Set Up a Research Space

New Researchers

Are you a newly hired principal investigator (PI) who has not yet arrived at the university? Complete the new PI survey so we can help you get started with your research and teaching activities.

Working with Hazardous Materials

Before beginning work at the University of Alberta, researchers must first identify, assess and control hazardous materials, equipment and conditions.

Follow the steps below to ensure you and your team are prepared to work safely at the university.

Register Your Space: Hazards, Personnel + Equipment

Contact to set up an appointment to register your worksite in the HSE module of the ARISE database. You will need the following information:

  • Hazards used in the space (e.g., chemical, biological, radiological, UV, high voltage, etc.).
  • Personnel in the space.
  • Equipment in the space (e.g., lasers, x-rays, scintillation counters, biological safety cabinets, autoclaves).

Apply for Permits + Approvals

Work with the following types of hazardous materials at the U of A may require additional permits or approvals:

You must have approvals in place before beginning work with hazardous materials.

Secure Your Space

Ensure that your space can be secured while work is underway and at the end of the day. Doors must be closed while individuals are in the space and closed and locked while the space is unoccupied for the following reasons:

Prevent Theft, Secure Research + Increase Personal Safety

Closing and locking doors deters property theft, prevents unwanted visitors and protects research data and information. 

Comply with Regulations

The following government regulators require laboratory doors to be closed and/or locked:

  • Public Health Agency of Canada
  • Canadian Food Inspection Agency
  • Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
  • Government of Alberta (Fire Code)

Failure to comply with regulations may result in the suspension of research and funding.

Prevent Fires

Closed doors slow the spread of fire and help to protect room contents. A locked door does not impede fire response. First responders use master keys to enter a space.

Facilitate Ventilation

Ventilation systems are designed to meet the needs of a laboratory; open doors may alter airflow. Close the door to the laboratory to ensure efficient air exchange and to stabilize temperature and other comfort parameters.

Protect + Monitor Your Health

Before you start work, consider the health ramifications of your work and if you have implemented appropriate control measures. 

HSE offers the following services to assist with injury and illness prevention:

  • audiometric testing.
  • personal radiation monitoring (dosimetry).
  • health assessments related to pregnancy or change in immune status.
  • vaccination consultation.
  • post-exposure response planning.
  • reporting and tracking laboratory-acquired infections.

Medical Surveillance

Post Hazard Signage

All locations that house hazardous materials must have hazard signage on the door to the hallway. Signage illustrates what hazards are in a space and what personal protective equipment is required. In an emergency, first responders may also rely on signage for contact information and to understand the hazards in the space.

Create, Print + Update Hazards Signs

Once your group is registered in the database, you can print your own hazard signage:

  1. Register in the HSE database.
  2. Print your hazard signage in colour. Follow the instructions on page 26 in the applicant manual . If you don’t have access to a colour printer, contact
  3. Update signage as hazards change. Once you have amended the information in the database, print new signage.

If you will be working with lasers or x-rays, additional signage may be required.

HSE Database

Prepare Safety Documents

Complete the following documentation and have it readily available for review by your research team or by HSE inspectors:

  1. Unit action plan/emergency response plan.
  2. Working alone procedure.
  3. Hazard assessment.
  4. Safe operating procedures for your processes.
  5. Training records.

Forms + Documents

Complete Training

Anyone conducting university-related activities must be trained and competent to do so. Before beginning work:

  1. do a training needs assessment.
  2. take the training.
  3. demonstrate competency.


Set up Hazardous Waste Collection

Research groups that generate hazardous waste should enroll in CHEMATIX, a web-based system to manage waste disposal. Based on CHEMATIX input, HSE will schedule waste pickup and transfer for the university. 

Increase Safety in Shared Spaces

Assign Responsibility

Assign a safety designate for the shared space. This person should be a member of one of the research groups in the space and may be a chair, director, supervisor, foreman or senior principal investigator. A safety designate is responsible for:

  • coordinating communication efforts.
  • organizing shared tasks such as eye washing, lab inspections and equipment preventative maintenance.
  • overseeing the development of a lab orientation and lab emergency procedures.

Communicate Between Groups

Communicate to ensure that all members in a shared space are made aware of rules, responsibilities, hazards, controls and other important items. Effective methods of communication include group meetings, notice boards, signage and orientations.

Be Accountable

Health and safety is everyone’s responsibility. The safety designate and other supervisors must assign shared space responsibilities to occupants, monitor completion, set deadlines and hold personnel accountable to those deadlines. With everyone working together towards the same goal, everyone involved will benefit.


Employees, Students


Safety & Security

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