Many substances that are used in institutions may have a health and safety risk associated with them, however they can still be used safely provided the risks are understood. There are a number of relevant pieces of legislation:
Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (2002) [COSHH], requires employers to control exposure to hazardous substances to prevent ill health.
The Consumer Protection Act (1987) demands that adequate information about substances and their proper use is available from the supplier and that this information must be efficiently communicated through the supply chain.
The Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply) (Amendment) Regulations 2000 demands that hazardous substances are appropriately labelled when supplied to a customer.
Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) places an onus on suppliers, manufacturers and importers of substances for use in the workplace to ascertain the potential hazards of such substances, and to have this information available for users. Section II of the Act places the same duty on institutions and, subsequently, on Heads of Departments to ensure that such information is effectively disseminated to the staff concerned.
Anyone who has any doubts about the safe usage and handling of any materials should take advice from his/her institution's Health and Safety Office, prior to placing an order for such an item.
You can also supplement this advice by visiting the AoC section on H&S which includes a document library housing copies of College H&S policies, risk assessments and procedures.