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Centre for Science - Science lab safety

Athabasca University's Center for Science (AUCS) is committed to providing a healthy, safe, and environmentally responsible workplace and learning environment for its staff and students.

AU endeavours to meet its responsibilities for health and safety by adhering to relevant health and safety standards and legislative requirements, and by assigning general and specific responsibilities for workplace health and safety.

We take safety very seriously! We hope you will, too. Please read and reference as needed, the following safety guidelines.

Guidelines and policies

Home lab safety guidelines

When designing the home laboratory component of our courses, we found it necessary to strike a balance between minimizing possible hazards and exposing you to a full range of techniques.

By its very nature, science often necessitates the handling of dangerous substances; if science students are never exposed to such situations, we would never have fully trained scientists. If you adhere to a high standard of safety practices, we do not anticipate problems when carrying out home labs.

ALWAYS read the assigned home lab activity completely, before beginning. This helps you carry out the experiment faster as you will understand the purpose of the activity, and you will be able to recognize possible hazards up front.

We strongly recommend the following safety standards be strictly adhered to:

Be safe and have fun!

Home lab safety pledge

Safety rules

  1. Wear approved eye protection at all times doing your lab activities.
  2. Confine long hair when doing your lab activities.
  3. Perform no unauthorized experiments.
  4. Select a safe site for lab activities in your home that is well ventilated, and protected from spills, children and pets.
  5. Keep all chemicals and equipment out of the reach of children and pets.
  6. If possible, keep all unauthorized people out of your selected site when chemicals are in use in order to avoid any unforeseen accidents. If anyone is allowed to observe you or participate in experiments, follow all of the proper safety rules.
  7. In case of a chemical spill, clean up thoroughly with paper towels and dispose of chemicals out of the reach of children and pets.
  8. If chemical spills occur on people or clothing, rinse thoroughly with lots of running water, and seek medical attention if necessary.
  9. Have no food or drink in the lab area. Be sure to thoroughly clean up lab site and all utensils used after working on labs.

Supervised lab safety guidelines

Below are general guidelines regarding laboratory work including personal safety, lab equipment, chemicals, biohazard waste, and spills and clean-up.

Athabasca University Centre for Science (AUSC) safety policy

Safety Policy Statement

Athabasca University Centre for Science (AUSC) believes that no task or activity is so important that it can't be done in a safe manner, and in compliance with all applicable health and safety codes and standards.

The AUSC therefore resolves to pursue any reasonable course of action (so far as is reasonably practicable) to ensure achievement of these standards. This includes the enforcement of all applicable health, safety and environmental protection regulations.

The AUSC also resolves to take prompt action to correct unsafe conditions, and to see to the continued safety education for the Health, Safety and Welfare at Work of all University employees and students, and the safety of others who may be affected by the undertakings of the University.

The AUSC takes all reasonable steps to acquaint its employees with their rights and duties in the workplace and applicable regulations and procedures for protecting their health and safety. Where appropriate, the AUSC establishes special arrangements and programs to assist in maintaining safe conditions and work practices and facilitating employee participation in health and safety activities, including health and safety committees.

All AUSC employees and students shall protect their own health and safety by working in compliance with prevailing regulations and standards and with safe work practices and procedures established by the AUSC.

It is the responsibility and duty of all employees and students to follow safe work procedures, to observe health and safety regulations, and to constantly work towards improving health and safety standards at Athabasca University. All employees must report any health hazards and unsafe conditions or practices to supervisory staff for corrective action. Students should report any health hazards and unsafe conditions or practices to the Chair of AUSC for corrective action.

Finally, your cooperation in observing the proper health, safety and environmental protection regulations is vital to the success of this objective. It is a primary duty of all persons in authority, instructors, and other persons who are supervisors, as defined in the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Act , to ensure that any persons under their direction are made aware of and comply with all applicable policy and safety procedures adherent to this policy. They shall be responsible for ensuring that all aspects of the workplace, including teaching and research sites, are safe and that any risks, hazards, and safety violations drawn to their attention are investigated and corrected promptly. They are responsible under the Act, to take "every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker."

Updated September 28, 2023 by Digital & Web Operations (