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 regulatory compliance. The programs also set out the university's program-specific requirements as well as support education and training. The SFU Laboratory safety manual assembles key information from the SFU Laboratory safety program in a single document.

Power outages

Most laboratory buildings experience occasional brief periods of power loss. Power outages can be unpredictable in duration and timing. These instances may be minor disturbances or could damage equipment or ruin experimentation. Longer term power outages may cause significant disruption and loss. It is important to consider the effects of long-term and short-term power loss and implement plans to minimize negative outcomes.

Each laboratory should develop a plan to protect laboratory equipment, materials, and research from loss and to prevent hazardous conditions from developing during a power outage.

EHS has created a Laboratory Power Outages Guide and a Laboratory Power Outages Infosheet, that enable faculty, staff, researchers and students that work in laboratories with hazardous materials and equipment, to prepare when a planned or unplanned power outage impacts laboratory operation. These documents suggest actions to take before, during and after a power outage.

Spill response

Risk assessment

When a hazardous material spill occurs, you must conduct an initial risk assessment to determine if:

  1. it is safe to clean up on your own,
  2. you require assistance/resources, or
  3. evacuation is required

University laboratories work with a variety of hazardous materials, each of which may have specific considerations for spill cleanup.

Review the material-specific spill response procedures below.

Minor spills

Minor spills of hazardous materials that present no immediate threat to health or safety can usually be cleaned up by lab workers. As a rough guide, spills of less than 50 mL are normally considered to be minor. If you are ever in doubt, evacuate and call for assistance.

When deciding how to proceed with cleanup of a minor spill, answer the following questions:

  • Have you received spill response training?
  • Does the lab have a spill response kit specific to the material spilled?
  • Have you consulted the Safety Data Sheet for specific procedures or considerations?
  • Is there adequate ventilation to prevent exposure to harmful vapours?
  • Do you know how to dispose of the contaminated materials?

Major spills

Major spills of hazardous materials present an immediate threat to health and safety and require additional planning and resources. Depending on the material, a small spill can still be serious and require a coordinated spill response. Always exercise caution.

In the event of a major spill, notify everyone around you and immediately evacuate using the further exit from the spill.

Call Campus Public Safety (778.782.4500) and Environmental Health and Safety for assistance.

If it is necessary to evacuate the entire building, pull the fire alarm and call 911.

Personal Exposure

For skin and eye exposure to Chemical or Biological hazards:

  • Go to nearest emergency shower and eyewash station
  • Remove contaminated clothing and shoes
  • Flush with water from an emergency shower or eyewash immediately for a minimum of 15 minutes. For eye exposure, hold eyelids open to ensure thorough washing
  • Seek immediate medical attention: have a colleague call Campus Security at 778-782-4500 and 911, if necessary
  • SDS should accompany injured person for medical treatment


For skin and eye exposure to Radiological materials:

  • Remove contaminated clothing and shoes
  • Flush with lukewarm water at nearest sink or eyewash. Do not take a shower!
  • Call the Radiation Safety Officer at 778-782-3633.


Laboratory Access Protocol - Facilities Services

This Laboratory Access Protocol contains information for Facilities Services and the laboratory staff.

Laboratory Access Protocol - Contractors

This Laboratory Access Protocol contains information for contractors.

Fume hood/Strobic Exhaust System Maintenance Procedure

This Fume hood/Strobic Exhaust System Maintenance Procedure contains information for Facilities Services, EHS, laboratory staff, and area managers/supervisors.