Chemical safety

SFU has a comprehensive chemical safety program that applies to all areas where hazardous chemical agents are used, stored or handled.


Chemical fume hoods

A chemical fume hood is a ventilated enclosure where airborne contaminants are contained and exhausted to the atmosphere outside the building. The fume hood can also act as a physical barrier between a person and the chemicals being handled.

Note – a laminar flow hood and a biosafety cabinet are not the same as a chemical fume hood in terms of controlling chemical hazards.

Chemical fume hoods are tested and performance certified annually. The certification label on the edge of the fume hood face opening indicates the date of performance certification and the maximum operational sash height.

Review guidelines for the safe use of chemical fume hoods.

Compressed gas cylinders

Ensure all gas cylinders in your laboratory are adequately secured to a solid structure with two points of restraint: one at one-third the height of the cylinder and another at two-thirds the height.

When not in use, gas cylinders must have the regulator removed and the cap secured. Review requirements for gas cylinders in the Chemical safety fact sheet for compressed gases.

Emergency showers and eyewashes

Access to emergency washing facilities is required for laboratories working with hazardous chemicals. It must be accessible (not blocked by supplies or equipment) and generally must be located within a 10 second walk (30 m) of your laboratory area.

Know the location of your nearest emergency shower and eyewash. It may be within your laboratory or in the corridor. Emergency showers and eyewashes are regularly tested by SFU Facilities Services.

Fire extinguishers

Fire extinguishers are installed in laboratories where hazardous processes are carried out, or significant quantities of flammable liquids are used or stored. Familiarize yourself with the type and location of fire extinguishers in your area before you have an emergency and ensure that they are visible and accessible at all times.

Heating equipment

Hot plates, heat guns and oil baths are a significant fire hazard in the presence of flammable and combustible materials. Review guidelines for working safely with hot plates, heat guns and oil baths.

High + low pressure systems

Systems under pressure or vacuum are at risk of explosion or implosion, which can also lead to release of hazardous chemicals and reaction mixtures. Review guidelines for safe use of high + low pressure systems.

Other local exhaust ventilation 

Other local exhaust ventilation includes canopy hoods, downdraft tables, slot hoods, and snorkels.  If applicable, position local exhaust ventilation as close as possible to the source of chemical emissions. All local exhaust ventilation must be tested and certified on an annual basis.