Skip to main content

Lab and Field Safety

Safety is of utmost importance in all aspects of graduate work, as well as in your future careers. Wilfrid Laurier University is committed to making students appreciate the importance of safety and to providing a safe working environment.

Your Responsibilities

You should understand the safety implications of your work. If you feel at any time that you may be working in an unsafe environment, you are responsible for identifying the problem to your supervisor or another faculty member. You have the right to refuse immediately any work or responsibility that is not safe. Open dialogue with supervisors, colleagues and other staff can help ensure a safe working environment.

You are expected to be properly trained (see below) and to be familiar with the location and operation of safety features in the lab, such as chemical showers, eye wash stations, protective eyewear, footwear and other clothing, fire extinguishers etc.


If there is a fire or other emergency in a lab, immediately contact the Special Constable Service at 519.885.3333 (x3333 from an internal phone). Memorize this number.


Training is provided by the Safety, Health, Environmental and Risk Management Department (SHERM) on general health and safety topics. Training on topics specific to the work that you will be performing will be provided by your supervisor.

Young Worker Health and Safety Orientation Training is available online through MyLearningSpace. It includes information to ensure young workers understand their rights and responsibilities and have the information they need to work safely. Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) training is included in this online session.

Depending on the type of research you will be performing, your supervisor may require you to participate in additional training sessions.

SHERM also offers other health and safety courses, such as first aid and CPR training. For more information, contact SHERM.


Laboratory environments may have several potential hazards, with which you should be familiar. In an effort to promote lab safety, the Faculty of Science and Safety, Health, Environmental and Risk Management (SHERM) have jointly produced manuals on general laboratory safety and biosafety. These manuals provide information about the potential hazards in the laboratory and practices to control the hazards. Copies are available in the main Biology office. The lab technicians also have one hard copy each.

In addition, Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for chemicals are available in each lab and must be reviewed prior to working with chemicals.

Field Safety

Field-related work can pose additional hazards. The Office of Research Services has established a committee to develop a university-wide policy on field safety in coordination with Laurier International and researchers who conduct fieldwork.

Currently, the Department of Biology has a voluntary field safety planning procedure in place. It is strongly recommended that all field researchers fill out, in consultation with their supervisors, a Field Research Safety Planning Record that is signed and filed with the chair of Biology before any fieldwork is undertaken. For more information, contact Safety, Health, Environmental and Risk Management (SHERM).