1. Health and Safety Committee
  2. First Aid stations
  3. Reporting accidents
  4. Emergency response guidelines
  5. Accidents in undergraduate labs
  6. Personal safety
  7. Where to get Material Safety Data Sheets
  8. Disposal of chemical waste
  9. Small chemical spills
  10. Food
  11. Contact lenses
  12. Laboratory coats
  13. Doors propped or wedged open
  14. Autoclaves
  15. How To Increase The Flow in a Fume Hood
  16. Centrifuges
  17. Microorganisms
  18. Radiation Safety

Current Revision: July 15, 2022. (LAM)

Environmental Health and Safety web site: www.ehs.utoronto.ca

Working with Biohazardous Materials?
Check out — Biosafety Program web site


1. Health and Safety Committee for Ramsay Wright (Top)

Benjamin Eldridge Manager Co-Chair
Sergey Plotnikov Management Member
Arneet Saltzman Management Member
Lisa Matchett Worker Co-Chair (USW)
Henry Hong Worker Member (USW)
Kamnoosh Shahabi Worker Member (USW)
Donna Wheeler Worker Member (USW)
David Green CUPE 3902 Worker Member

The most current meeting minutes are posted on the 4th floor H&S board. Copies of older meeting minutes are available on request from Lisa Matchett.

.2. First Aid Stations (Top)
First aid kits are located near the elevators on each floor from the first to the sixth floors, inclusive. The first aid kit for the basement is located in the hallway across from room RW 032. 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 a First Aid Rep. 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.The CSB RW Joint Health and Safety Committee recommended acquiring an Automatic External Defibrillator. One was purchased by the Department of CSB and it is available in the hallway outside of RW 401 in case of a suspected sudden cardiac arrest. The full list of trained First Aid Responders is posted on each health and safety board, beside each First Aid kit. These staff members have volunteered to assist when needed. Campus Police can also be phoned to assist securing the scene or with first aid. From an inside line call 8-2222 (urgent), or 8-2323 (non-urgent). From a cell phone call (416) 978-2222, or (416) 978-2323.If it is a critical situation or a true emergency, then 911 should always be called first.

3. Reporting accidents (Top)
Any accidents or injuries must be reported online through EHS.https://ehs.utoronto.ca/report-an-incident/

4. Emergency response guidelines (Top)
EHS has information to cover all emergencies on their website. https://ehs.utoronto.ca/

Emergency contact stickers for your phone are available in the 4th floor mail room or from Lisa in RW 229 (416-978-3138).

5. Accidents in undergraduate labs (Top)
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. https://ehs.utoronto.ca/resources/

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), RW207B, RW219 and RW229 (8-3138) if you need additional help.

Incident report forms must be filled out and filed within 24 hours of the incident. Forms are provide online at this link: https://ehs.utoronto.ca/report-an-incident/

All employees including T.A.’s must take the basic health and safety training course by EHS. It is an online course. https://ehs.utoronto.ca/training/

All technicians and faculty must have WHMIS training and this must be documented with the date the training was completed by your supervisor. Anyone working with Biological materials must also take the Biosafety course from EHS. New employees including summer students must complete the online courses as soon as possible after their date of hire.

6. Personal safety (Top)
 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 which room you plan to be working in.

7. Materials Safety Data Sheets (Top)
WHMIS has changed to GHS (Globally Harmonized System for Classification and Labeling of Chemicals). Check the health and safety boards and elevator bulletin boards for more information or check out www.whmis.gc.caSDS (Safety Data Sheets), formerly called MSDS 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 SDS. https://ehs.utoronto.ca/whmis-guidelines/

Make sure everyone in your lab is aware of this website to access SDS’s. Using online SDS eliminates the need for your lab to have a binder full of paper SDS sheets that has to be updated every 3 years. Online Safety Data Sheets are valid as long as everyone can easily get to the website and SDS contained within it. You may still wish to print certain SDS, but it will now be at your discretion and not required for the annual health and safety building inspections.

8. Disposal of chemical waste (Top)
 All chemicals designated for disposal have to be LABELED with special chemical waste labels. Liquid chemical waste should be contained in leak-proof bottles or jars. Gels should be collected in a labeled green bucket. Solid chemically contaminated waste should be collected in a bucket for disposal in the chemical waste drum in the Chemical Waste Storage Room. Green buckets are also available from the Chemical Waste Storage Room or call the Chem Tech at 978-4821. Buckets can be reused, but if it becomes dirty or odorous, use it for chemical waste and leave in the Waste Storage Room for disposal. Get the key from 401 to access the room.

For larger quantities that can not be safely transported downstairs (such as lab decommissioning), call the U of T Hazardous Chemical Control at 8-7000 and they will bring a large drum to your lab.

Mixed Waste
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 Manual from the Office of Environmental Safety.
Do not use the yellow pails with the stamped “Biohazard” symbol for chemical waste or radioactive waste. These are processed separately and only for use by CL2 labs. Chemically contaminated sharps are collected separately.

Do not put sharps (glass pipettes, broken glass, needles, razor blades, etc.) in the regular garbage.

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 contaminated with chemicals, radioactivity or biohazards are  collected in large recycling toters located near the elevators on each floor. Use the orange toter for plastic and the teal toter for clear glass. Everything should be triple rinsed. Small items like pipette tips are bulk rinsed.

Do not put gloves, styrofoam or other materials in the toters.
Note that brown or amber glass goes in the large green bin or the brown toter in the loading dock.

Biohazardous Waste
Recycling or regular garbage for Bio Level 1
Plastic or glass 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 required for bacterial cultures on petri plates as an extra precaution using the 3rd floor autoclave ONLY. Place the clear autoclave bag (open at the top) in the deep tray provided to contain the waste.

Yellow Biohazardous Buckets or Bags for Bio Level 2 are issued by U of T EPS  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.

Need Help?
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. Small quantities of chemical waste labels and black chemical waste buckets are usually available in the RW Chemical Waste Storage Room. If you have questions about what can go into the recycling toters, or to obtain toters for inside your lab room, call 946-5711. To have a full toter replaced, call 978-6252

9. Small chemical spills (Top)
Chemical spill kits are to be used only for VERY SMALL spills. In the CSB teaching labs, clean up kits are located in the cupboard under the phone in a blue 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 USource. 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: 416-978-2222

DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CLEAN UP THE SPILL YOURSELF.https://ehs.utoronto.ca/report-an-incident/emergency-procedures/chemical-spill-procedures/

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 a big 1L squirt bottle of sterile water or saline. These are available for purchase through USource. As the building is renovated, new labs needing eye washes will have them plumbed in.

This webpage details the use of eye washes and safety showers in case of chemical spills on the body: https://ehs.utoronto.ca/report-an-incident/emergency-procedures/chemical-spills-on-body/

This webpage is a good summary of the information about safety showers and spills at U of T: https://ehs.utoronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Emergency-Eyewash-and-Shower-Standard.pdf

10. Food (Top)
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.

11. Contact lenses (Top)
Contact lenses should be worn when other forms of corrective eye wear are not suitable. Always wear safety glasses, goggles or a face shield in case of splash hazards, to prevent chemicals from getting between the lens and your eye.

12. Laboratory coats (Top)
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, such as the office. Laboratory coats are to be worn INSIDE the laboratory or between labs, but removed when leaving the work area.

13. Doors propped or wedged open (Top)
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.

14. Autoclaves (Top)
All users are required to take our autoclave training course before using the autoclaves. The autoclave training course is now offered online with in person support when required. To enroll into this course please contact Reta Aram
The course is detailed and informative, however, do 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.
Contact personnel for the autoclaves are Qian (Jane) Guo (email) and Reta Aram (email) phone (office):416-978-3138
If neither Qian (Jane) nor Reta are available, go to RW401 for help. After hours call 978-3000 (engineers/repairs) or the Campus Police at 978-2323.


  • 3rd Floor Room RW319 – three sterilizers for all size loads Gravity, Vacuum, Liquid, and RG1 Biological waste. AMSCO machine is the only one to be used for sterilizing Risk Group 1 biological waste.
  • 5th Floor Room RW523 – portable autoclave for small loads. NO WASTE. This autoclave is self-contained, so it functions even when building steam is off.

Booking for all autoclaves is online. You will receive a user name and password when you take the mandatory training course. The URL is http://equipment.csb.utoronto.ca
Treat our shared equipment with care!

15. How To Increase Air Flow In Fume Hood (Top)
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, which is indicated by a green sticker on the sash. Keep your fume hood sash at the level recommended by EHS.

16. Centrifuges (Top)
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 trunions 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.

Centrifuge safety:

  • 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.

17. Safety procedures involving microorganisms (Top)
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 the 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.

18. Radiation Safety (Top)

  • 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 available from the EHS. Consult their webpage for dates of upcoming training sessions.
  • 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.