Research workers exposed to adverse respiratory sensitisers


An English University has been fined for exposing researchers to laboratory animal allergens (LAA), despite employees declaring a prior known allergy.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard how the researchers both began work at the in 2003, with both declaring that they were allergic to rodents around the time of taking up these positions. Over the years both were asked to work with rats and were exposed to various levels of LAA – a respiratory sensitiser and a substance hazardous to health.”

Following an HSE investigation, it was found that the University failed to carry out sufficient risk assessments, did not carry out regular health surveillance and failed to provide sufficient training and supervision to avoid exposure.

The University pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2 and Section 33 (1) (a) of the Health and Safety at Work Act etc 1974 and was fined £10,000.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Susan Donnelly said: “This was a case of the University completely failing to grasp the importance of risk-based health surveillance.

“If the University had implemented a system of risk-based health surveillance, it would have ensured that an Occupational Health Management system was in place which would monitor worker’s fitness for work. Such systems can prevent an employee’s health condition becoming severe and life altering.’’



Wet-lab researchers are often required to work with substances that could be hazardous to health. Regular risk assessments and health surveillance ensures the employer is able to put proper processes in place to minimise risk and protect the health of their workers.

When elimination, substitution, engineering controls and administrative controls are not able to remove the risk completely, respiratory protective equipment (RPE) could be the answer.


RPE is used to protect the wearer from a variety of respiratory hazards and comes in different styles, protection factors and filtration types for varying users and situations.

If you require RPE and are not sure where to start, speak with one of our RPE Experts today on:

01933 672180