Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Postgraduate Demonstrators


School of Engineering



1. Responsibilities

Postgraduates who are paid to supervise or 'demonstrate' laboratory work are considered as 'employees' under the Health and Safety at Work Act and are therefore subject to the appropriate regulations under health and safety law i.e:

It shall be the duty of every employee while at work:

  1. to take reasonable care for the health and safety of him/herself and of other persons who may be affected by his acts or omissions at work; and
  2. as regards any duty or requirement imposed on his employer or any other person by or under any of the relevant statutory provisions, to co-operate with him so far as is necessary to enable that duty or requirement to be performed or complied with.
In addition, no person shall intentionally or recklessly interfere with or misuse anything provided in the interests of health, safety or welfare in pursuance of any of the relevant statutory provisions.

In terms of Postgraduate Demonstrators' health and safety responsibility to students, it is recognised that they are not a replacement for a lecturer. Their role is to assist the Laboratory Supervisor by informing and assisting other students complete their practical work. Postgraduate Demonstrators will have been selected for this role based on their competence, attitude and aptitude. They have a general duty of care under common law to ensure that their actions, and the actions of others do NOT put persons, equipment or the buildings at risk so far as reasonably practicable.

2. Training

Postgraduates supervising laboratories MUST have appropriate training. Attendance on the "introduction to teaching course" is the minimum required and in addition the emergency first aid course and fire extinguisher training are also recommended.

3. Laboratory Procedure

The Postgraduate Demonstrator will familiarise him/herself with the pratical work being undertaken by undergraduates and be aware of any deviations from the scheme of work. This may be by way of reading through the safe system of work, (or sometimes called method statement, safe operating instructions/procedures or just the methodology) and associated risk assessments that have been drafted for the practical work beforehand and discussing these with the Laboratory Supervisor, Technical Services staff or member of staff from the Health and Safety Department where necessary. Sometimes it may also be advisable to run through a practical exercise first to understand it fully.

It is important that the Postgraduate Demonstrator understands:

  • what is meant to happen
  • what could go wrong
  • what control measures are required to minimise any risks (and to ensure that these are in place prior to the practical laboratory session)
  • how to manage any foreseeable situations/conditions or emergencies associated with the laboratory exercise

Passing information relating to health and safety on to students carrying out the practical exercise will improve the students understanding of the exercise and the management of risk.

If deviations do occur, or students are working in an unsafe manner ALL undergraduates working in the laboratory MUST be stopped from working and the implications of the actions pointed out. The Laboratory Supervisor must be informed should this occur to either determine the best course of action or to advise them that issues were found during the session.

Where malicious intent is perceived an academic should be informed and the offender(s) removed.

No undergraduates are to be left working alone in a laboratory/workshop.

Ensure that the laboratory is left in a condition that you would like to have found it.

Ensure that you know how to deal with any spillage, any waste generated or equipment/apparatus that needs to be left out or running.

4. Emergency Procedures

The postgraduate must familiarise him/herself with all fire escape route prior to the session and if the fire alarm sounds evacuate the laboratory quickly and quietly.

In the case of emergencies-

  • Stop ALL laboratory activities
  • If necessary evacuate the laboratory/workshop and assemble with the group of students at the assembly point
  • Dial 22222 on an internal phone for assistance
  • Contact the academic in charge and a first aider if required
  • DO NOT attempt to fight a fire unless trained
  • Report any incidents, near misses or accidents online and to your Supervisor