Setting up a new lab?

Welcome to the University of Alberta!

At the university, we have a strong safety culture, and we thrive to hold our laboratories and research spaces to the highest safety standards. The Faculty of Engineering provides resources and support to all engineering spaces to achieve and comply with federal, provincial, and university policies.

This page will guide you through the safety aspect of setting up a new lab/research space and all the required steps that should be taken before starting any research activity.

New Principal Investigator/Supervisor?

At the University of Alberta, anyone directing the work of others is considered a supervisor. You may not be the principal investigator but may be designated to oversee the research/work being performed, and thus are a supervisor.

New Student?

This page will help you understand the University's Safety requirements for research spaces. If you are the designated safety coordinator for your lab, please also review the supervisory section of this website.

1. Primary Room Hazard Assessment
Every laboratory/research space is required to complete a space hazard assessment. This is done by completing a hazard identification for the room (example: compressed gasses, chemicals, physical hazards, etc). Preliminary hazard assessments are done using the laboratory registration option on Research Ethics & Management Online (REMO). The EHS tab, will allow you to create lab signs, amend signs, update lab registration, review lab audits conducted by Environment, Health, and Safety, and register equipment.
2. Personal Protective Equipment Checklist

Once the laboratory preliminary hazard assessment is complete and the laboratory is registered. Download this Personal Protective Equipment Checklist (PPE Checklist) and identify the PPE required to work in the space, this must be based on the room hazards.

The checklist provides a section for PPE exemptions. This can be utilizes to note any areas or PPE items exempted due to working constraints that will have to be justified by a detailed hazard assessment for that specific activity.

Note: The PPE Checklist must be signed by all laboratory users. You should also mention any specific exemptions or requirements on this.

3. Supervisory EHS Professional Development

Appropriate training must be provided to all new staff and students before they are given access to any equipment or space. The training must be provided by the supervisor or there designated trainer who is competent to providing adequate training.

The level of training needed depends on the equipment that will be operated and the overall hazards present in the work site (including laboratories). Training requirements are set based on hazards and departmental policies. Review the 'Departmental policies and procedures' page to find out the training requirements for your space.

Department of Environment, Health, and Safety offers online safety trainings. These can be accessed by any university staff, student, or faculty member. For visiting students or volunteers, please contact the Faculty Safety Advisor ( for access to the training portal.

Look at the Training and Competency page for more information. 

4. Laboratory Inspections

At the University of Alberta, safety is our culture. To assess the state of your work space/site inspections are helpful and needed. You will come across these types of inspections and audits.

Planned Inspection (Self-Inspection) Completed by laboratory staff
Faculty of Engineering Inspection Depending on laboratory compliance
Environment, Health, and Safety Audits Annual audits (by EHS)


For more detailed information please look at the Inspection & Maintenance page. 

5. Job/Equipment Hazard Assessment
A Hazard Assessments must be completed before any work activity is started. There are 5 key points to consider; the task your are working on, the hazards associated to that task, the per-control risk ratings, controls to mitigate risks involved with the task or activity, and finally the post control control risk ranking (lowered). The risk rankings are based on likeliness and consequences (L x C).

Consult the Hazard Management page for more detailed information.
6. Safe Work Procedure

This will help guide the users on how to perform tasks or how to operate a piece of equipment safely. SOPs/SWPs should be present for all equipment and tasks being carried out in a laboratory. Best practice would be to have the SOP/SWP available close to the work bench or equipment for reference.

Reference the documents and use the safe work procedure template to develop safe practices for the work you have planned.

Start with the task that you consider to be the most hazardous, and work your way through to the low risk tasks.

Field Level Risk Assessment

The Field Level Risk Assessment (FLRA) is conducted prior to commencing work i.e. before setting up equipment in preparation for an experiment, or before starting the experiment. FLRA should be conducted by all lab members involved in the experiment or task. Suitable control measures and safeguards should be put in place to address any hazards found during the risk assessment, before commencing any work.

FLRA ensures that all hazards involved in any task are addressed that may not have been addressed in a Safe Work Procedure/Standard Operating Procedure or a general hazard assessment. Here is the template for FLRA

7. Working Alone Plan

All laboratory and office spaces require a working alone plan/procedure. Should a need arise to work alone, this plan will assist you in doing so safely. Always try not to work alone, but if you must this plan will help you. Make sure you have a 'buddy' assigned while working alone. Your working alone plan must include a 'buddy system'. The buddy will check up on the individual working alone on a assigned frequency (example every hour). The individual working alone must inform their buddy when they have finished their work and leaving the site. The buddy must be someone that knows where the work site is, ideally your supervisor or a delegate, however you may choose any member of your team to be a buddy as well.

University of Alberta has created a safety app named 'UofA Safe'. This is available on both the Google Play Store and Apple AppStore. The app includes a working alone buddy system. The app will only work if you have internet access (cellular data or UWS).

See more on the Emergency Preparedness page. 

8. Incident Reporting

How to report an Incident:

1 - For serious incidents

The Government of Alberta requires that all "serious incidents" be reported immediately to Alberta Labour. Serious incidents include the following:

  • Injury or incident that results in the death of a worker
  • Injury or incident that results in worker admitted to hospital (as an inpatient)
  • Unplanned or uncontrolled explosion, fire, or flood that causes (or had the potential to cause) a serious injury
  • Collapse or failure of any part of a building or structure that is necessary for its structural integrity
  • Collapse of a hoist, crane, or derrick
To report a serious incident:
  1. Call the Control Centre: 780-492-5555.
  2. Report your incident, provide your phone number, and request a call back from the EHS on-call person
  3. Complete and submit an incident report.


2 - For all other incidents

  1. Complete and submit an incident report.
  2. Your supervisor will then be notified to complete the second part of the form.
  3. Is there a injury that requires professional medical attention?
    • STAFF must contact Human Resource Services.
    • STUDENTS & supervisors must notify the Workers' Compensation Board
  4. Follow up with your supervisor to make sure all reporting is complete.


Incident reporting allows us to observe trends and find opportunities to implement safe work practices at the university. Read about some of the lessons we've learned past incidents!