Health and Safety
The Food Science Department's goal is to keep all personnel safe with knowledge to anticipate, recognize and avoid undue risks. Make sure you understand the nature of the hazards in your work space and what must be done to control them.
Employees and visitors working and/or studying at the University of Guelph must have insurance to pay for health care services and medical treatments for themselves and family members who come with them. Enrollment in the University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP) is mandatory for anyone that is not enrolled in a provincial health plan such as the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). UHIP benefits are underwritten by the Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada.
For more details, consult the Human Resources website for the University Health Insurance Plan details -
- Take the departmental tour to get familiar with the location of rooms, offices, labs as well as to gain an understanding of departmental procedures.
- Take the necessary Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) training courses required by the University, the Food Science Department, and your supervisor.
- Take lab tour(s) given to you by supervisor of the lab where you will be working, or a competent supervisor. The core labs and the pilot plant should also be included if needed.
- To gain access to labs / equipment, present all records of EHS training and the signed departmental lab orientation and training forms to Leona Varga in the Food Science Department main office.
This handbook covers the basics – if you need specific information on any aspect of the legislation, departmental procedures, or the controls necessary for the various physical, chemical, biological or radiological hazards, more detailed resources are available and are discussed in further detail below.
The University of Guelph operates under the Ontario Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA, RSO 1990, https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/90o01) which is administered by the Ministry of Labour. A hard copy of the Safety Act can be found in Food Science room 123.
All employees of the University of Guelph have 3 fundamental rights under the OHSA:
- The right to know about hazards
- The right to participate in health and safety
- The right to refuse unsafe work
Additionally, workers who receive Basic Certification training and become Certified Workers have the right to stop unsafe work.
Role and responsibilities of the employer
- Provide a safe workplace
- Ensure safety equipment is provided and used
- Share information on hazards
- Train and supervise
- Ensure there is a Health and safety Committee or representative
- Appoint a competent person as supervisor
- Take every precaution reasonable under the circumstances for the protection of the worker
Role and responsibilities of the supervisor
- Exercise due diligence
- Take every reasonable precaution under the circumstances to protect the health and safety of those under your supervision
- Advise employee of the existence of any potential or actual danger to their health or safety
- Ensure the employee follows safety procedures
Role and responsibilities of the employee
- Work in compliance with the provisions of the Ontario Occupational Health & Safety Act and departmental regulations
- Use safety equipment, protective devices or clothing that the employer requires
- Report to employer or supervisor any hazard of which they know
Be aware that the Ministry of Labour is an enforcement agency. Inspectors have right of entry, power to issue orders, to ticket and to lay fines against individuals and the institution. It is also important to note that in 2004 the Criminal Code was amended to allow the crown to pursue criminal charges against corporations and individuals in cases where there is reckless disregard for safety resulting in injury or death.
It is good to ask questions when in doubt. The Department wants you to think critically and understand the hazards you are facing and the precautions required to protect your health and well-being as well as everybody else’s in the Department.
The best place to start when looking for safety resources is with your supervisor. Issues that cannot be easily addressed can be raised to the department chair, departmental safety committees, the Environmental Health & Safety department, or other resources across campus.
The University’s Environmental Health and Safety department (EHS) also has a useful website where you can access all University safety policies, register for safety training sessions, and review resources and guidance on the University’s environmental, health and safety programs. You are always welcome to discuss any safety or environmental concerns with someone on the EHS Team.
Safety Committees are here to help. Feel free to contact either the Food Science Department Health and Safety Committee or the University Central Joint Health and Safety Committee (CJHSC) for help and support regarding safety programs, to help in identifying hazards, to raise safety issues, and conducting workplace inspections.
Everyone has to learn from someone, so do not be afraid to ask for help. Training is a critical component of any safety program. No one can reasonably expect you to do the right thing if you have not been given clear instructions and/or expectations. The training available to personnel can be subdivided into two categories: general or specific. General training is provided by the Food Science Department, the University EHS Department, and external third parties, and includes courses like WHMIS, Laboratory Safety, Workers Awareness, Radiation Safety, First Aid/CPR, Biosafety training. These courses may be offered in class or on-line. Please refer to the following websites for more details:
For training provided by Environmental Health and Safety - https://www.uoguelph.ca/hr/hr-services/environmental-health-safety-ehs/ehs-training/course-descriptions
For training provided by the Office of Research - https://www.uoguelph.ca/research/services-divisions/ethics/resources
Job-specific training is the responsibility of each lab or work group. This includes on-the-job demonstration of equipment, lab methods and experimental techniques. Working in the pilot plant might require specific training on the operation of certain pieces of equipment. If you are unsure of how to safely and properly complete a task, ask for assistance.
The University mandates the following training courses: WHMIS, Laboratory Safety training, Workers Awareness training for every new personnel. Supervisors need to take the Supervisor Due diligences and the Biosafety training if working with biohazards.
Be aware that the Food Science Department has installed surveillance cameras in many teaching areas, corridors and labs.
The Food Science Building is closed each weekday by 4:45 p.m. (4:30 p.m. during summer hours), and all day Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. The building is open at 8:00 a.m. Doors (internal and external) must not be propped open as this allows admission of unauthorized persons. Personnel requiring entry to the building will be issued a swipe card upon receipt of a deposit of $20.00. Personnel using the building outside of regular business hours will be held responsible for proper use. Windows must be closed and those on lower level floors secured against entry when leaving. Personnel are reminded that lab doors are to be kept unlocked and closed at all times.
Personnel with approval to access secure areas of the building will be granted access by swipe card or key by Leona Varga in the Food Science Department main office - room 114. A deposit will be required for each key/card issued. This deposit will be reimbursed upon return of the key/card. Processing of the paperwork for these items takes place on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons only.
Personnel needing keys must have their supervisor’s signature on the Food Science Department orientation form. Personnel should also bring their three mandatory EHS safety training certificates: WHMIS, Lab Safety and Workers Due Diligence. If working with Biohazards, a biosafety training certificate must be provided to Leona Varga in the main office.
Department equipment and supplies are to be used only in connection with authorized work of students in the Department. Equipment and supplies must not be removed from the building without approval of the Department Chair and the professor in charge of the equipment.
Equipment must not be removed from labs for use in another area of the building without the consent of the professor in charge of that laboratory. Equipment must not be used without the consent of the professor in charge of that equipment. Examples of equipment are Universal Tester, UHT sterilizer, freeze-dryer, GLC. After use, equipment must immediately be properly cleaned and returned to its customary place.
Any breakage or malfunction of equipment must be reported to the professor in charge so repairs or replacements can be made.
Being a building where foods are processed and stored, it is very important that all areas be maintained at a high level of sanitation and cleanliness. The building should always be ready for unexpected "tours of inspection" by visitors. There is absolutely no smoking permitted anywhere in the Food Science Building.
As per University regulations, eating or drinking is prohibited inside laboratories. Two kitchen areas are provided in the building (first floor and attic) to be used for that purpose. Gloves should not be worn outside of any lab as to not cross contaminate.
The Food Science Department has two rooms with specialized equipment available for research. Personnel can use them but certain steps must be followed. Persons wanting to use this equipment must contact the Departmental Technicians to be added to the booking system. Supervisors must approve of equipment usage as there is often a cost associated with its use.
Lab coats are the most common personal protective equipment (PPE) against chemical hazards. Lab coats are to be worn in the lab and may only be worn outside of labs if they are needed as PPE, for example when transporting samples from one lab to another one. It is not acceptable to access common areas in the department including: washrooms, offices, kitchen or meeting spaces, while wearing a lab coat.
Lab coats are available in room 014. Anyone may take a lab coat from that room and use it until it is ready for laundry. It is recommended to use a piece of colored tape or masking tape on top of the left pocket where the name of the user can be written. This ‘name tag’ should be removed when the lab coat is brought back to room 014 for laundry. Please drop the dirty lab coat in the green fabric bin. A clean lab coat can be taken at that time. Ignore the labels and writing on lab coats as many of these people are no longer in this department. Labs that do not want to share their lab coats must indicate this in the laundry room, by leaving a note for everybody to see as to which lab coats are not considered to be for common use.
Every lab must possess 3 or 4 labs coats for visitors. Students coming from other labs might be considered visitors. Talk to the supervisor as to which one is the right procedure for a particular lab.
Dropping lab coats in lab 014 for laundry applies to those labs that are not working with Level 2 or 2+. A different laundry procedure should be followed by those labs.
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). These are documents that lay out specific directions on what to do in certain emergency situations, or instruction on the use of common lab equipment. The Department takes care of common areas, like core facilities or teaching labs. Each Lab has their own requirements and procedures. Ask Supervisors to provide SOPs.
Get familiar with the exits in the places you are working. An evacuation plan should be posted on the door of the lab/room that you are in. When you hear the evacuation alarm, immediately:
- Extinguish any open flames and close any open gas valves.
- Close the sash on fume hoods and biosafety cabinets (BSCs).
- Exit the lab, and close the door behind you.
- Move quickly and calmly to the nearest safe exit or stairwell. Do not attempt to use the elevator. Once outside, move well away from the building.
- Go to the meeting place, the marshalling area on Gordon St. Pass any relevant information on to fire wardens.
- Re-entry to the building may proceed once the alarm bells have stopped ringing unless instructed otherwise by emergency response personnel.
- Anyone requiring assisted evacuation must be moved to the landing of the nearest safe stairwell. Ensure a fire warden or colleague notifies the emergency authorities of the person’s location.
For emergencies, using a University of Guelph phone - dial extension 52000 and request emergency assistance. From a cell phone - dial 519-840-5000 (put this number in your cell phone contacts). For information on the Safe Gryphon app, go to the UG Police website https://www.uoguelph.ca/police/safegryphon-app
Obtain first aid assistance. The names and contact numbers of departmental first aiders are posted in every lab. In addition, the University’s first aid stations are:
- Student Health Services, located in the John T Powell Building
- Occupational Hygiene and Wellness (OHW), located in Alexander Hall
- Campus Police and Fire Safety mobile services are based out of the Trent/Police building
In an emergency, do not attempt to transport the casualty to the hospital yourself.
Severe injuries require immediate notification of EHS. If an injury meets the regulated definition of ‘critical’, the Ministry of Labour must be notified and the scene preserved.
A critical injury is one that:
- Is potentially life threatening.
- Causes loss of sight in an eye.
- A burn to major portions of the body.
- Produces unconsciousness.
- Causes substantial loss of blood.
- Causes fracture of arm or leg, or amputation of arm, hand, leg or foot.
Guidance for Specific Incidents:
- Cuts – if someone suffers a severe cut, place pressure on the wound, and if possible elevate the wound above the heart.
- Punctures – if the object is still lodged in the person’s body, do not remove it. Call 2000 immediately and request medical assistance.
- Fainting – if someone is about to faint, have them sit or lie down. If they have fainted in a seated position, steady them and put their head between their knees. If they have fallen to the ground, roll them to their back and elevate the legs 20‐30 cm. If someone sustained an injury during the fall, begins convulsing, or does not recover within two minutes, dial 2000 and request emergency medical assistance.
- Needle sticks – Rinse the wound for 15 minutes. Determine whether it is a ‘clean’ or potentially ‘dirty’ needle. If the needle was potentially contaminated with an infectious substance, advise the victim to immediately contact Occupational Health and Wellness (x52647) or Student Health Services (x52131) and seek medical treatment. Outside of regular hours, advise the victim to seek immediate medical treatment (i.e., Emergency Room). Prophylaxis for hepatitis and HIV must be started as soon as possible following exposure.
- Seizures – help the person to the floor and clear away nearby objects. Try to prevent the person from striking objects in the area and harming themselves during the seizure. Do not attempt to restrain the victim or force anything into their mouth. Placing any object in the mouth of a seizure victim only increases the likelihood of choking. Dial 2000 immediately and request medical assistance; be sure to inform them if the victim is having trouble breathing or any other relevant details.
For non‐critical injuries, notify your supervisor as soon as possible and ensure an Incident Report is submitted to OHW (Fax: (519) 780‐1796) within 24 hours. Incident Report Forms are available through the EHS website - https://www.uoguelph.ca/hr/hr-services/welcome-environmental-health-safety
Key areas to review:
- Activate eyewash stations weekly to flush out contaminants, discourage microbial growth and ensure the flow is adequate.
- Ensure the access to the emergency eyewash/shower is not obstructed.
- Check the fire extinguisher – it should be easy to access (i.e., unobstructed), and the pressure indicator should be in the green area of the gauge.
- Check the spill kit – it should contain neutralizers (usually 3 – acid, base, and organic solvent suppressant), absorbent materials, gloves, goggles, a dustpan/scraper or dustpan/broom and bags for waste material.
- Check first aid boxes – the kit should contain gloves, tweezers, scissors, adhesive bandages, tape, gauze, and pads or compress bandages.
- Visually inspect chemical storage areas to ensure there is no leakage and incompatibles are separated each month.
- Look for issues with unsecured gas cylinders, poor housekeeping, electrical hazards, and access to exits.
- Report any issues to your supervisor.
It is important that laboratory inspections be completed regularly to monitor and maintain the safety of each work area. In any given lab there can be a combination of physical, chemical, biological and radiological hazards ‐ diligence is required to control these hazards and keep the work environment safe.
Incident Report Form
Use this form after an accident. The form must be sent to the Food Science Department Safety Officer and the Chair.
The form can be found on the Environment Health and Safety website - https://www.uoguelph.ca/hr/hr-services/welcome-environmental-health-safety
Chemical / Sharps Disposal Request Form
Submit this requisition for chemical or sharps waste pickup to Environmental Health and Safety when you have materials ready for disposal.
The form can be found on the Environment Health and Safety website - https://www.uoguelph.ca/hr/hr-services/welcome-environmental-health-safety
Food Science Orientation Form
The orientation training of new personnel is documented on this form. The most current form is available from the Food Science Department Safety Officer when you arrange for your orientation.
The forms can be found on the Environment Health and Safety website - https://www.uoguelph.ca/hr/hr-services/welcome-environmental-health-safety
Lab Contact Information Form
Use this form when you need to update the contact information for the competent supervisor of a lab. The PDF form is available on the Food Science Department forms page.
Equipment Training Form
Use this form to document personnel training on laboratory equipment. The PDF form is available on the Food Science Department forms page.