Moving to a centralized chemical inventory and hazardous waste management (CIHWM) system

2 April 2024

Health, safety and environment (HSE) is embarking on a safety initiative that will enable the university to more effectively manage its chemical materials inventories and hazardous waste disposal via a centralized Chemical Inventory & Hazardous Waste Management (CIHWM) system.



Timeline 2024/25

In calendar year quarters

Call out for Pilot Group participants 

Contact the project team if you are interested in experiencing and testing the system during the development phase. Please note: not everyone will be selected based on pilot group size
Complete in Q2

Quarterly Town Halls 

Overview of project accomplishments, milestones and timelines

Beginning in Q2


Summer student assistance 

Enlisting summer students to help chemical laboratories transition inventory from current state (Excel, hardcopy, Chematix) to software system

Over Q2 and Q3

System testing and training 

Detailed user acceptance testing and system training will be provided by the project and HSE teams

Complete in Q4

Go live readiness  

Check in with chemical laboratories to ensure people are ready to use the new software system

Complete in Q4

Phased system roll out

System roll out will happen in phases across 1,600 chemical labs and the institution

Beginning in Q4

Ongoing into 2025


Note: Calendar year quarters are broken down into:

  • January, February, and March (Q1)
  • April, May, and June (Q2)
  • July, August, and September (Q3)
  • October, November, and December (Q4)

On Site Systems selected as the vendor

On Site Systems has implemented chemical inventory and hazardous waste management software systems across many universities including Memorial University, University of Manitoba, University of Chicago, University of Missouri. On Site Systems will deliver a software solution, ongoing maintenance services, and data storage for the university and its labs. On Site Systems will work closely with HSE leads to ensure training, documentation and support is provided to help transition labs from their current inventory methods to the new, centralized software inventory management system. 

Engagement & Planning

In the planning phase of the project, the HSE team engaged in thoughtful and methodical research and documentation activities to understand the landscape across other Canadian academic institutions, our own U of A laboratories and vendor alternatives. Activities are listed and outlined below:



U15 Institutional Survey conducted by University of Alberta  

Check in with Canada’s U15 institutions to assess best practises

2021 - 2022

U of A Chematix and Chemical Inventory Users Survey 

Identify current state and areas of improvement with participating labs

March 2022

Hazardous Materials Management Program Review Report 

Summary of the U of A current state and planned improvements

Dec 2022

User Needs Assessment Focus Groups with various lab participants to develop the Business Requirement Document 

Determine desired requirements for a centralized software system

August 2023

Request for Proposal (RFP) Process 

Announce project, collect and assess vendor bids

Sept - Dec 2023

Vendor Selection (On Site Systems) 

Vendor evaluated based on meeting  business requirements

Jan 2024


Project Team

  • Philip Stack - Director, HRHSE - Health, Safety and Environment
  • Michelle Rooker - Manager, Inspections & Technical Services - Health, Safety and Environment
  • Greg Hodgson - Manager, Environment & Support Services - Health, Safety and Environment
  • Tashie Macapagal - Project Manager, IST
  • Slava Francis - Senior Organizational Change Management Specialist, IST

Questions & Answers

What is changing and why?

The University of Alberta is moving to a centralized chemical inventory and waste management system. A centrally funded and mandatory chemical inventory program is a best practice in reducing risk associated with using, storing and disposing of hazardous materials.

Why is the change happening now?

Currently, the University does not have a comprehensive and mandatory chemical inventory management program.  

Although labs are required to document all chemicals used, stored and disposed of through the lab there is no institutional IT solution that effectively links all aspects of chemical management from procurement, inventorying, use, storage and disposal of hazardous chemicals.

When is this change happening?

The change will happen in phases starting this summer with the Pilot Project. Learning from the Pilot Project will be gathered in preparation for a phased roll out due to begin by the end of 2024 and into 2025. 

How will I be impacted? What does this change mean for my lab?

You will be engaged every step of the way to ensure you are prepared, trained and ready to use the new On Site Systems software within your lab. The project team will be communicating with you via newsletter, town halls, training sessions and pulse checks to ensure your voice is heard and your questions are answered. 

Specific activities will include:

  • Attending town hall meetings where you will get an overview of project milestones, plans and timelines   
  • Inspecting your inventory, discarding items that are no longer needed by your research group or are showing signs of damage/decay
  • Reviewing current inventory system to ensure that the inventory is accurate and matches what is on the shelves
  • Barcoding current chemical inventory and importing updated inventory data into the software system 
  • Receiving support and training provided by the HSE team

Will I incur costs during this transition period?

HSE will consult with individual labs and based on the lab, HSE will provide the necessary tools. There will be no direct costs associated with this project to the labs, costs will be covered by HSE and will include labels, equipment and more. 

If a lab chooses to purchase their own equipment, they may do so and the associated costs should be minimal. 

How will the roll out happen?

A timeline will be presented with specific activities on what you need to do to prepare yourself and your lab for the transition to the On Site Systems software. 

What are the benefits for me?

There are many benefits for your lab, and the institution, to using a centralized chemical inventory and management solution including:

  • Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of chemical inventory management
  • Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of hazardous waste pick-up and disposal
  • Reducing the likelihood of improper storage, maintenance and adverse events associated with hazardous materials including serious injury or fatality or infrastructure damage
  • Improve overall health and safety practices in the inventorying and management of hazardous materials
  • Enhancing safety within laboratory settings
  • Enhancing the safety of HSE Waste Management Technicians
  • Enhancing research efficiency and outcomes

What are the risks of not changing?

These are risks of not changing, and they are:

  • Costs and the need for special third-party hazardous waste disposal
  • Non-compliance with legislation
  • Negative outcomes to teaching and research
  • Damage to university reputation

Stay Connected 

The project team is here to support you through this transition. Please contact the project team via with any questions, comments or concerns related to this project.