Research Support Services Directorate

The mission of the Research Support Services Directorate (RSSD), when it comes to laboratories, is to assist the scientific, technical and laboratory staff to maintain a high standard of quality in the laboratories across the University.

To this end training courses in relation to the laboratory setting are being offered. If you are interested in attending for training and no planned training dates are listed in the calendar kindly contact RSSD.


Chemical Handling Course

Trainers: Mr Francis Micallef, Specto Limited
Target Audience: Members of staff handling chemicals within the laboratory settings
Duration of Course : 16 hours    

The idea behind this course is to give an overview on chemical handling to technical operatives working in University of Malta laboratories. It will cover areas of importance in chemical legislation, occupational health and safety issues, sources of information, chemical handling and waste management. There will also be an element of practical approaches with regards to spill control and incident response. The capacity building and the increased awareness should assist operatives to better approach the lab reagents they handle, thus reducing risks related to exposure to, and handling of, such chemicals. The course has been designed with inputs from local and EU technical people, including the technical team that has carried out the two cleanup campaigns at the University and technical people from the disposal site which will eventually treat the lab reagents.

The course will be spread over 16 hours and is split into four modules each consisting of a four-hour session. The course is structured in an interactive way, with a mix of theoretical and practical sessions. Participants will be required to attend for all the four modules in order to successfully complete the course and receive a certificate. 

Module One: Chemicals and their Hazards – Sources of information

The danger of lack of awareness
CLP and REACH directives
The Safety data sheet
Hazard classifications
Understanding labels
Hazard and Precautionary Statements 

Module Two: Understanding Hazards and Risks

The Risk Assessment

Measures to Mitigate Risk
Personal Protective Equipment
Embracing an OHS ethic

Module Three: Laboratory Health and Safety

Good laboratory Practice
Spill control
Basics of Incident response
Intelligent segregation and Storage of Chemicals

Module Four: Waste Management in the Laboratory

Handling of waste streams (with focus on specific streams)
Safe Management of Waste storage areas
Waste disposal options
Applying Waste management issues to the lab (waste reduction, safe procedures, duty of care)
Embracing a Waste management system

Specto Ltd has been involved in technical consultancies in the fields of Environmental and Waste Management, Occupational Heath and Safety and Chemical Handling for the past 17 years. Allying itself with important strategic partners in Europe, it was the first company in Malta which acted as a broker in the shipment of waste out of Malta to approved sites in Europe. This remains one of its core activities and to date Specto Ltd has shipped out over 5000 tons of hazardous wastes ranging from Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment, to sludges, to pharmaceutical waste, laboratory waste and other waste streams. Specto Ltd offers technical consultancy and training in its areas of competence and has already carried out a lab reagent cleanup campaign at the University of Malta in 2015. Now carrying out its second campaign, the current training course extracts important issues that have arisen during these two campaigns to give further added value and relevance to the training course in hand.


Management of the Asset Inventory module in AIMS

Trainers: Mr Pierre Micallef & Ing Carolina Sofia
Target Audience: All members assigned with roles of Responsible Person and Maintenance Staff Leader
Duration of Session: 2 hours    

The University of Malta is currently in the process of creating an inventory of all assets purchased for use in the Research and Teaching Labs, both on campus and in its off-site institutes. All data is being uploaded in the Asset Inventory module on AIMS whereby each item will have a unique identification number and a record with its related information including location, product details, servicing and calibration history amongst other relevant data. Following complication and prior to entry of all data in AIMS, personnel for the two key roles who will manage the inventory were identified, depending on the specific labs/areas concerned.

The Responsible Person will have editing rights for 6 flexi-fields with the responsibility to ensure that any changes related to the asset's location, operations, write-off, Health & Safety Risk Assessment, loan history and other additional information are updated in real time. 

The Maintenance Staff Leader will have rights to edit some fields of the record within their responsibility for two (2) specific tabs in the AIMS inventory module related to calibration and maintenance activities.  

The scope of this training is mainly twofold:

  1. to outline the responsibilities of these two key roles with a live practical demonstration on how to edit the respective tabs, if the necessity arises and whenever there is a change in the status of the asset in question.
  2. to give an overview and understand how the Inventory Asset module is integrated in the process flow and cycle from time of purchase until write-off.

This session will also provide the opportunity to address any queries related to the management of the module and to clarify any technical implementation issues related to the software.


Chemical Hazardous Waste Management SOP

Target Audience: Members of staff working in the laboratory setting and generating chemical waste
This training is compulsory for all laboratory staff.
Duration of Session: 3 hours 
Standard Operating Procedure  

With over 300 laboratory spaces within the University of Malta, majority of which generate chemical waste, a standard operating procedure has been designed to streamline the management of this waste. The purpose of the procedure is to ensure that hazardous chemical waste generated is properly and safely managed, from the time it is generated, through handling, storage, and preparation for transportation.

Chemical waste can take various forms such as discarded commercial chemical products, solvents and mixtures of chemicals, oils, heavy metals, inorganic and organic solids and liquids, expired medication as well as active pharmaceutical ingredients (API), excipients and finished pharmaceutical dosage forms.

The management of waste in laboratories is essential to ensure the safety of personnel and ensure proper segregation, handling and storage of chemicals to avoid any sort of potential risk by reaction.

The University requires all staff, students and third parties making use of the University’s premises to comply with this procedure. 

The aim of this training session is to help staff familiarize themselves with and implement the standard operating procedure on Chemical Hazardous Waste issued by the University. The training session will entail a review of each section of the SOP together with relevant workshops. For this reason, all attendees are requested to bring a printed copy of the SOP including appendices with them. A soft copy of the SOP can be downloaded here.  

Chemical Hazardous Waste Management - new updates implemented

Trainer: Mr Pierre Micallef 
Target Audience: Members of staff identified by the Research Support Services Directorate (RSSD)
Duration of Session: 2 hours 
Standard Operating Procedure  

A new revision of the SOP for Chemical Hazardous Waste Management (ZRH-007-01) has been recently implemented.  Among the changes from the previous version and also as already informed through previous communications, is the mandatory new procedure and requirement to start using the electronic Waste Register on Google Drive. Each entity (F/C/I/S) will have access to their own shared folder which  will  serve as an on-online repository  for all documentation  generated related to chemical waste thereby facilitating the process of submissions every  6 months. This major change together with an overview of the other salient amendments will be explained in more detail during this training session. All chemical waste RPs are strongly encouraged to attend this training session  and familiarize themselves with the new SOP to  ensure full alignment with the current procedure since no  waste generated will be collected in future campaigns other than that listed in the new e-registers. 

Basic Chemistry Course

Trainers: Mr David Farrugia and Mr Mark Zerafa
Target Audience: Non-chemists working in a laboratory environment and handling chemicals as well as staff with a chemistry background wishing to refresh their memory on basic chemistry concepts.  
Course duration: 16 hours 

The University of Malta houses approximately 300 laboratories on and off campus. These include teaching, research and servicing labs. The nature of the work varies from purely chemical to industrial engineering, heritage conservation and medical just to mention a few. The expertise of technical staff is therefore vast and specialised to their line of work. However, quite a few members of technical staff have requested basic chemistry training since chemicals play an important part in the majority of laboratory settings.   

The aim of this training course is to help you familiarise yourself with practical, basic chemistry concepts. For this reason, the course has been designed to cover topics which you could put to use in your day to day chemistry related duties. In fact, the queries raised by technical staff members via correspondence and feedback given to HR and RSSD have helped formulate the course content.   

The course will entail both theoretical sessions together with class exercises as well as hands on practical sessions in the laboratory. By the end of the course you will be in a position to understand the following basic principles:
  • The basic unit of a chemical: the atom
  • States of matter: solid, liquid and gas
  • Difference between: Atom, ion, element, molecule, compound, mixture
  • Difference between: Metallic, ionic and covalent bonding
  • The Periodic Table: Chemical symbols and formulae
  • Difference between: Relative Atomic Mass (RAM) and Relative Molecular Mass (RMM)
  • Counting unit in Chemistry: The Mole and using this unit in calculations to prepare solutions. 
  • Types of reactions: Exothermic, Endothermic, synthesis, decomposition, combustion, neutralisation
  • Preparation of solutions and serial dilution
  • Acid vs Base, pH, performing neutralization reaction
  • Classifying chemicals you encounter in your lab: pure vs impure, homogenous vs heterogenous, organic vs inorganic, halogenated vs non-halogenated, metals vs non-metals, oils, aromatics, polymers
  • Interpretation of chemical bottle labels