Laboratories contain hazardous chemicals, biohazardous materials, and complicated pieces of dangerous equipment. All persons working in a laboratory at the University of Ottawa, whether it’s paid work or as part of course work are required to complete specific health & safety training sessions within their first month of starting.


The training ensures that the University of Ottawa fulfills its commitment to creating and ensuring safe working environments for the whole uOttawa community. We recognize that most persons will not require all of the job-specific training, but if working in a lab, then completing Laboratory Safety and Autoclave Safety is required. Check with your supervisor to see if other training sessions are required as well.

Need to verify when you last completed a course? Go to My Training Profile and sign in.


The Faculty of Medicine does not allow for unpaid volunteer research.  The decision to move away from unpaid volunteer work at the Faculty of Medicine has been in effect since March 2020 and remains in effect indefinitely. This decision was based on discussions with risk management, human resources, other Faculties at the University of Ottawa, and Faculties of Medicine across Canada.

In lieu of unpaid volunteers, the expectation is that all staff and trainees will either be paid employees or associated with an academic program (e.g., honors thesis, TMM, co-op, etc.) or formalized volunteerism program (to be reviewed by HR as situations arise).

In addition to liability and health and safety considerations, this decision is meant to ensure that all members of the university community have equal access to opportunities and are appropriately compensated for the work being done. Considering the rising costs of living, work without pay is becoming an opportunity that is only within reach for a subset of individuals. By receiving academic credit or paid work, we support equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) best practices, track and train all students and staff appropriately, and ensure that they are appropriately covered in the event of an accident or injury.



The transportation of biological and hazardous materials and equipment is highly regulated by Transport Canada via the Canadian Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act and Regulations (TDG) and the International Air Transport Association. uOttawa personnel are required to adhere to the strict training and packaging requirements from these entities. Guidance and training is available to help researchers transport their materials safely and lawfully.

If you are sending biological materials or chemical compounds (ranging from specific molecules, such as pharmaceuticals, nucleotides or proteins, to biological research tools such as cell cultures, cell lines, plasmids, transgenic plants or animals), you may also require a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) and Confidentiality or Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). These research support agreements are legal documents that are designed to ensure protection of your research or to protect information or materials obtained from an external source. The MTA controls the use of transferred materials when material is sent or received by the University of Ottawa.

Transportation of Dangerous Goods placards

Hazardous materials represent just about anything that can cause harm to people, property or the environment. They are classified into one of nine classes of dangerous goods (with associated subdivisions) depending on their inherent characteristics.

  • Class 1 – Explosives

  • Class 2 – Gases

  • Class 3 – Flammable Liquids

  • Class 4 – Flammable Solids

  • Class 5 – Oxidizing Substances and Organic Peroxides

  • Class 6 – Toxic and Infectious Substances

  • Class 7 – Radioactive Materials

  • Class 8 – Corrosive Substances

  • Class 9 – Miscellaneous Products, Substances or Organisms

So that we can properly and efficiently assist you, you will need:

  • Request a commercial invoice online to help your shipment pass through Customs and avoid import duties

    • Note: A commercial invoice is only necessary if the destination for your shipment is outside Canada.

    • Note: We require a minimum of 48 hours notice to prepare your commercial invoice.

  • A shipping document, such as a FedEx waybill, available from the RGN Receiving Department (room 1129A).

    • Note: The forms vary depending on whether your parcel’s destination is domestic or abroad. Do not complete Section 4 (Shipment Information) and do not sign the document; we will do that for you.

  • A suitable shipping container.

    • Saf-T-Pak sells many great examples

    • As long as a shipping container is in good condition, it can continue to be reused.

  • The correct safety marks for your container. We maintain a supply of the regularly used stickers.

If you must send a frozen shipment using dry ice as a refrigerant, make sure you have both an insulated shipping container (comprised of a Styrofoam/polystyrene inner box and a rigid cardboard outer box), and of course, a suitable quantity of dry ice. We recommend 2.5 kg of dry ice per day for every day you expect it to be in transit.

Dry ice, also known as “carbon dioxide, solid”, is regulated as a Class 9 dangerous good. This is because it displaces oxygen as it evaporates. To avoid the likelihood of pressurized carbon dioxide rupturing your parcel, only tape the centre where the flaps meet on top of the box.

Shipping companies like FedEx have mastered the logistics of getting parcels from one point to another, but things don’t always go as planned.

  • How will you react if you learn your parcel has gone missing en route?  Will you be able to send another sample/specimen? 

  • If you must send your parcel on dry ice, we strongly recommend that you only send it on a Monday or Tuesday. If you choose to send it later in the week and it ends up on a loading dock late Friday afternoon, there’s a good chance the dry ice will have completely evaporated before it reaches the intended recipient and your samples will have thawed.

  • You may require other documentation, like an import permit, for the receiving country. These often take several weeks to obtain, so contact us early in the process to discuss.

The TDG Regulations require copies of all paperwork to be held for a period of two years. Electronic copies are acceptable. Additional information concerning the Transportation of Dangerous Goods is available on the uOttawa Office of Risk Management’s website.

Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is any kind of clothing, eyewear or other apparel that protects the users from hazards present in their work environment or that they might encounter in their daily activities. The Health, Safety and Risk Management Office wants to ensure that all persons are adequately protected by providing recommendations as to what type of PPE might be necessary for you by providing the information below.

According to the University of Ottawa’s procedure on safety eyewear  and the University’s guidelines on PPE, “safety eyewear must be worn in circumstances where there is a hazard of:

  •  Impact (flying particles, dusts, vapours)

  • Splash (chemical, radioactive, biological agents) or

  • Ultraviolet and infrared (harmful rays).

Latex Gloves and goggles

It is important to note that not all safety eyewear is suitable for all potential hazards in the laboratory. For example, goggles are preferable when pouring corrosive liquids. Safety glasses are primarily designed to protect one’s eyes from flying objects. Prescription eyewear is never to be considered safety eyewear.

According to the University of Ottawa’s guidelines on PPE, “lab coats must be worn at all times when working in the laboratory using hazardous materials.”  The Health, Safety and Risk Management Office suggests that ALL personnel, whether employee, student, volunteer or visitor, wear an appropriate lab coat at ALL times within the laboratory environments.

Though gloves can be a very useful piece of PPE, it is important to use them correctly. The standard powderless nitrile gloves will not be beneficial in all situations. All gloves are not impermeable to all materials. It is therefore very important to verify the manufacturer’s specifications for your gloves before using them. You may also make use of the glove guide to choose the correct type of glove for the work to be conducted.

Chemical Inventory

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Chemical Safety, Safety Data Sheets, and WHMIS 2015

  • Hazardous products - The University of Ottawa subscribes to the ChemWatch database of more than 13 million safety data sheets (SDS/MSDS) provided by manufacturers of pure compounds, products and mixtures. In addition, ChemWatch provides more than 100,000 "ChemGold" SDSs, which consolidate chemical hazard information from multiple sources into a single comprehensive document and distills that information further into one-page mini-SDSs or safety summaries. This database enables students and staff to review these SDS in multiple languages. Access is available on campus networks or via VPN.

  • Biohazardous products - many laboratory workers, whether in research, public health, teaching, etc., are exposed to not only chemicals but infectious substances as well. Pathogen Safety Data Sheets (PSDS) are produced for personnel working in the life sciences as quick safety reference material relating to infectious micro-organisms.

The product (supplier) label serves as one of the primary sources of information about the contents of a container. It is vital that the information depicted is properly understood by end users. The label must be bilingual (French/English) and legible. If the supplier label becomes damaged or unreadable for any reason, the label must be replaced with a workplace label containing the following information:

  1. Product identifier (product name matching that on the SDS),

  2. Information for the safe handling of the product, and

  3. A statement that the SDS is available

Information for the safe handling of the product refers to precautions that a person must take to minimize potential adverse health effects or injury. These precautions can be conveyed through pictures, words, symbols or equivalent means and are usually available on the SDS.