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.


There are three major components to laboratory hazard signage at SFU consisting of door signs, hazard-specific signage and signage to restrict access by service personnel.

Door signs

Laboratory door signs are posted at the entrance of any space that stores hazardous materials, radioactive sources, X-ray generating devices, and laser devices. These signs are designed to allow emergency responders to identify the hazards within a space to plan safe entry if required and obtain emergency contact information.

Door signs are generated by each lab, using the Laboratory Hazard Inventory System.

Elements of the door sign include a modified National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) diamond providing an at-a-glance measure of the health, flammability, and reactivity of the chemical inventory in the laboratory.

Door signs are printed at a minimum annually, or more frequently if there is a significant change to the quantity and type of chemicals stored in the laboratory. In addition, new door signs should be printed if the emergency contacts change. Signs should be printed in colour, single-sided, with the second page tucked behind the first in the door sign holder. If you have any questions about the laboratory hazard inventory system or your door sign, please contact EHS.

Hazard-specific signage

In addition to laboratory door signs which primarily focus on chemical hazards, there are numerous other hazard-specific warning signs.

Biohazard sign

At SFU, biohazard signs must be posted at the entry to any laboratory where Risk Group 2 (RG2) or higher material is stored or handled. Laboratories working with Risk Group 1 (RG1) material are not required to post this sign.

Laser sign

Laboratories with open Class 3 or 4 laser devices must have posted at the entrance a laser warning sign. This indicates that skin or eye damage is possible from direct or scattered laser radiation. Please contact EHS for this signage.

For laboratories where an open Class 4 laser is used, there is an additional requirement to have a lit warning sign when the laser device energized. Please contact EHS for more information.

Magnet sign

Laboratories where strong magnetic fields exist, such as with nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, must have posted at the entrance a sign informing people of the presence of those strong fields. Individuals with metallic medical implants, neurostimulators, pacemakers, or other implanted medical devices should not enter. Additionally, ferrous metallic materials (such as keys and scissors) should not be brought into these spaces.

Radiation sign

Any laboratory where open or sealed radioactive sources are stored or handled must have posted the radiation warning sign at the entrance. A radiation warning sign should also be posted in the laboratory where radioactive sources are used or being stored.

X-ray sign

Any laboratory equipped with an X-ray generating device, such as an X-ray diffractometer (XRD), X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzer, or X-ray imaging equipment, must have posted at the entrance an X-ray caution sign.

Restricted entry by service personnel

At SFU, there is additional signage to provide instructions to facilities and janitorial staff used to restrict their entry. It is not sufficient to print and post one of these signs on your own. Please contact EHS to request one of the following signs.

Wet Mopping sign

If your laboratory has a Biohazard or Radiation sign, garbage and recycling will be removed as normal but the floor will only be dry mopped. When you request a wet mopping sign, you will select one night of the week on which your floors will be wet mopped. By posting the wet mopping sign, you are assuring the janitorial staff that there is neither biohazardous nor radioactive material on the floor that will be captured and spread through the action of wet mopping.

No entry/no janitorial service

If there are sensitive experiments or safety concerns in your laboratory, you can request a No Entry/No Janitorial Service sign. When this sign is posted, janitorial staff will not enter your laboratory for any reason. Garbage and recycling bins will have to be kept in the hallway for pickup. Once you have received this sign, you can post it and remove it to refuse or request janitorial service as required.

Restricted access

Where there are strict security protocols to be followed, or entry into a room may pose a hazard to service personnel (including facilities services, contractors, and janitorial staff) you can request a Restricted Access sign. When this sign is posted, service personnel must make contact to arrange for a physical escort into the lab by designated lab members or authorized departmental staff.