Health & Safety Information
- Health and Safety Committee
- First Aid stations
- Reporting accidents
- Emergency response guidelines
- Accidents in undergraduate labs
- Personal safety
- Where to get Material Safety Data Sheets
- Disposal of chemical waste
- Small chemical spills
- Contact lenses
- Laboratory coats
- Doors propped or wedged open
- How To Increase The Flow in a Fume Hood
- Radiation Safety
Current Revision: May 13, 2013. (LAM)
U. OF T. H&S MAIN LINK
Working with Biohazardous Materials?
Check out -- Biosafety Program web site
Tamar Mamourian, Management Co-Chair
Lisa Matchett, Worker Co-chair
Dr. Tony Harris, Management Member
Henry Hong, Worker Member
Peggy Salmon, Worker Member
Donna Wheeler, Worker Member
Suzi Atkinson, CUPE Local 3261 Member
Natalie Jones, CUPE Local 3902 Member, EEB
The most current meeting minutes are available online. The file is at the bottom of this page in PDF form. Copies of older meeting minutes are available on request to Lisa Matchett.
First aid kits are located near the elevators on each floor from the first to the sixth inclusive. The first aid kit for the basement is located outside the Stores, RW 033. Many of the teaching laboratories also have their own first aid kits. These kits are checked and stocked by a staff member 4 times a year as required by Ontario WSIB.
Please remember these kits are for emergencies, so if you need more than a band-aid, you will need to fill out an incident report form within 24 hours detailing the accident or injury. Forms are submitted online through the EHS website as detailed below. Please also inform Tamar Mamourian. This is to ensure that the proper supplies are in the kit if a real emergency happens.
Research labs are to provide their own kits and restock the kits themselves.
A list of staff trained in First Aid is located on the bulletin board beside each First Aid kit.
NEW: The RW Joint Health and Safety Committee recommended acquiring an Automatic External Defibrillator. One was purchased by the Department of CSB and it is now available in RW 401 in case of emergency.
Any accidents or injuries must be reported online through EHS. Please fill out the appropriate form on the right hand side of the EHS page.
In the back of U. of T. Directory, see the Emergency Responses and Safety Tips section. This section offers advice and guidelines on procedures to follow in the event of an emergency on campus. These response guidelines are designed to prepare University faculty, staff and students for Campus emergencies. While the guide does not cover every situation, it does supply the basic guidelines to cope with most Campus emergencies. Booklets to hang up in your lab are available from Campus Police (call to ask for one at 416-978-2323) or from Lisa in RW 312 (416-978-3138).
Please ensure that you familiarize yourself with these pages, knowing the response to a given emergency may assist in preventing injuries and saving lives.
A course supervisor is responsible for the safety of their course technicians, TA's and undergraduate students. Everyone must be made aware of any potential hazard in laboratory procedures and in use of chemicals, and they must know what to do in case of an accident.
In case of fire or accident, contact 9-911, then call U of T Police at 416-978-2222 to report the incident. Have someone meet the ambulance at the lobby to direct them to the ill/injured person. Technical staff trained in first aid are located in RW136 (8-2508) and RW312 (8-3138) if you need additional help.
Incident report forms must be filled out and filed within 24 hours of the incident. Forms are provided in the MSDS binders in the teaching labs or online at this link: http://www.ehs.utoronto.ca/resources/wcbproc.htm
All technicians and faculty must have had WHMIS training and this must be documented with the date the training was completed by your supervisor. New employees including summer students must attend the course closest to their date of hire. There is a new online course available as well.
When working alone, on weekends, evenings or nights, keep your room door closed and locked. It is a good idea to let someone know that you intend to work alone - late. You can also let the U of T Police (8-2323) know the room that you plan to work in.
MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) are provided by suppliers when you first order materials (Keep these where the materials are being used). All chemicals used in the laboratory must be accompanied by MSDS.
U of T is now using ChemWatch. Add this link to your bookmarks on all lab computers.
Make sure everyone in your lab is aware of this website to access MSDS's. Using ChemWatch eliminates the need for your lab to have a binder full of paper MSDS sheets that has to be updated every 3 years as long as everyone can easily get to the website and MSDS contained within it. You may still wish to print certain MSDS, but it will now be at your discretion and not required for the annual health and safety inspections.
Small quantities of chemical waste can be taken to Terry in Stores (RW033) for disposal. All chemicals designated for disposal have to be LABELED with special chemical waste labels. Waste can be disposed of in any container that doesn't leak and that has the chemical waste label properly filled out.
Large size and solid chemically contaminated waste should be collected in a bucket and taken to Terry (RW033) for disposal in the chemical waste drum in the outside waste storage room. Black Buckets are available from Terry or call the Chem Tech at 978-4821. Buckets can be reused, but if it becomes dirty or odorous, use it for true chemical waste or leave in the waste storage room for disposal.
For larger quantities that can not be safely transported downstairs (such as lab decommisioning), call the U of T Hazardous Chemical Control at 8-7000 and they will bring a large drum to your lab.
In case of mixed waste, the order of hierarchy is Radioactive, then Chemical, then Biohazard. So if you are disposing of something with both biological agents and chemicals in it, it would be disposed of as chemical waste. Ethidium Bromide is considered chemical waste. Toxins are considered chemical waste. This information is from the Biosafety 2007 Manual from the Office of Environmental Safety.
Do not put sharps (glass pipettes, broken glass, needles, razor blades, etc.) in the regular garbage. Do not use the yellow pails with the stamped "Biohazard" symbol for chemical waste or radioactive waste. These are processed separately. Chemically contaminated sharps are collected seperately, labeled as chemical waste and deposited in the chemical waste drums.
Needle and blade sharps must be separately and carefully collected in a yellow approved needle and blade waste container. When the sharps container is full, snap on the lid and phone EPS at 416-946-3473 to arrange for pick up.
Recycling Glass and Plastic
Any clean glassware or plastic that is not chemically contaminated, radioactive contaminated or biohazard contaminated is to be collected in large toters located near the elevators on each floor. Orange for plastic and teal for glass. Everything should be triple rinsed. Small items like pipette tips are bulk rinsed. (There is a special bucket for that in the 3rd floor autoclave room.)
Do not put gloves or styrofoam in the toters.
Amber glass goes in the large green bin in the loading dock.
Recycling toters for Level 1, Yellow Biohazardous Buckets for Level 2.
Biological material (eg. Petri dishes with cultures) and sharps or pipettes contaminated with biological waste from Biosafety Level 1 Labs is to be placed in recycling toters after being rinsed. Agar plates go in the garbage after autoclaving in the second floor autoclave. Sterilization is not required as Level 1 is no potential risk to humans, animals and the environment but the Ramsay Wright JHSC decided to implement the extra step for bacterial cultures on petri plates as an extra precaution. Clear autoclave bags are to be used to contain the waste.
Biosafety Containment Level 2 waste must be discarded in yellow Biohazardous buckets. Soft waste like gloves can be disposed of in autoclavable bags from MedStore, double bagged, twist tied shut and labeled with a completed BioWaste tag. Biohazard buckets will only be issued to level 2 labs. Buckets must be labeled with the BioWaste tags (includes room # and Biosafety Certificate Tag #) Buckets will be picked up from your lab once a week (Wednesdays) and sterilized. You will receive new buckets in exchange.
Any questions with respect to proper the disposal of chemical wastes should be directed to "hazardous chemical control section at 978-7000 or 978-4821. From Waste Disposal Office 8-4821, you can obtain waste containers (liquid and solids), and rolls of chemical waste labels. Stores (RW33) sometimes carries small quantities of chemical waste labels and black chemical waste buckets. Questions about the recycling toters or to obtain toters for inside your lab room call 946-5711. To have a full toter replaced, call 978-6252.
Chemical spill kits are to be used only for VERY SMALL spills. In the teaching labs, clean up kits are located under the sink in a white bucket. Research labs are responsible for supplying their own kits according to their needs. For example, if your lab uses acids, you need to have an "acid spill kit". There are also general spill kits available which have clean up supplies for a variety of situations. Spill kits are available through UShop. Find out where your lab kit is located before you need it.
If there is a MAJOR spill, get out of the lab and call 8-7000. After hours call Campus Emergency Control Centre:
DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CLEAN UP THE SPILL YOURSELF.
Complete instructions are here: http://www.ehs.utoronto.ca/resources/manindex/eps/emrgchm2.htm
Every lab needs to have an eye wash station. If there isn't one plumbed into your lab, you must have a portable one, which is like a big 1L squirt bottle of sterile saline or water. Those are available for purchase through UShop.
This webpage details the use of eye washes and safety showers in case of chemical spills on the body: http://www.ehs.utoronto.ca/resources/manindex/eps/emrgchm1.htm
This webpage gives a good summary of the information about safety showers and spills at U of T: www.ehs.utoronto.ca/Assts/ehs3/Chemical+Safety/Emergency+Eyewash+and+Shower+standard+2009.pdf
Drinking, eating or storing food in research labs or teaching labs is strictly forbidden. You may eat in your office, in the lunch room on the 4th floor or in the student lounge RW010. Fridges and microwaves must be kept designated as separate "food use" or "lab use".
There are no exceptions to this rule.
Contact lenses should be worn when other forms of corrective eyewear are not suitable. Always wear goggles in case of splash hazards to prevent chemicals from getting between the lens and your eye.
Lab coats are required by anyone working in a lab which uses chemicals and/or cultures microorganisms. Lab coats used in labs should not be worn in non-laboratory areas. Laboratory coats are to be worn INSIDE the laboratory BUT have to be removed when leaving the work area.
The Department provides a laundry service for all faculty, staff and graduate students. Take your dirty lab coats to the Stores in RW033 for laundering. Before handing in your coat to be laundered, make sure that your name is on it. Each person should have at least two lab coats. Dirty laundry is picked up every week or two weeks depending on demand.
Level II labs:
All lab coats worn by personnel in level II labs have to be AUTOCLAVED prior to handing them in to be laundered.
Propping or wedging open hallway doors is strictly prohibited by the Fire Code. Fire doors are installed to provide protection from smoke and flame in the event of a fire, and are required to be closed at all times.
All users are required to take our autoclave training course before using the autoclaves. Look for sign up sheets for the course posted in the autoclave rooms. Courses will be offered periodically (3 times a year - Jan, May, Sept).
Instructions are posted on the walls for the autoclave rooms, but please ask for help if you are not sure how to operate these machines or if there is any problem such as steam leaking out. The high pressure and steam can cause severe burns or an explosion if the door is not closed properly.
The contact for the autoclaves is Janet in RW 312, phone: 978-3138. Back up contact is Lisa at the same location and number. If neither Janet or Lisa are available, go to 401 for help. After hours call 978-3000 (engineers/repairs) or the Campus Police at 978-2323.
- 2nd Floor Room RW220 – for large loads and sterilizing level 1 petri plates/bacterial waste only
- 3rd Floor Room RW319 – for small loads
- 5th Floor Rooom RW523 - portable autoclave for small loads. Self-contained so it functions even when building steam is off.
Booking for all 3 autoclaves is online. You will receive a user name and password when you take the training course. The URL is http://equipment.csb.utoronto.ca
The intensity of air flow will increase as fume hood sash is RAISED. Fans, located in the ceiling, will then draw extra fresh air into the room in order to compensate for the increased air loss by way of the fume hood. Usually the sash is kept at 12-18” high. Fume hood function is tested once a year by the Office of Environmental Health and Safety at U of T.
Centrifuges are commonly used in biological research laboratories to separate cellular material from a suspending liquid medium. They can range from the small bench- models to the sophisticated ultracentrifuges. Low speed centrifuges can have a speed range of 2000-6000 rpm, while ultracentrifuges can run at 40,000-80,000 rpm. Needless to say, with components revolving at such high speeds, centrifuges constitute a potentially severe mechanical hazard. In addition, there are hazards which are related to the inherent toxicity of the material being centrifuged, such as with biohazardous or radioactive materials.
All centrifuge users must be trained in and be familiar with the safe operation of the equipment. Before using a particular centrifuge, the manufacturer's instructions for that model should be read and followed. Procedures for the safe operation of centrifuges include, but are not limited to, the following:
Ensure that the loaded rotor or buckets and trunnions are properly balanced each time it is used by loading multiple containers symmetrically in the rotor. In addition to the potential physical hazard, failure to balance the rotor correctly will greatly increase the wear on the drive system, and can cause extensive damage to the rotor and centrifuge. If you have an uneven number of samples, use a blank filled with water to balance the tubes.
All floor-standing centrifuges must be fitted with interlocks so that it is impossible to open the cover when the centrifuge is in operation. The newer models are built with interlocks. Many older models were not built with such protective devices, however, the Ministry of Labour requires these units (centrifuges) to be retrofitted with interlocks, prior to operation.
For bench-centrifuges not fitted with interlocks:
- Always close the centrifuge lid during operation.
- At the end of a run, do not open until the rotating head has come to rest.
- Never stop the rotor by hand or with an object.
- There must be a sign displaying the fact that units must not be opened until the rotating head has come to a complete stop.
- Do not leave the centrifuge until it has attained its full operating speed, in order to ensure that it is running without vibration. Stop the centrifuge immediately and check the load balances it vibration does occur.
- Do not exceed the safe maximum speed of the centrifuge as specified by the manufacturer. A particular rotor may also be derated, meaning that it cannot be run at its maximum speed. Derating is usually necessary for rotors which have completed a certain number of runs and accumulated a certain number of hours, for rotors which have become corroded, or for solutions with densities greater than 1.2 g/cm3.
- Clean rotors and buckets after use and dry thoroughly. Spillages can seriously weaken the rotor due to corrosion. Rotor components of low-speed centrifuges can be made of brass, steel, plastics or aluminum alloys. Ultracentrifuge rotors are usually made of aluminum or titanium alloys. An aluminum rotor can be easily corroded by acid or alkaline solutions but even solutions containing low concentrations of salts at neutral pH can break down the protective oxide film covering the surface of the rotor
- When centrifuging toxic materials, such as the case with biohazardous or radioactive samples, extreme caution must be taken to avoid contamination of the centrifuge as well as the laboratory:
- Use capped tubes to contain the samples and to prevent the escape of potentially hazardous aerosols.
- Use containers made of unbreakable material whenever possible.
- Carefully inspect the containers for cracks or flaws before using.
- Conduct regular inspection and testing for signs of contamination (e.g. swipe tests).
- Be aware of decontamination procedures which apply to the hazard(s) of your samples.
- Centrifuge biohazardous materials within sealed rotors or buckets. Load and unload these materials within the biosafety cabinet or chemical fumehood.
- Biocontainment features are commercially available for centrifuges; further information can be obtained from centrifuge manufacturers.
- Conduct regular maintenance, inspections and servicing of the centrifuge, as outlined in the manufacturer's instructions.
- Examine the centrifuge and its components regularly for signs of corrosion, cracks or undue wear.
Although you may not work with microorganisms in your own lab, you should be aware of safety procedures in dealing with microbes in general. The mammalian immune system is normally able to handle most microorganisms, including those that are potentially pathogenic. However, there are two hazards that must be avoided:
- Persons with diseases that affect the immune system are at risk in handling normally non-pathogenic microorganisms. If you believe that you have such a condition you should consult your physician and you will be excused from the laboratory exercises using microorganisms.
- Living cultures of "harmless" microorganisms can become invaded or colonized by pathogenic ones. Although this is unlikely it is always safest to treat all microorganisms as potentially pathogenic.
All persons working with microorganisms must observe the following rules
- Clothing coming in contact with microorganisms should be removed and washed. The best way to avoid the embarrassment of leaving crucial pieces of clothing behind in the lab is to wear a lab coat. Lab coats are required for these exercises and should be washed frequently using our laundry service.
- Never touch living microorganisms with any part of your body. If you do come in contact with microorganisms wash the affected part thoroughly in soap and water.
- Keep laboratory doors closed.
- Never eat or drink in the laboratory.
- Wash your hands before leaving the laboratory. Do not wear gloves in the halls and when moving between lab rooms. If you must wear one glove, do not use that hand to open doors due to contamination concerns.
- Report any spills to an instructor so that they can be cleaned and disinfected.
- Never leave microbial cultures open to the air: keep them covered at all times. Many microorganisms can become airborne and inhaled.
- Sterilize all implements that you have used to handle microorganisms. You will be instructed in how this is done.
- Place all used microscope slides in the jars of disinfectant provided.
- Place all culture vessels away from the edge of the lab bench and away from areas where they could be knocked over.
- Use the yellow buckets stamped with the Biohazard Symbol and labelled "Biohazard" to dispose of your waste. Do not use plain buckets.
- Anyone working with radioactive material needs to have their own radiation monitoring badge. These are available from the University of Toronto Environmental Health and Safety department.
- Training is also available from the EHS-consult their webpage for dates of upcoming training sessions. It is highly recommended that you take this training. http://www.ehs.utoronto.ca/services/radiation.htm
- No food or drinks are allowed in the lab.
- Wash your hands and remove your lab coat before leaving the lab.
- Clean up any spills promptly.
- Keep door closed and locked at all times for security.