The law

In the UK, the legislation that directly applies to hazardous substances in the workplace is the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002.

COSHH requires employers to reduce risks of exposure to employees and others. Typical actions for a museum with spirit collections will include:

  • Identifying hazardous spirit collections.
  • Assessing risks of exposure.
  • Providing measures to reduce exposure.
  • Ensuring protective measures are being used.
  • Providing information, instruction, training or supervision.

Institutions working with fluids containing formaldehyde or glutaraldehyde will require specialist safety advice.

In the UK, employers that use, store or transport substances that are explosive, oxidising or flammable must comply with the Dangerous Substances & Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR) 2002.

Museums must seek professional advice should they intend to keep significant quantities of flammable spirit collections in their premises.

Spirit collections of human tissue may be subject to the Human Tissue Act 2004.