Safety in the lab
For our project we worked in the Sir Martin Evans building in a communal lab. In order to work here we had to pass the University mandated GMO safety course, a one day event which covered the basics to work safely with GMOs, and how to set up a safe working space.
Safety in the real world
Initially in our project we planned a workshop at a local science amusement center called 'Techniquest', which used dead GMO material, which we believed would satisfy the H&S requirements. However, on consulting our H&S officer at the University we were prevented from doing so, on grounds that any GMO material alive or dead can only be used in an approved space, of which Techniquest was not one. This did rattle our Outreach efforts somewhat - 2 weeks of planning down the drain but it shows how easy it can be to make assumptions - in order to even be near our materials we had a specialized lab and hours of GMO training and risk assessments, but with all of this it can easily be taken for granted. Not only must there be trained staff on hand, the venue must be equipped to deal with whatever may arise, hence why it was easy from a H&S standpoint to use our workshop at a STEM day in our lab building, but to bring GMO material across town to a public area which doesnt have autoclavers, fume hoods, biohazard waste protocols or pretty much anything required for safe usage of lab kit made the venue nonviable.
The event itself gave the Outreach team a wake-up call: they had the same training as the wet lab team, so there was identified to be a need of greater communication between both teams to ensure all appropriate steps were taken for safety.