia, "all relevant matters" need to be taken into account. This includes the facilities available (e.g. fume cupboard), the behaviour of the class, students with special needs, students with allergies, etc. Since these factors may, and commonly do, vary from class to class, every class/location should be the subject of a separate risk assessment. This might seem like a huge job, but it is so easy to make a modifiable copy of an existing risk assessment as the starting point for a new one that a separate risk assessment for each class/location is easily possible (hundreds of schools are managing to do it). In New Zealand and in the different Provinces of Canada, legislation exists which imposes the same requirement, either stated explicitly or implied.

Each Teacher should do a risk assessment for each class/location that the Teacher is teaching. Two Teachers working together to do a risk assessment for the same class/location is very much in the spirit of the law, since it involves the pooling of skills and communication, but the Teacher in charge of the class should sign, since he/she has the legal responsibility. If there are two classes combined in one laboratory with two Teachers in charge, both Teachers should carry out the risk assessments and both should sign the risk assessment.

Is a generic risk assessment acceptable?

A generic risk assessment is not acceptable, from a legal or logical point of view. It never really was, and now the Work Health and Safety legislation in Australia makes it clear. A generic risk assessment is only ok if nothing changes for an extended time period. This may be the case in some industrial situations but, in the case of a school, with different groups of students doing experiments in different locations, a lot of critical things may and often do change. In New Zealand and in the different Provinces of Canada, legislation exists which imposes the same requirements, either stated explicitly or implied, making generic risk assessments in schools similarly unacceptable.

According to the Work Health and Safety Act in Australia, risk assessments must be carried out "taking into account and weighing up all relevant matters". In the case of science experiments, this would include the facilities available, the behaviour of the class, students with special needs, students with allergies, etc. These factors may, and commonly do, vary from class to class. The only way to meet the legal requirement fully is to carry out a separate risk assessment for each class for each experiment. This would seem like a huge job if you did it on paper, but doing it electronically with RiskAssess is actually quite easy. RiskAssess also offers advantages in terms of improved communication between Teachers and Laboratory Technicians and also includes a scheduling system, which is especially favoured by Laboratory Technicians.

How do I do a risk assessment when team teaching?

A lot depends on the details of the "team teaching". From a legal point of view, it is crucial that the person in charge of the class (the Teacher) carries out a risk assessment for the classroom activities. Does one Teacher do some experiments and the other teacher does others? If so, they should each do the risk assessments for the experiments they each perform. If there are two classes combined in one laboratory with two Teachers in charge, both Teachers should carry out the risk assessments and both should sign the risk assessment.

The next point is that, according to the Work Health and Safety Act, "all relevant factors" need to be taken into account. This includes the facilities available (e.g. fume cupboard), the behaviour of the class, students with special needs, students with allergies, etc. Since these factors may, and commonly do, vary from class to class, every class/location should be the subject of a separate risk assessment. This might seem like a huge job, but it is easy to make a modifiable copy of an existing risk assessment as the starting point for a new one and a separate risk assessment for each class/location is easily possible. Hundreds of schools are using RiskAssess to comply fully with the law by doing a separate risk assessment for each class/location.

Does the date of lodgement change during an author update?

When a Teacher or Laboratory Technician does an author update of a risk assessment in editable form (without a full set of electronic signatures), the date of the actual experiment can be changed, but the date of lodgement remains the same. Most RiskAssess users prefer to retain the date of initial lodgement. Usually, the author updating and electronic signing take place over a relatively short time period and the date when the process began is the preferred date to retain.

Some schools do not archive experiments, but simply update risk assessments in editable form and print out risk assessments. This is not ideal, since you retain no electronic records for legal purposes and would need to keep the paper print outs for many years. It also means that the scheduling system may not operate properly as it is designed to have a risk assessment for each prac.

Can I assess each risk, one at a time, in a risk assessment?

We are considering providing an option to do a "Stepwise risk assessment", via a button with that name just before the actual risk assessment sections. The idea is that the screen would morph to show each of the items on our assessment list separately, with a pop-out box for entering control measures for each, if selected. So far, this is more than most schools are looking for, but we are considering it for the future.

Can a Laboratory Technician check the risk assessment of Teacher and can a Teacher check the risk assessment of the Laboratory Technician?

Yes. It is very worthwhile, and completely in keeping with good practice and the law, for people to cross-check each other on matters of safety. RiskAssess makes it easy, since separate risk assessments by both Teacher and Laboratory Technician are required on the same form, and it is simple for one to look at the efforts of the other.

Legally, a Laboratory Technician just needs to do the risk assessment for his/her efforts before and after the class and the Teacher needs to do the risk assessment for the activities during class. After the Teacher has done an independent assessment of risks in the classroom, the Laboratory Technician can comment on the adequacy of the risk assessment and provide suggestions if something has been overlooked.

The Laboratory Technician is under no obligation to check the risk assessment of the Teacher, nor is the Teacher under any obligation to take the advice of the Laboratory Technician. The same applies for the Teacher who might offer advice to the Laboratory Technician. Each is responsible for assessing the risks of his/her own activities. A Laboratory Technician is often not aware of all the factors affecting students, such as allergies and behaviour, and so is unable to carry out a risk assessment for the classroom activities. In a well-functioning workplace, it is hoped that advice and suggestions will be taken in good spirit and adequately considered. If a control measure (or anything) is changed on a risk assessment by a second person, the electronic signature of the first person is automatically removed. Advice and suggestions can most easily be sent by email between Teacher and Laboratory Technician.

It is quite acceptable for one person (either Teacher or Laboratory Technician) to prepare a draft risk assessment covering the activities of both people. A draft risk assessment (without any electronic signature) can be emailed, so that the second person can do the risk assessment of his/her activities and provide an electronic signature. When both Teacher and Laboratory Technician are happy with their risk assessments, they can add their electronic signatures.

What are the legal responsibilities of Teacher and Laboratory Technician?

The Teacher is responsible for what happens in the classroom (not the Laboratory Technician!) and it is the Teacher's job to do the risk assessment of classroom activities. In some cases, the Teacher alone would be provided with confidential information relating to students, which would not be provided to the Laboratory Technician. Issues such as student behaviour would be much better known to the Teacher than the Laboratory Technician. This means that the Laboratory Technician is not capable of carrying out an adequate assessment of risks in the classroom.

Laboratory Technicians are responsible for the preparation of the kit of chemicals, equipment and biological materials that is sent to the classroom and for the clean-up after the experiment. In some cases, this may involve chemicals with greater potential hazards than in the classroom, e.g. diluting concentrated sulphuric acid to the 1 M solution for use in class.

Legally and logically, the Laboratory Technician should just do the risk assessment for the activities before and after the class and the Teachers should do the risk assessment for the activities during class.

Should I use a risk matrix?

Schools should be using a risk matrix to help them assess the severity of risk. Many school authorities mandate the use of one. It is recommended that school staff read the book chapter Risk assessment and control of risks for an explanation of the risk assessment process and check on the risk matrix required by their school system. The risk assessment process of RiskAssess relies on people to apply their school risk matrix at two points: for the initial assessment of "inherent risk" and for the final assessment of "risk with the control measures in place".

How can the school best use RiskAssess?

It is best to carry out a separate risk assessment for each experiment for each class, for the Teacher and Laboratory Technician to cross-check each other's efforts, then add electronic signatures so that the document is archived in a manner that cannot be changed, to provide a legal record. Occasionally, for experiments with high or extreme level of inherent risk, a third person (authorized person) is required to assess and sign the document. See the RiskAssess user guide for full details.

The scheduling page allows both Laboratory Technicians and Teachers to easily monitor risk assessments and check their status; most school staff find it preferable to emailing risk assessments.

We do not guarantee to store your risk assessments, but we have an elaborate system of backups and nothing has been lost since we started in 2008. You should arrange with the IT people at your school to maintain a backup of your risk assessments. It is recommended that you download and store your risk assessments as you go along, then have your IT people arrange the long-term storage at regular intervals.

Are there folders in RiskAssess or a way to classify by topic/unit?

There are no folders in RiskAssess, but it is possible to do something similar using the Name of the risk assessment. If you start the Name of the risk assessment with the topic/unit name in brackets eg, [Physical World] or [PW], you can then search for this later. Eg, in risk assessment search, enter [PW] and you'll find all of the risk assessments for the PW topic/unit.

How can I get a list of high and extreme risk pracs for audit purposes?

Go into the Laboratory Schedule screen and use 'Any Dates' to choose the time period. Then click the Download for Excel / CSV button. This will download you a file of all the pracs that you have listed. Open the downloaded file in Excel, and use the Autofilter function on the 'Classroom Inherent Risk Level' column to show only high and extreme (see more about Autofilter in excel).

Using Student RiskAssess

How can I update the Student RiskAssess contact person for my school?

You can update name, phone number and email address for the Student RiskAssess contact person for your school, if you have linked your Student RiskAssess subscription to your staff RiskAssess subscription. Click the 'Tools' link on the top right of your home page (next to a cog icon). Then click 'Update Contact Details' link. If you have not yet linked your staff and student subscriptions, please see Student PINs and Student RiskAssess for assessment purposes or refer to the User Guide for Student RiskAssess.

How do I use Student RiskAssess for assessment purposes?

Student RiskAssess can be used for assessment purposes by enabling the PIN feature. When PINs are enabled, students can set a PIN on the risk assessments they create. This PIN is required by students to view or edit these risk assessments again. Having risk assessments PIN-protected means students cannot view/copy each other's work. Staff are still able to access all risk assessments.

The PIN feature in Student RiskAssess can be used in a variety of ways. The simplest is to ask all students to choose their own PIN when they create a risk assessment. Each student should use the same PIN on all their own risk assessments (if they have several) and choose a hard-to-guess PIN (eg, 43085 not 0000). An alternative is for staff to issue each student with a random PIN to use. Staff can view all student risk assessments and their PINs. If a Teacher wants a particular risk assessment to be visible to all the students (eg a template for students to copy from), the PIN field should be left blank.

To enable the PIN feature for Student RiskAssess, the school's Staff subscription must be linked to the school's Student subscription. Linking the accounts needs to be done ONCE only. This is so that staff can log in to Student RiskAssess using their staff password, and have access to all risk assessments without needing a PIN. In other words, the staff will have unlimited access, while the student will only be able to open their own PIN protected risk assessments plus any risk assessments that are not PIN-protected.

When the PIN-feature is enabled, and your students log in to Student RiskAssess, they will have the option of setting a PIN if they start a new risk assessment or edit an old one (if it does not have a pin already).

When Staff log in to Student RiskAssess, they should use the Student RiskAssess username, but the STAFF password. They then have access to all risk assessments.

How do I enable PINs, or update contact details or subject / year group lists in Student RiskAssess?

You need to link your Staff and Student RiskAssess subscriptions:

  • Log in to the STAFF subscription to RiskAssess at www.riskassess.com.au
  • Click the "Tools" button next to the "log out" button at the top right corner of your home page.
  • Scroll down to section titled Student RiskAssess and PINs
  • Click "Link your Student Subscription >" button
  • Enter your Student subscription username and password and click the "Link >" button.

You will get a confirmation message "Linked student subscription and student PIN system enabled". For more information, see linking Student RiskAssess & pins.

How do I change/view students' PIN, if PIN feature is enabled?

Staff can find out or change the PIN for an individual student risk assessment by logging into Student RiskAssess with the staff password, then finding the relevant risk assessment and clicking "Author's Update". The PIN field can be viewed and edited by the staff member.

Do staff need PINs to view students' risk assessments, if PIN feature is enabled?

No. Staff do not need to use PINs. When Staff log in to Student RiskAssess using the Student RiskAssess username, but the STAFF password, they will have access to all students’ risk assessments, whether they are PIN protected or not.

How do staff share risk assessments with the class, if PIN feature is enabled?

If a Teacher wants a particular risk assessment to be visible to all the students (eg a template for students to copy from), the PIN field should be left blank. All risk assessments that are not PIN-protected will be able to be viewed by all.

How do I change my school's Student RiskAssess password?

To change the school's password, the school's contact person should email with the username, current password, and the new password that your school would like to use. Once we have changed the password, we will email the contact person to confirm that the change has been made.

How can I download an invoice to renew my Student RiskAssess subscription?

Student RiskAssess will automatically send the contact person for your school an invoice 2 months and 1 month before your subscription expires. If you would like to download an invoice at any other time, click the 'Tools' link on the top right of your home page (next to a cog icon). Then click 'Download Renewal Invoice' link. The ‘Tools' link in Student RiskAssess will only be displayed if you have linked your Student RiskAssess subscription to your staff RiskAssess subscription. Otherwise you can email us at .

Chemical Data, Solutions, Safety Data Sheets, and the GHS

Do RiskAssess and Student RiskAssess include Globally Harmonised System (GHS) information on pure chemicals?

From 1 January 2016, RiskAssess and Student RiskAssess include Globally Harmonised System (GHS) information on more than 1000 commonly used pure chemicals in schools.

Do RiskAssess and Student RiskAssess include Globally Harmonised System (GHS) information on chemical solutions?

From 1 January 2016, RiskAssess and Student RiskAssess include Globally Harmonised System (GHS) information on more than 1000 concentration ranges of chemicals commonly used in schools.

Will I be able to access my old risk assessments after the GHS update?

After the GHS update, you will still be able to access your old risk assessments. If you do want to copy or change them, there is a simple process to update them to the new GHS data. Sometimes for a risk assessment this will be automatic, other times you'll need to choose concentration ranges, as the new GHS data have more solution information.

What do I do if I can't find a chemical?

Check that you are looking in the chemical database. You won't find a pure chemical in the equipment or biological databases. However, manufactured chemical products, e.g. "detergent", are located in the equipment database. The idea is that unique pure chemicals (with a CAS Registry Number) are found in the chemical database, but mixtures of chemicals produced by companies for specific purposes are found in the equipment database. The reason is that manufacturers do not usually provide full details of their products and may change the composition at any time. It is not possible therefore to provide the detailed information of a pure chemical for a manufactured product.

It is not entirely logical or obvious that manufactured chemical products are found in the equipment database. In the future, we plan to allow pure chemicals or manufactured products to be entered in the search fields for both chemicals and equipment, with correct automatic placement of information in the risk assessments that are generated.

Occasionally, a chemical is missing from the database. If this is the case, enter the name of the chemical, its potential hazards and its standard handling procedures (from the (M)SDS) in the "Other risks" text box at the end of the data-entry screen. Please email us to let us know, so that we can add the chemical to the database at the next update.

Does RiskAssess provide Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) or Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs)?

SDSs (formerly, MSDSs) are the intellectual property of the manufacturer and copyright to the manufacturer. RiskAssess does not provide SDSs/MSDSs.

You are required by law to have a (M)SDS available wherever a chemical is stored or used. RiskAssess requires school staff to confirm that this is the case when they sign a risk assessment.

(M)SDSs are easy to obtain on the web from manufacturer's websites and, by law, the manufacturer must provide a (M)SDS with every chemical sold to you. The easiest way is to enter into a search engine "MSDS" space "name of the chemical" space "name of manufacturer". Note that it is usually better to use "MSDS", rather than "SDS" since the USA has not yet moved to SDSs and exerts a dominant influence on the web. Often documents called MSDSs are in fact SDSs, but the old name has been retained.

How do I do risk assessments for preparing stock solutions?

A Laboratory Technician can carry out a risk assessment without the Teacher signing. This might happen when a Laboratory Technician is preparing bulk solutions for several classes, eg dilute acid solutions. You can simply enter the name of the Teacher as "Not applicable". Alternatively, you can ask the Teacher to have a look and check that the Teacher can find nothing further to add. If you preface the title of every stock preparation with a word like "PREPARATION", eg "PREPARATION: Ammonium molybdate reagent", "PREPARATION: Dilute acid solutions", etc, you can then search on the word "PREPARATION" to find such risk assessments.

What is the validity period for a Safety Data Sheet (Material Safety Data Sheet)?

The validity of a Safety Data Sheet (formerly, Material Safety Data Sheet) is 5 years. Note that this is not the same as the validity period for a risk assessment. Check on the (M)SDS for the creation date; the expiry date is 5 years after that.

Why doesn't RiskAssess include first-aid information for chemicals?

RiskAssess does not provide first-aid information. This is the job of the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) or the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). In signing a risk assessment in RiskAssess, staff certify that the (M)SDS is available. By law, a copy of the (M)SDS is required to be available wherever a chemical is stored or used, so the inclusion of first aid information in RiskAssess is unnecessary.

Should I use third party SDSs and mini SDSs?

By law, a copy of the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) or the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is required to be available wherever a chemical is stored or used. The document specified is that provided by the manufacturer. Documents provided by third parties (eg, ChemWatch) are not mentioned in legislation. Mini SDSs (or mini MSDSs) are nowhere mentioned in legislation. If you use a "mini" document, you are relying on the skill of people, unrelated to the manufacturer, to transfer information without error and to select the information that is required for emergency situations. RiskAssess recommends that schools use the SDS or MSDS provided by the manufacturer. Use of "mini" documents is not recommended. In practice, only a court of law could decide whether a third-party SDS or a mini SDS satisfied the legal requirement.

SDSs/MSDSs are easy to obtain from the web from manufacturer's websites and, by law, the manufacturer must provide a (M)SDS with every chemical sold to you. The easiest way is to enter into a search engine "MSDS" space "name of the chemical" space "name of manufacturer". Note that it is usually better to use "MSDS" rather than "SDS" since the USA has not yet moved to SDSs and exerts a dominant influence on the web. Often documents called MSDSs are in fact SDSs, but the old name has been retained. ChemWatch provides an extensive library of manufacturers' SDSs/MSDSs and many schools use this resource.

How available should a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) or Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) be?

A SDS (or MSDS) should be readily available, say within 1 minute, in case of injury, first aid, spill, etc. If something bad happens, that is when you will need the (M)SDS. It should be the full (M)SDS from the manufacturer. The law does not specify how it should be "available". An alphabetical file of paper (M)SDSs in the adjoining room, with a search time of less than 1 minute, would almost certainly satisfy a court of law as "available". If it took 10 minutes to find the (M)SDS, probably a court of law would find that the document was not sufficiently "available". A continuously running computer with backup power supply containing every SDS as a pdf file in alphabetical order on its hard drive would probably satisfy a court of law, if any SDS could be found in less than a minute. It would not be sufficient to have to log in to a computer, go to the web and search for the SDS, due to the long time required and the possibility of data-transfer problems. In the end, only a court of law can decide whether a (M)SDS was "available". A manufacturer's (M)SDS in the kit for each chemical used in an experiment is a good way to meet the logical and legal requirements.

What are the chemical user codes for each chemical?

The fundamental idea is to define who in the laboratory (all students, 7-12, 11-12, Teacher, nobody) should use each chemical in an "average" class, based on the hazardous properties of the chemical.

The original chemical codes were developed in the late 1990s by the Department of Education in NSW. At the time, the chemical codes were the most extensive system of laboratory-user advice of which we were aware in Australia, NZ and Canada.

Since the release of the NSW system of chemical codes in 1999, more information has become available for many chemicals. In cases where the potential hazards of chemicals are much greater than were previously believed, we have updated the chemical codes; conversely, some chemicals with less hazardous properties than previously thought have had their recommended users expanded. See Chemical User Codes and Chemical Training Codes for details.

Labelling

My labels don't print out the right size / right place. How can I fix this?

If you have problems with printing/margins, ensure you are using the exact printer driver for your printer model, sourced from the manufacturer of your printer (not just coming with Windows/Mac). Check you have the right paper size selected (A4) and are printing with Chrome/Acrobat. Have a look at your printer paper/labels in the tray and make sure they are straight and properly positioned. Some label sheets are not quite symmetrical - check they are being printed the right way up. Try another printer and computer (eg, at home) to compare. Measure the margins in the PDF using Adobe Acrobat measure tool and compare with the printed output. Discuss with your internal IT team.

If are printing more labels on a partially used sheet of sticky labels, make sure you always feed / load the paper the same way up as the first time you printed on the sheet. You may want to mark the right way up on the sheet itself, for next time, if it is not clear. This will ensure that the un-used labels get printed on.

Do RiskAssess labels comply?

The labels generated in RiskAssess comply with the latest edition of the GHS [1] and with both the requirements and guidelines in the Safe Work Australia "Labelling Workplace Hazardous Chemicals Code of Practice" [2], which has been adopted in every Australian State and Territory in which the Work Health and Safety Act has been passed into law (all but VIC and WA).

The labels are for "Transferred or decanted hazardous chemicals", that is, for chemical containers used to hold small quantities of chemicals for student use. The labels are not a substitute for the original labels on chemical containers provided by the manufacturer or supplier; these require more extensive labelling. New Zealand has not yet regulated "Transferred or decanted hazardous chemicals", but appears to be following the Australian lead in its legislation. In Canada, the words "SDS available" may be required on containers of "Transferred or decanted hazardous chemicals"; if so, RiskAssess will add this as a labelling option in the future.

The information in the label for each pure substance comes from the ECHA database [3], also used by Safe Work Australia in its "Hazardous Chemicals Information List" [4].

The information in the label for each solution comes from the ECHA database [3], if data are available for "Specific Concentration Limits"; otherwise, the data come from the application of the rules in the GHS [1] to the ECHA classification of the pure chemical [3], following the rules for mixtures, with water as an inert diluent [5].

ECHA regularly adds new data on chemical classifications, and updates summary information. The labels in RiskAssess will change over time, based on the updates in the ECHA database. The labels may not agree with those based on older or different data.

Summary

RiskAssess labels comply. The labels are suitable only for containers of "transferred or decanted hazardous chemicals", not for the original container. The label for a particular chemical may change over time, if new data become available.

[1] United Nations "Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)" 6th ed., New York and Geneva, 2015.
http://www.unece.org/trans/danger/publi/ghs/ghs_rev06/06files_e.html

[2] Safe Work Australia "Labelling Workplace Hazardous Chemicals Code of Practice", Sept 2015.
Section 3.3: Transferred or decanted hazardous chemicals
Section 4.2: Orientation and size of label elements
http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/SWA/about/Publications/Documents/643/COP_Labelling_of_Workplace_Hazardous_Chemicals.pdf

[3] European Chemicals Agency "Classification and Labelling Inventory".
http://echa.europa.eu/information-on-chemicals/cl-inventory-database

[4] Safe Work Australia "Hazardous Substances Information System".
http://hsis.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/GHSInformation/GHS_Hazardous_Chemical_Information_List

[5] RiskAssess "GHS data for solutions".
http://www.riskassess.com.au/docs/GHSdataSolutions.pdf

What are the legal dates for compliance with GHS labelling?

ACT, NSW, NT, QLD, SA, TAS

All chemicals in laboratories must now be correctly labelled according to GHS and the Code of Practice. The labelling provisions of the Work Health and Safety Act became fully effective on 1 January 2017.

Original containers must provide full GHS information (except for old containers, which will gradually be used up).

"Decanted or transferred hazardous chemicals", that is, chemical containers and dropper bottles used to hold small quantities of chemicals for student use, must be labelled with:

  • name
  • either pictogram(s) or hazard statement(s)

as a minimum, following guidelines for size of pictograms and text. This labelling is provided in RiskAssess.

VIC

Until 30 June 2017: GHS labelling as provided in RiskAssess for "Decanted or transferred hazardous chemicals" is acceptable, provided Dangerous Goods Diamond(s) are also affixed.

After 1 July 2017: GHS requirements are unknown, since the Hazardous Substances Regulations 2007 will have expired and new legislation has not been passed by parliament.

WA

GHS labelling as provided in RiskAssess for "Decanted or transferred hazardous chemicals" is acceptable, provided Dangerous Goods Diamonds are also affixed. Work Health and Safety Act is before parliament and, when passed, will probably adopt same requirements as in ACT, NSW, NT, QLD, SA, TAS.

New Zealand

GHS labelling is mandatory for original containers, but labelling of "Decanted or transferred hazardous chemicals" has not yet been defined. Legislation appears to be following that in Australia.

Canada

GHS labelling is mandatory for original containers, but labelling of "Decanted or transferred hazardous chemicals" in each Province has not yet been defined.

RiskAssess signal word or pictograms are not the same as another source of safety information. Why?

RiskAssess uses the latest ECHA data. You can see the ECHA Chemicals and Labelling Inventory here (accept the legal notice and click on "CL Inventory"). This is based on classifications submitted to the European Chemicals Association from all over Europe. The Europeans have been at the forefront of developing the GHS as a UN initiative. The ECHA data are used by Safe Work Australia.

There are other systems and other opinions regarding the hazardous properties of chemicals, but the ECHA data are the best of which we are aware. Some manufacturers, in their SDSs do not take into account dilution, but simply quote the hazards associated with the pure chemical.

In the GHS, there are rules for diminishing the hazardous properties of substances as they are diluted (regarded as mixing with an inert second component) which we take into account on labels. See GHS Data for Solutions for more information.

What is required on a GHS compliant label? RiskAssess labels have bigger pictograms and less text?

According to the "Labelling of Workplace Hazardous Chemicals Code of Practice" by Safe Work Australia (March 2015), reagent bottles in a school science laboratory would be regarded as "Decanted or transferred hazardous chemicals", meaning that a hazardous chemical has been decanted or transferred from the container in which it was packed and it will not be used immediately or it is supplied to someone else. For such a chemical, a label is required which must, at a minimum, be written in English and include the following [Section 3.3]:

  • the product identifier, and
  • hazard pictogram or hazard statement consistent with the correct classification of the chemical.

There is guidance for the orientation and size of label elements in the Code of Practice [Section 4.2]. For containers up to 500 mL capacity, the minimum pictogram size is 15 x 15 mm and the minimum text size is 2.5 mm. For containers 500 mL to 5 L capacity, the minimum pictogram size is 20 x 20 mm and the minimum text size is 3 mm. Otherwise, hazard pictograms and text may be in any size and style that is easily legible and is appropriate to the size of the label and container.

In RiskAssess, we have chosen to:

  • include the Signal word, since it provides a rapid summary of the hazard level
  • use pictograms, rather than hazard statements, since they are more readily understood
  • add hazard statements when there is sufficient room
  • focus on communicating the most essential information.

What does each pictogram mean / can I print them?

See 'How the GHS system works' in GHS Data in RiskAssess

Can I print labels in black and white?

The Code of Practice [1] states that "The information and hazard pictograms on any label should be printed in a colour or colours that provide a distinct contrast to the background colour".

If you use a black and white printer to print RiskAssess labels, the red prints as a dark grey, distinctly different from the background colour (white). This means that black and white printing of labels should be acceptable, according to the Code of Practice.

However, printing in colour is much better, since the signal word and pictograms are even more obvious. For bottles which will be used for a long time, we recommend that you find a colour printer somewhere in the school and print labels in colour, if possible.

[1] Safe Work Australia "Labelling Workplace Hazardous Chemicals Code of Practice", Sept 2015.
Section 4: Labelling design and layout
http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/SWA/about/Publications/Documents/643/COP_Labelling_of_Workplace_Hazardous_Chemicals.pdf

Carcinogens, sensitisers, reproductive toxicants and specific target-organ toxicants: cut-off values

The duty of care by a school to its students is very high. Students are at a vulnerable stage of their physical and mental development. RiskAssess has therefore taken a cautious view on cut-off concentrations for chemicals and has chosen to use the conservative cut-off values in the latest GHS, which is promoted by the United Nations and supported especially by countries in Europe. Another reason for a conservative approach is that, for most chemicals, no human data are available with which to assess the exact cutoff values.

For chemicals which

  • may cause or are suspected to cause cancer
  • may damage fertility, the unborn child or breast-fed children
  • may cause allergy, asthma symptoms or breathing difficulties
  • may damage particular organs (e.g. liver or kidneys)

the cut-off values for hazardous properties in dilute mixtures recommended by Safe Work Australia [1] for manufacturers and suppliers are sometimes higher than those in the latest edition of the GHS [2]. The WorkSafe cutoff values range from 3 to 30 times higher.

What differences are there in practice?

There is no difference for pure chemicals.
There is no difference for concentrated solutions.
For some dilute solutions, however, the cut-off values recommended by Safe Work Australia mean that a pictogram or a hazard statement according to the latest GHS is not required. If a school wishes to follow the less conservative WorkSafe cutoff values, the extra pictogram or hazard statement can be covered, before clear tape or contact is applied to the label.

It is the policy of RiskAssess to provide schools with the most up-to-date information available. This means referencing the latest data provided by ECHA [3] and following the latest edition of the GHS [2].

Below the lowest cut-off concentration, a solution of a chemical is not considered by GHS to have any hazardous properties. In these situations, the RiskAssess label states that the chemical is "Not classified as a hazardous chemical according to GHS". As an additional safety precaution, RiskAssess alerts users to the hazardous properties of the pure chemical used to prepare the solution in the Potential hazards section of the risk assessment form, if the pure chemical is suspected of causing cancer, genetic defects or damage to fertility.

[1] Safe Work Australia "Guidance on the classification of hazardous chemicals under the WHS Regulations: implementation of the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)" April 2012.
http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/SWA/about/Publications/Documents/682/Classification%20Hazardous%20Chemicals.pdf

[2] United Nations "Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)" 6th ed., New York and Geneva, 2015.
http://www.unece.org/trans/danger/publi/ghs/ghs_rev06/06files_e.html

[3] European Chemicals Agency "Classification and Labelling Inventory".
http://echa.europa.eu/information-on-chemicals/cl-inventory-database

Questions on hydrochloric acid

In the ECHA database (click here to see), if you enter "hydrochloric acid" and go down the page, you will see that hydrochloric acid has Specific Concentration Limits with
Eye Irrit. 2; H319: 10% ≤ C < 25%
Skin Irrit. 2; H315: 10% ≤ C < 25%

This means that below 10% wt/wt (~3 M), hydrochloric acid is no longer regarded as causing "Serious eye irritation" or "Skin irritation", according to the classifications reported to ECHA following GHS criteria. This does not mean that it has no irritant effects. It may still "Cause eye irritation" or "Cause mild skin irritation", but adequate data are not available for this. To cover the likely situation, RiskAssess has added the Potential hazards "Higher concentrations irritate eyes, lungs and skin". Just about anything that is not isotonic nor at physiological pH will irritate the eyes to some extent. There may also be large variations between people in terms of skin irritation.

The classifiers of chemicals are mostly interested in distinguishing between eye or skin damage, and skin or eye irritation. According to GHS criteria, irritation is reversible, whereas damage is not. The boundary between damage and irritation is often the subject of disagreement between different classifiers. In the case of hydrochloric acid, however, the quantity of data is very great (more than 2000 classifications, with broad agreement) and ECHA itself has provided the summary data on concentration limits.

Where can I find iodine solutions?

I2 reacts with I- to form I3- ions. Solutions containing both I2 and KI are therefore shown as KI3. I2 has only very low solubility in water and we only list aqueous solutions. We have the note "See 'potassium triiodide' for solutions containing both potassium iodide and iodine" in the standard handling procedures for "iodine, 0.001 M (0.03% wt/wt), saturated solution" to give people the hint.

Enter KI3 in the chemical search and you should find it!

More Information

Where can I find the user guides?

You can download the RiskAssess user guide or Student RiskAssess user guide.

Can I use RiskAssess for other school areas?

The structure and logic of RiskAssess is applicable to every school area (and indeed to every activity). The biggest problem with application to another school area is the database information - at the moment, we only cover the Science area. A smaller problem is the user interface - we need to develop an interface for each area that fits with the way people work (eg only Science commonly has a Laboratory Technician).

In 2017, we will be starting development of versions of RiskAssess for "Art" and for "Technology" subjects (variously named in different States, Provinces and countries). "Maintenance" and "Excursions" are planned as the the next efforts after that. Ultimately, we plan to provide versions of RiskAssess for all school areas.

My question is not here. How can I find out more?

The RiskAssess user guide and Student RiskAssess user guide are worth reading for further information.
If your question is still not answered and you are a staff member, please email us at . If you are a student with a question, please contact the relevant Teacher.

Contact Details

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General Questions and Suggestions
For technical issues, suggestions or questions.