These chemical safety tips provide a basic set of guidelines for the safe use and management of hazardous materials in laboratories, workshops or studios. These safety tips should be supplemented with Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), available on the Laboratory Safety page. Follow these tips to help keep you and others safe.
Ongoing lab maintenance
- Ensure fume hoods are always used when there is an inhalation risk to a toxic chemical.
- Check that fume hoods are in good working order by verifying the certification sticker on the hood, which indicates that the hood has passed inspection. Inspections are valid for one year. Follow standard operating procedures outlined in google docRUL-SOP-013: Fume Hood Operation, external link.
- Emergency eyewash and safety showers should be available in areas where hazardous materials are used (e.g. chemicals, sand, biohazards, etc.)
- In the event of an incident where chemicals come in contact with eyes or skin, use these units to flush the affected area for a minimum of 15 minutes.
- Emergency eyewashes and showers should be checked weekly. Follow the standard operating procedures outlined in google docRUL-SOP-016: Emergency Eyewash and Safety Shower Procedure, external link and use the google docEmergency Eyewash and Shower Weekly Inspection Checklist and Log, external link to document your test.
Receiving, storing and working with chemicals
- All chemicals must be received through Ryerson Shipping and Receiving so that they can be barcoded into Ryerson’s chemical inventory system, Vertére. To create an account in Vertére, follow the instructions on the Chemical Safety page.
- Adhere to proper storage practices for hazardous materials, especially corrosive, flammable and combustible chemicals. Best practices for chemical storage can be found in the Laboratory Safety Manual on the Laboratory Safety page.
- All chemicals require workplace labels when a supplier label is not present. Visit the Chemical Safety page and follow the instructions to order labels. Download and print the How to Complete Chemical Workplace Labels poster which outlines instructions on how to complete labels.
- When stored over time, high risk chemicals pose additional risks by becoming unstable (i.e. picric acid and peroxide forming compounds). Ensure these are disposed of prior to their expiry date and/or stored under conditions set out in their related Safety Data Sheets (SDSs).
- When using hazardous materials, always ensure that the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) is used. For required PPE to handle chemicals, refer to the SDSs. Guidelines on selection, use and maintenance can be found in our Personal Protective Equipment Manual, found on the Personal Protective Equipment page.
Disposing of chemicals and managing emergencies and spills
- Do not dispose of any hazardous materials, including chemicals, down the drain or in the regular garbage. Follow the proper hazardous waste procedures as outlined on the Chemical Safety page.
- In case of emergencies or spills of hazardous materials, refer to SDSs and follow the proper emergency response and spill procedures outlined in the Laboratory Safety Manual on the Laboratory Safety page.
Additional chemical and laboratory safety resources
For more information, including roles, responsibilities and requirements to assist workers who may be exposed to a range of chemical and physical hazards, visit the Chemical Safety page and Laboratory Safety page.
Visit the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, external link for additional safety resources.