Lab safety

Laboratory safety programs apply across many, if not all, campus laboratories. They are developed to ensure the health and safety of university members and to ensure legislatorial compliance. The programs also serve to set out university's program-specific requirements as well as to support education and training. The SFU Laboratory Safety Manual contains a comprehensive review of the SFU Laboratory Safety Program.

Inspections

A critical component of any laboratory safety management program is inspections.  Reference the laboratory safety inspection guidance document to familiarize yourself with processes and requirements. Then use the checklists and report templates to prevent, track and address hazards.

Daily, informal inspections

Laboratory safety starts with the researchers who work there every day. Keep an eye out for potential hazards and if you see something that appears unsafe, don’t wait until a formal inspection to address it.

Departmental inspections

Every department organizes annual inspections, wherein safety committee members, departmental staff and EHS staff perform laboratory walkthroughs. These inspection groups serve as important outside eyes to assess hazards that may otherwise go undetected by those that are familiarity with working in the same space every day.

Monthly and annual inspections

Complete the monthly and annual inspection checklists as part regular laboratory maintenance and keep them posted near the lab entrance. Have a different person carry out the inspection every month to allow for a mix of perspectives and attention to detail.

Radiation safety and biosafety inspections

Biosafety, radiation safety and laser safety each require separate annual inspections particular to those program areas. These inspections are organized by EHS in coordination with the PI.

Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) mandate these internal biosafety and radiation safety inspections as part of the licensing process. Inspections must be carried out and the results kept on record, to be produced on request of the licensing agencies. Failure to comply can result in revocation of licenses for the entire University, resulting in the suspension of all research involving these materials.

SFU is subject to PHAC and/or CNSC inspection at any time, with little notice provided. All of the above informal and formal levels of inspections go into good laboratory practice. When all of the rules and regulations are adhered to, a surprise inspection by a licensing agency will be just another day in the laboratory.

Resources

Laboratory safety inspection guidance document Provides guidance for departments on conducting laboratory inspections
Laboratory monthly safety inspection checklist Use for monthly inspections of laboratories.
Laboratory annual safety inspection checklist Use for annual inspections of laboratories.
Inspection summary report template Use to generate a summary report of inspection findings.