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Chemical Safety

Chemicals are used across Ryerson University for both research and teaching applications. Chemical safety has many scientific and technical components, and some chemicals have the potential to cause harm. As such, it is critical to ensure the safe management of chemical materials including use, acquisition, storage, inventory management and disposal.

Ryerson’s Chemical Safety Program, administered by the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) chemicals and controlled products manager, was developed to:

  • assist and improve user knowledge;
  • ensure the safe handling of chemicals;
  • meet regulatory compliance; and
  • protect students, faculty, staff and visitors from damaging exposure to hazardous chemicals.

Training

Training is a key component of the Chemical Safety Program and is mandatory for all students, faculty and staff to ensure safe chemical practices prior to the start of work.

Comprehensive, online training in Chemical Safety and WHMIS is available to anyone planning to work in an environment where hazardous materials will be used. If you are currently in an area that uses compressed gas cylinders, you will also be required to take the Compressed Gases Safety Awareness training.

To access the trainings, follow these steps:  

Step 1: Sign up for a Learner Profile

To sign up for either trainings, follow these enrollment instructions.

Step 2: Complete the training in D2L

Chemical Safety and WHMIS training takes approximately 90 minutes to complete and is comprised of eight modules.

Compressed Gases Safety Awareness training takes approximately 45 minutes to complete and is comprised of four modules.

At the end of the training modules, there are quizzes to test participants on what they have learned.

Safety Data Sheet Management System (Chemwatch)

Under WHMIS, it is mandatory that all products classified as “hazardous” are accompanied by a Safety Data Sheet (SDS). SDSs provide detailed information about the physical, chemical and toxicological properties and hazards of the hazardous materials, as well as recommended handling and emergency procedures. Chemwatch is a program used by Ryerson that provides access to SDSs and to WHMIS labels. SDSs can be found online using any computer on campus by accessing the external,Chemwatch SDS Database.

Note: The Chemwatch SDS Database link should be bookmarked on all lab and office computers used by lab participants. It does not require a username or password to access, but you must be on campus (i.e. Ryerson IP address) for the link to work.

Instructions for using Chemwatch and an explanation of the features offered are outlined in this external,video tutorial.

To further understand the risks associated with your chemicals, SDSs must be consulted and retained in your lab.  

Getting started

Receiving hazardous materials  

Shipping and Receiving at Ryerson maintains a central receiving dock at 105 Bond Street, where all goods must be received. Shipping and Receiving receives, sorts and delivers all goods — including couriered and bulk deliveries — on a regularly scheduled basis to all departments and buildings.

If you need to transport chemicals between labs in non-connecting buildings or off-campus, please contact the chemicals and controlled products manager at 416-979-5000, ext. 553773, or ehs@ryerson.ca for more information.

Transporting chemicals off-campus must be done in compliance with specific Federal Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) regulations. If you complete this function then you are required to have TDG training.

Ryerson Lab at MaRS
Hazardous materials destined for the Ryerson Lab at MaRS are sent directly to the MaRS Discovery District, West Tower at 661 University Ave, 11th floor.

Managing inventory

The university has recently completed the full implementation of a hazardous materials inventory system called HECHMET (Higher Education Cooperative for Hazardous Materials and Equipment Tracking), which is a cooperative of institutions with similar goals for tracking hazardous materials.

Tracking and tagging with Vertére

The HECHMET project is underpinned by the Vertére Inventory Manager (VIM) software, which is a web-based online chemical inventory system used to track chemicals and other materials within the university environment.

All new hazardous materials being delivered to Ryerson receive a unique barcode, which is scanned and categorized into Vertére. This process happens upon arrival at Shipping and Receiving and prior to delivery of the materials to your location.

Access the external,Vertére Inventory Manager (VIM) software.

This web-based inventory system is easily accessible by users and allows them to review a list of hazardous chemical products and the specific location where they are being used or stored on campus.

Chemicals are tagged with a unique barcode label that cross-references to:

  • storage location;
  • Principal Investigator (PI) responsible for the item;
  • chemical information; and
  • SDS-related information, as required.

While the chemical inventory offers various advantages to the entire Ryerson community, users will also find it to be a valuable tool for tasks such as:

  • searching by chemical name, location, room or researcher(s);
  • knowing what you have on-hand to prevent waste; and
  • exporting or printing search results for future reference.

All Principal Investigators and labs have a unique username and password. Please contact ehs@ryerson.ca to have an account created.

Working in a labs inevitably presents some risks (from minor to significant), which can impact the health and safety of those working in the labs, adjacent areas and even the environment and members of the community nearby. We have included a short chemical incompatibility table, taken from Hazardous Laboratory Chemicals Disposal Guide, Third Edition by Margaret-Ann Armour. This table is provided for you to reference only and we are not liable for any direct or indirect damage resulting from its use.

Compound/class

Avoid storage near or contact with

Acetic acid

Chromic acid, nitric acid, hydroxyl-containing compounds, ethylene glycol, perchloric acid, peroxides, permanganates

Acetone

Bromine, chlorine, nitric acid, sulfuric acid, hydrogen peroxide

Acetylene

Fluorine, chlorine, bromine, copper, silver, mercury

Alkaline metals (e.g. Na, K, Mg, Ca, Al)

Carbon dioxide, carbon tetrachloride or other chlorinated hydrocarbons, halogens, water

Ammonia (anhydrous)

Mercury, chlorine, bromine, iodine, hydrofluoric acid, calcium hypochlorite

Ammonium nitrate

Acids, metal powders, flammable liquids, chlorates, nitrites, sulfur, finely divided organic or combustible materials

Aniline

Nitric acid, hydrogen peroxide

Arsenicals

Reducing agents (or will generate arsine)

Azides

Acids (or will generate hydrogen azide)

Bromine

Ammonia, acetylene, butadiene, methane, propane, butane (or other petroleum gases), hydrogen, sodium carbide, turpentine, benzene, finely-divided metals

Calcium oxide

Water

Carbon, activated

Calcium hypochlorite, oxidizing agents

Chlorates

Ammonium salts, acids, metal powders, sulfur, finely divided organic or combustible materials

Chromic acid, chromium trioxide

Acetic acid, naphthalene, camphor, glycerol, turpentine, alcohol or other flammable liquids

Copper

Acetylene, hydrogen peroxide

Cumene hydroperoxide

Organic or inorganic acids

Cyanides

Acids (or will generate hydrogen cyanide)

Flammable liquids

Ammonium nitrate, chromic acid, hydrogen peroxide, nitric acid, sodium peroxide, halogens

Fluorine

Isolate from everything

Hydrazine

Hydrogen peroxide, nitric acid, other oxidants

Hydrocarbons (e.g. butane, propane, benzene, gasoline, turpentine)

Fluorine, chlorine, bromine, chromic acid, sodium peroxide

Hydrocyanic acid

Nitric acid, alkalies

Hydrogen acid (anhydrous)

Ammonia (aqueous or anhydrous)

Hydrogen peroxide

Copper, chromium, iron, most other metals or their salts, alcohols, acetone, or other flammable liquids, aniline, nitromethane, or other organic or combustible materials

Hydrogen sulfide

Fuming nitric acid, oxidizing gases

Hydrochlorides

Acids (or will generate chlorine or hypochlorous acid)

Iodine

Acetylene, ammonia (aqueous or anhydrous), hydrogen

Mercury

Acetylene, ammonia, fulminic acid (produced in nitric acid-ethanol mixtures)

Nitrates

Sulfuric acid (or will generate nitrogen dioxide)

Nitric Acid (conc.)

Acetic acid, aniline, chromic acid, acetone, alcohol or other flammable liquids, hydrocyanic acid, hydrogen sulfide or other flammable gases, copper, brass or any heavy metals (or will generate nitrogen dioxide/nitrous fumes)

Nitrites

Acids (or will generate nitrous fumes)

Nitroparaffins

Inorganic bases, amines

Oxalic acid

Silver, mercury

Oxygen

Oils, grease, hydrogen, other flammable gases, liquids or solids

Perchloric acid

Acetic acids, bismuth and its alloys, alcohol, paper, wood, grease oils

Peroxides (organic)

Organic or inorganic acids. Also: avoid friction and store cold

Phosphorus (white)

Air, oxygen, caustic alkalis as reducing agents (or will generate phosphine)

Potassium

Carbon tetrachloride, carbon dioxide, water

Potassium chlorate

Acids, especially sulfuric acid

Potassium permanganate

Glycerol, ethylene glycol, benzaldehyde, sulfuric acid

Selenides

Reducing agents (or will generate hydrogen selenide)

Silver

Acetylene, oxalic acid, tartaric acid, fulminic acid (produced in nitric acid- ethanol mixtures), ammonium compounds

Sodium

Carbon tetrachloride, carbon dioxide, water

Sodium nitrite

Ammonium nitrate and other ammonium salts

Sodium peroxide

Any oxidizable substance such as methanol, ethanol, glycerol, ethylene glycol, glacial acetic acid, acetic anhydride, benzaldehyde, furfural, methyl acetate, ethyl acetate, carbon disulfide

Sulfides

Acids (or will generate hydrogen sulfide)

Sulfuric acid

Light metals (lithium, sodium, potassium), chlorates, perchlorates, permanganates

Tellurides

Reducing agents (or will generate hydrogen telluride)

Source: Hazardous Laboratory Chemicals Disposal Guide (3rd Edition) by Margaret-Ann Armour, 2003.

It is critical to dispose of chemical waste properly so as not to cause harm to yourself and the environment. Please follow these steps:

  1. Collect chemical waste in appropriate leak-proof waste container. EHS does not supply containers but they can be purchased at various companies, such as Uline, Acklands-Grainger, VWR and Fisher Scientific. Remember not to put incompatible chemicals in the same container, opting instead to use a second container. Keep the container closed at all times to minimize exposure.
  2. Label the container. Ensure that containers are labelled with a list of chemicals inside.
  3. Request pick-up. Once your container is filled and labelled, it is ready to be picked up by the hazardous waste company. Complete and submit an online external,Chemical Waste Disposal Request form for pick-up. When filling out this form, please note:
    1. After completing your contact information and the location where the waste resides, you will be prompted for information about the chemical. The tag number requested refers to the barcode number that the item has been tagged with for inventory. If you do not have a tag number, leave this field empty. If there is more than one tag number, you can add multiple tag numbers by clicking on “Add” button on the right side.
    2. Under the Chemical Composition field, please enter the composition of the chemical. This will help in determining the properties of the substance.
    3. Next you will be required to choose the physical form of the chemical from gas/aerosol can, solid and liquid. You will need to select either the Total Volume or Weight option, depending on the physical form. If you select Volume, you will need to enter the volume in either litres/gallons. If you select Weight, you will need to enter the weight in either kilograms/pounds.
    4. The last field will ask you whether any sharps are included in the waste. Please note there should be no biological sharps in the chemical waste.
    5. If there is more than one chemical waste item ready to be picked up, click on the “Add” button to enter the information for the next chemical.
    6. Submit the form when you are done.
Ryerson chemical safety barcode

Ryerson chemical inventory barcode sample

All chemicals arriving on campus are now barcoded and inventoried upon arrival at Shipping and Receiving and prior to delivery to the user. In order to keep the inventory as accurate as possible, any barcoded container from which contents have been emptied must be removed from the inventory. Please follow the simple process outlined below:

If your container has a Ryerson chemical inventory barcode:

  1. Write down the barcode number or remove the barcode from the container and stick it onto your PDF fileBarcode Return Form.
  2. Every week, send your completed form via internal mail to: Chemical and Hazardous Materials Coordinator, Environmental Health and Safety (YNG-1802).
  3. Dispose of the container as required (e.g. hazardous, glass, recycling).

If your container does NOT have a Ryerson chemical inventory barcode:

  • Dispose of the container as required (e.g. hazardous, glass, recycling).

All broken glassware that is not contaminated by chemical or biological agents (e.g. microscope slides, slide covers and Pasteur pipettes) are to be deposited into a broken glass waste container. Wear gloves and use tongs or a dustpan to pick up pieces for disposal, and never pick up a broken chemical glass container with your bare hands. When a broken glass waste container is full, close and seal the box, mark it as garbage and submit a service request to the Facilities Help Desk for a pick-up.

Legislation

The Chemical Safety Program is in compliance by law with the external,Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the university’s Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) Policy.