Chemical Safety General Information

The Chemical Safety Program incorporates the entire lifecycle of the chemical beginning with purchasing and ending with disposal. The aim is to ensure chemicals are used and handled properly to prevent injury, illness, disease, fire, explosions or property damage.

Chemical Safety General information

What are the Principal Investigator’s responsibilities?

The Principal Investigator is legally responsible for putting safety policies into effect. They must:

  • Ensure that safety policies are put into effect
  • Ensure that all users are made aware of all hazards known or reasonably foreseeable
  • Ensure that all users (staff, faculty, students and visitors) have the appropriate documented orientation and training for the specific hazardous material being handled and/or processes being performed
  • Follow proper procedures for disposal of hazardous waste
  • Ensure all incidents/accidents are reported via the UBC Centralized Accident Incident Reporting System (CAIRS)

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How to ensure the effectiveness of a fumehood?

A fume hood is an engineering control that protects the worker by capturing fumes, dusts, vapours, and gases generated inside the hood and discharging them safely. Storage of chemicals in the fumehood is NOT recommended. If a fumehood is to be used as chemical storage, it must be labelled as such, and cannot be used for active experiments. In addition, a notice posted on the fume hood must identify fume hoods that are being strictly used for perchloric acid or radiation.

In order to ensure the effectiveness of fume hoods, they are tested:

  • Before they are used
  • Annually
  • After repairs
  • When you suspect they are not working

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How to deal with spills, accidental releases and fires?

All Spills, Accidental Releases and Fires must be reported in the UBC Centralized Accident Incident Reporting System (CAIRS)

It is essential that every lab is equipped with a spill kit that is intended for the chemicals listed in the chemical inventory. The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) required to do a spill clean-up is dependent on the chemical and the hazards it poses. Having an up-to-date chemical inventory can ensure that the correct spill kit and PPE is in place. Below is a general spill clean-up procedure:

  1. Ensure personal safety
  2. You may respond to the spill if ALL the conditions below are satisfied:
  • The spill is small (<1 L)
  • You are trained in spill clean-up
  • You know the identity of the spill
  • You have the appropriate PPE
  • You have the appropriate spill kit
  • You feel confident
  1. Report the incident in the UBC Centralized Accident Incident Reporting System (CAIRS)

Note: If any of the conditions listed in step 2 are not satisfied or there is any doubt about safety responding to a spill, do not attempt to clean up the spill. Call 911 and Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services will notify the Hazmat Team.

There are many different classes of fires as seen below. It is important to know your chemical inventory to ensure that you have the correct extinguisher present in your lab to extinguish a fire.

Extinguisher Class Type of Fire
Class A Ordinary combustibles – Fires started with paper, wood, drapes and upholstery
Class B Flammable liquid – Fires originating from fuel oil, gasoline, paint, grease in a frying pan, solvents and other flammable liquids
Class C Electrical – Fires started with wiring, overheated fuse boxes, conductors, and other electrical sources
Class D Metal – Fires involving metals such as magnesium and sodium
Class K Cooking materials – Fires originating from cooking oils and fats


Most extinguishers on campus are ABC meaning they extinguish class A, B and C fires. Pyrophoric Metals require a Class D extinguisher.


Fire Extinguishers should be operated only if ALL the conditions below are satisfied:

  • You are trained
  • Have a clear exit behind you
  • Small, manageable fire
  • It is the correct type of extinguisher for the fire
  • You feel confident

If one extinguisher does not extinguish the fire then do not attempt to fight the fire with another extinguisher. Remove yourself from the area at this point.

Report all fires into the UBC Centralized Accident Incident Reporting System (CAIRS)

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How to find additional Chemical Safety Information?

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