QRIC Safety Spotlight: Will Henderson


Will Henderson is part of QRIC’s team of chemists, charged with testing samples taken from racing animals for prohibited substances.

Will works in the laboratory at the Racing Science Centre (RSC), where scientists use a variety of technologies and methods for testing.

Chemicals are the main risk to the RSC’s scientists, who work with a lot of different chemicals as part of the testing process.

“Some of the chemicals we work with are fairly nasty. We mitigate the risk by ensuring that everyone who comes to work at the lab is inducted before they start, and by wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE),” said Will.

This includes safety glasses, lab coats, and appropriate gloves. Sometimes, special gloves need to be used when working with certain chemicals or other substances. For example, disposable rubber gloves cannot be worn when working with anything hot, as the gloves may melt.

It is not just the chemicals that make the RSC a hazardous environment. There are gas lines and gas bottles under pressure, and chemists are required to enter a -20 degree freezer, which is used for the long-term storage of samples.

“Because of the risk associated with parts of the lab, if someone is going out of sight or going into the -20 degree freezer, there is a buddy system, so that someone always knows where that person is.

“If someone has gone out of sight and isn’t back within 10 minutes, their buddy knows to raise an alert.

“Staff also always have a personal alarm when they are going into the freezer, because it is not a place where we want anyone to get stuck.”

It is Will’s job to do a safety inspection at the end of every day, looking for hazards across the lab.

‘We also do a lot of general manual handling, including picking up boxes of samples and supplies and putting them on the shelves,” Will said.

“We have to make sure we’re following proper lifting procedures, so that we’re taking care of our backs, and we take care not to lift boxes onto high shelves.”

As part of the sample testing process, chemists must sometimes do repetitive work.

“We know to stop and move around every once in a while, to take a break and rest our bodies.

“If you’ve been sitting down doing something repetitive for a long time, you stop and do something else for a bit.”