Workplace Health and Safety

Workplace Health and Safety

WHS in the Department of Physics and Astronomy

The Department of Physics and Astronomy is committed to ensuring the health and safety of our students, staff, visitors, and all others who make use of our facilities and workspaces, and abides by the Macquarie University Health and Safety Policy and all associated legislation.

All users of our labs and offices have a personal responsibility to keep the spaces clean and tidy, comply with all health and safety policies, procedures and guidelines, and take action to eliminate, minimise, or report hazards. The MQ research policy website covers most hazardous materials and their approvals, and related procedures and policies for lasers, chemicals and much more.

Each research laboratory in the department has been assigned an Academic Supervisor. This person has control and oversight of the activities undertaken in the laboratory and with this comes the responsibility to ensure that the laboratory is properly maintained and managed, and compliant with all WHS regulations. The Academic Supervisor may nominate a Lab Manager to whom they may delegate some of the work involved (for example induction and training of new users, enforcement of procedures and policies). Contact the lab manager or academic supervisor for any queries related to a particular lab.

For all Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) related queries, your first port of call will be the FSE Research and Lab Health and Safety Page. Many useful resources can be found here, but the page is still under construction, so the below guides will help you to find the correct information in the meantime.

Health, Safety and Wellbeing Contacts

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

See our dedicated equity, diversity, and inclusion webpage for an extensive list of wellbeing support resources, contacts, and networks.

First Aid Officers

Emma Hastings 7 Wally's Walk, Room 2711 x8911
Adam Joyce14 Sir Christopher Ondaatje Ave, Room 214 x9237
Bianca Sawyer 14 Sir Christopher Ondaatje Ave, Room 214 x1061
Danny Cochran + Paul Connor 14 Sir Christopher Ondaatje Ave, Room 122 x8972
James Wood 14 Sir Christopher Ondaatje Ave, Room 254 x9140
Alex Stokes Australian Hearing Hub, Room 4514 x5042
First Aid Room 14 Eastern Road, Room 107 

Mental Health First Aid Officers

Alex Fuerbach 7 Wally's Walk, Room 2608/AHH, Room 4516 x6145
Dan Zucker 7 Wally's Walk, Room 2705 x4442

Laser Safety Officers

Adam Joyce (Department of Physics and Astronomy)

Alex Arriola (School of Engineering)

Health and Safety Representative (HSR)

The HSR is elected to represent the workers of a specified workgroup on health and safety matters, in a capacity that is external to the university itself. The current HSR for the Department of Physics and Astronomy is Bianca Sawyer. Please don't hesitate to contact her if you have any WHS concerns.

The HSR:
  • Is available to discuss H&S concerns with department members.
  • Sits on the P&A WHS committee.
  • Follows up ROAR incident reports when necessary.
  • Arranges inspections of work areas within the department, when required.
  • Can direct workers to stop unsafe work immediately if there is a serious concern.
  • Can issue a Provisional Improvement Notice (PIN) to the employer (MQU) if there is an infringement of the Work Health and Safety Act, that cannot be resolved through internal consultation.

You can find out more about the role of the HSR on the SafeWork NSW website.

Workplace Health and Safety Committee

The Department of Physics and Astronomy also maintains an active WHS committee with members from each discipline including academic, technical and HDR student representatives. The committee meets quarterly, soon before the Faculty-level WHS meeting which is attended by the P&A WHS committee chair and the Head of Department.

The current P&A WHS committee members are listed in the table below, please contact one of them if you want to raise an issue, or if you would like to join the committee please contact the chair.

Bianca SawyerInterim Chair,
Blaise Anthony Kuo TiongHDR
Adam JoyceTeaching

Obtaining research lab access

Our experimental research labs are highly specialised spaces that present a range of hazards differing from those typically encountered in an office or study working environment. To keep our users safe and maintain the integrity of our research spaces, all lab users must undergo an induction and training process before being given lab access. This process can take some time to complete so it should be started as soon as possible following a new staff or student's arrival at MQ.

  1. Enroll in and complete the Hazardous Chemicals and Electrical Safety Awareness online training modules via ELMO, and the Lab Essentials course via iLearn.
  2. If the lab(s) you will be working in contains hazardous lasers (class 3b or class 4), complete the laser safety induction. If you are unsure about any aspect of this, please speak to your supervisor or contact the Laser Safety Officer, Adam Joyce.
  3. Contact your supervisor or lab manager to request a local lab induction for each lab you require access to.
  4. Complete any other specific training or inductions you may require in order to become an authorised user of the lab. For example, this might include training on the use of specialised machinery, liquid nitrogen, particular lasers, or a spectrometer. Ask your supervisor and the local lab manager if you are unsure what is required of you, and never use a new instrument or hazardous substance without the appropriate training.
  5. Contact Megha Patel to request lab access. Include the building and room number(s) you require access to, your MQ ID number, and the CDX number from the back of your student or staff ID card, as well as proof that you have completed the training modules listed above (e.g. your pdf completion certificate, a copy of the approval emails). Please also copy both your supervisor and Bianca Sawyer into the email, as they will assist with the approval process.

FSE Store

The Faculty Store stocks and can assist in the procurement of a wide range of laboratory consumable items. The store is also the faculty's central facility for the ordering and return of gases and receives all deliveries coming into the faculty.


To navigate to the laser safety section of the H+S@MQ wiki, go to "Research and Laboratory" > "Radiation non-ionising, laser", and you will land on this page. There is a lot of information and links to further reading on laser safety in this section of the wiki, but the following lists the most frequently used sub-pages.

The ARPANSA website contains useful information on what a laser is, what they are used for, and what hazards they present.

User Induction

Laser Safety Induction protocol - this page lists the material that laser users must familiarise themselves with, outlines the procedure for getting an eye test, and for completing the laser project risk assessment.

The full induction procedure must be completed before a new laser user can access any lab with a class 3b or 4 laser in it.

Laser Safety Forms

All of the laser forms are accessed online in the OneHelp system.

List of laser forms available in One Help

A guide to completing these forms is also available: Guide to the online laser safety forms

Laser lab requirements

If you are designing or updating a lab space where high power lasers are used, this page outlines some of the requirements:

Draft Design Specifications for Laser Laboratories

Laser Safety Officer

If you have any laser safety queries, please contact our Department's Laser Safety Officer, Adam Joyce, or in his absence, Alex Arriola.



All users of Physics and Astronomy lab spaces must have completed (at a minimum) Module 1 of the Hazardous Chemicals Safety induction. Visit the chemicals page to learn more.


The Faculty of Science and Engineering uses the Jaggaer safety management system (formally SciQuest) which integrates the requirements for procurement and storage of chemicals, as well as managing the University chemical inventory of use and disposal. Visit the Jaggaer Wiki Page for login and use information.

All users of chemicals are responsible for tracking chemicals in Jaggaer, and an intro to Jaggaer should be a part of your lab’s induction process. For new Jaggaer accounts, contact Megha Patel.

There are guides available on the User Operations page that show how to create a container in Jaggaer, create a new material profile, upload an SDS, and more.


All chemicals (solid, liquid, gaseous) must be labeled according to the GHS (Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals). Information on the GHS requirements can be found on the SafeWork NSW website.

  • GHS labels can be generated using the anonymous user profile in ChemAlert, or you may make your own labels using a template.



How do I dispose of empty glass/plastic bottles that contained a chemical? Clean out any chemical residue with an appropriate solvent (usually acetone), rinse with water, and allow it to dry. Remove any labels on the containers and throw out any plastic waste in the general waste bin or glass waste in a recycling bin.

What do I do with commercial chemicals? Commercial chemicals (ie. WD40, Brasso etc.) do not need to be tracked in Jaggaer.

What about Nanoparticles/powders? These should be in Jaggaer just like everything else! The supplier likely has an SDS available, so find it and use it to create a “New Material” in Jaggaer (if it does not already exist). Do your best to add them, and just ask for help if you are unsure!

Biological Materials

At Macquarie University, research and teaching projects that involve the use of any biological materials must be reported to the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) via the Biosafety Management System.

Further information can be found on the Macquarie Biosafety webpage and Biosafety Wiki.


The below reporting systems are in place to ensure our workspaces are kept safe and well maintained, and we encourage you to lodge a ROAR or CTB report whenever there is an incident or you come across a potential hazard. The forms can be quite extensive, but just do the best you can when filling it out and enter "N/A" in any unknown fields.

If a hazard, accident, or near miss occurs in a lab, you should always also notify the lab manager, as they may be able to attend to it immediately.

Hazards, Accidents, and near-misses

All hazards, accidents, near-misses, and general concerns anywhere on campus should be reported via the ROAR system:

A button to lodge a ROAR can be found at the bottom of all MQ student and staff intranet pages, accessed from the main website.

Concerning and threatening behaviour

Any Concerning or Threatening Behaviour (CTB) on campus can be reported directly to security if urgent – extension 9999, or (02) 9850 9999 – or via the CTB form if non-urgent:

Don't ever hesitate to contact security if you find yourself in a situation on campus which makes you (or someone else) feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

Core business hours and out of hours work

Research laboratory/workshop work:
  • 7am-7pm on weekdays only.
Office work and teaching:
  • 7am-10pm on weekdays.
  • 8am-6pm on weekends.

FSE After Hours and Working Alone Guideline

The Faculty of Science and Engineering After Hours or Working Alone Guideline applies to all MQ Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE) workers and may be used to control the activities of workers, students, honorary associates, visitors, and others at MQ FSE workplaces or undertaking MQ FSE endorsed activities.

Any out-of-hours work, or work which will be conducted alone in a research laboratory, requires prior approval by the Head of Department. Note that core business hours exclude public holidays and the University shutdown period. After-hours applications can be submitted for a one-off situation, or patterns of work can be applied for if there is strong justification.

The first step toward gaining approval is to read through the guidelines and approval form, and chat with a co-worker or supervisor about the specific approval conditions you need, and identify what equipment or tasks are safe/unsafe to be doing when working after-hours. For example, a higher-risk activity such as aligning a class 4 laser would be something best left to core business hours, while systematically taking-data using a fully aligned setup with laser shielding around it might be okay. Any documentation like standard operating procedures or risk assessments for the specific tasks or equipment should be included with the application, as well as a justification of why the work must be done outside core work hours or alone. The application can then be sent on to Mike Steel for approval.


If you are carrying out off-campus fieldwork of any type, this should be managed in Field Friendly.

Screenshot of a new Field Friendly trip record


Forms that will be available here *soon* include: (In the meantime, contact Phil Dartnell or Bianca Sawyer)

HDR student completion form

The aim of this form is to make sure all students are leaving behind tidy and safe workspaces, particularly in labs, and all useful code, data, samples, etc. are being passed on appropriately. Please help to ensure that these forms are being completed.

Vacation scholar guidelines

All vacation scholars in labs need to read and agree to these, along with their supervisor.

Research lab induction form template

Eventually, all labs should be using a modified version of this template when inducting new users.

WHS templates and forms

Risk assessments, SOP and SWI templates

Other templates and forms

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