Chemical Safety


Working in university science labs will mean exposure to a variety of chemicals.  Working with chemicals can be hazardous and under the Occupational Health and Safety Act workers have restrictions to exposures and specific training requirements.

»Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)

»Chemical Safety

»Chemical Waste

»Designated Substances  (opens the standard)

         »Designated Substances Assessment form (fillable Word file)

»Hydroflouric Acid SOP (opens SOP for HF acid in Word)

»Unstable and old Chemicals

»Hazardous Materials Identification Guide (downloads a guide to common nomenclature used when describing Hazardous materials)


WHMIS has recently been updated from its 1988 version to what is now called WHMIS 2015.  This new version has added additional categories of hazards, new and additional pictograms, enhanced information in the Safety Data Sheets (SDS formely known as MSDS) and new labelling requirements. 

The WHMIS is currently in a transition stage where it is necessary to retrain all personnel to the new standards and to give sufficient time to update SDS for hazardous material previously purchased prior to the new program.   Stocks of Chemicals which currently have the WHMIS 1988 labelling and MSDS documention  will need to be relabelled with the WHMIS 2015 labels and have their SDS updated to the new format.

Training for WHMIS 2015 can be obtained from the Mandatory Employee Training course on Blackboard which all employees will find in their Blackboard dashboard. Graduate Students who receive Teaching Assistantships (TA) can access the training module through the Graduate Student Mandatory training on Blackboard which is under the MyTrent Portal.  Undergraduate students who are a)  working in a lab as a research assistant, b) volunteering in a lab or are completing an honours thesis which requires working in a lab also require WHMIS training and can access this by "Self Enrolling" in the Mandatory Employee Training Course on Blackboard.   Instructions for self enrolling in Blackboard courses can be found here» (opens a .pdf)

»University WHMIS Info webpage

Chemical Safety

There are over 22 000 different type of chemicals on campus most of which are relatively innoccuous but many which are not.  Working with Chemicals safely whether you are a chemist, physicist, biologist or geographer can put one at risk.  It is important that everyone, chemists and non-chemists understand how to safely work with and use laboratory chemicals, safely store and dispose of chemicals and be aware of some specifically hazardous chemicals and chemical processes.

The »Chemical Use, Storage, Spills and Waste Procedures (downloads a .pdf) explains the university procedures and precautions for the safe use, storage, and disposal of chemicals.  All personnel working with chemicals should download and read this document.

Chemical Waste Disposal Procedures

There are three chemical waste storage areas in the Sciences.

The following guidelines are to be followed when disposing of hazardous chemicals.   Trent University does not dispose of significant quantities of hazardous chemicals down the drain. Click on building below for the chemical waste procedures for that building.

»ESB, SC and CSB (downloads .pdf)

»DNA and LHS (downloads .pdf)

Old and Unstable Chemicals

Legacy Chemicals are those chemicals that have been purchased in the past and are still in storage.  They may or may not have been opened.  Like food, many chemicals tend to "go bad" over time.  Sometimes that means that they become less "potent"  while other times they can become less stable and more reactive.   Exposure to a variety of things like water, air or even light can cause some chemicals to become much more hazardous then when they were originally manufactured and purchased.  This can cause extremely hazardous situations, especially when unknowledgeable personnel are involved.   Most chemicals have expiry dates and any chemical approaching its expiry date should be disposed of through hazardous waste.   Chemicals which are significantly past their expiry dates should be assessed for their reactivity and stability before being placed in the hazardous chemical waste rooms. For more information on the stability of chemicals please read the (M) SDS sheet under the section stability and reactivity.  Contact Science Facilities for assistance with this.