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Laboratory Safety

Toronto Metropolitan University is committed to upholding the highest standards when it comes to maintaining a safe and healthy learning and work environment for all of its community members, including students, faculty, and staff working in laboratories across the university.

As a research-intensive university, our campus supports a number of active research and teaching laboratories. These laboratories could pose safety concerns that may include, but are not limited to, chemical, biological and physical hazards (which includes ergonomics, machinery, radiation and more). The university has comprehensive safety programs on all these risks.

This section provides some overarching guidance for TMU laboratory users on important elements of laboratory safety, including:

  • university policies and procedures as they pertain to environmental health and safety in laboratory settings;
  • regulatory requirements and mandatory standards as they relate to laboratory operations and design;
  • instructions and guidelines on how to obtain permits to reach requirements set by external governmental agencies and ensure accountability;
  • resources and best practices on standard operating procedures including laboratory setup, equipment inventory management and more;
  • training opportunities and site-specific procedures required to operate in laboratories and empower users to practice safety; and
  • ways to get support from TMU’s Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) team.

Laboratory Safety Manual

In the interest of ensuring that students, faculty, and staff are able to work and learn in a safe environment, EHS has provided an easily accessible manual for all students, faculty, and staff at TMU. The  (google doc) Laboratory Safety Manual (external link, opens in new window) , available to TMU students, faculty and staff members, should be used as your reference for all health and safety and the policies pertaining to research and teaching laboratories at Toronto Metropolitan University. It includes:

  • recommended laboratory design and construction;
  • general laboratory safety protocol;
  • required personal protective equipment (PPE) for laboratories;
  • laboratory equipment and standard operating procedures;
  • electrical safety requirements in labs;
  • proper use of compressed gases and cryogenics;
  • how to manage hazardous waste;
  • laboratory decommissioning procedures;
  • emergency response required for specific laboratories; and
  • laboratory inspection protocol.

Standard operating procedures in laboratories

Because each laboratory is different, and processes change routinely, teams are responsible for  maintaining laboratory safety information and documentation. The Principal Investigator or designated Laboratory Supervisor is responsible for documenting current laboratory-specific information including:

  • any required entry protocols;
  • the proper use and care of personal protective equipment;
  • procedures for processes that use hazardous substances; and
  • procedures for the proper use and maintenance of emergency or safety equipment.

 (google doc) Laboratory Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) (external link, opens in new window)  are written instructions that detail the steps to be performed during a given experimental procedure and include information about potential hazards and how these hazards will be mitigated. SOPs should be written by laboratory personnel who are most knowledgeable and involved with the experimental process.

In order to help laboratory users with developing operational procedures for common processes and equipment care and use, EHS has developed a series of standardized SOPs. Laboratory Supervisors and users can follow these SOPs or customise them to match the specifics of their laboratory. For additional support in the development or assessment of SOPs applicable to the laboratory including commissioning, please contact EHS at or 416-979-5000, ext. 553770.

Training is a core component of lab safety

With a wide range of hazards present in laboratories, EHS offers general and hazard-specific training in a variety of formats  to supplement the information provided here. Training is a key component of laboratory safety and is mandatory for all users before they can begin work.

Getting started

Laboratory supervisors setting up a new laboratory should be familiar with the general requirements of the Laboratory Safety Program by reviewing the components of the  (google doc) Laboratory Safety Manual (external link, opens in new window) . For additional information on laboratory-specific hazards, visit the additional program pages linked below:

Lab decommissioning

Facilities such as labs and workshops that will be vacated due to a partial or complete renovation, a lab move or the retirement of a principal investigator, will require proper facility decommissioning to assure new tenants or contractors that the space is safe for entry or re-occupancy. This also includes any associated research or teaching areas and equipment such as storage rooms, fridges and freezers, etc. 

The facility and any remaining equipment must be properly closed out to also ensure that it is free from any hazardous materials. Additionally, any facility-associated permits issued by EHS or Facilities Management and Development would need to be archived or reassigned. TMU’s  (google doc) Facility Decommissioning (external link)  procedure outlines the necessary steps to take to effectively close out and decommission university spaces to minimize the need for costly emergency decommissioning of facilities.