Chemical Safety

The Queen's policy statement on Environmental Management outlines the University's commitment to the protection of the environment through the implementation of an effective Environmental Management Program. An important aspect of this program is the proper handling, storage, and disposal of all hazardous chemicals generated on campus.

Chemicals are used at Queen's University for various purposes ranging from cleaning products to research and teaching applications. All of these chemicals must be used, stored and handled properly or they can cause injury, illness, disease, fire, explosions, or damage to University property. Prior to using any chemicals you must be aware of the hazards and the appropriate precautions that need to be taken in order to work safely and avoid injury.

Training is an important step to keep everyone safe from the chemical hazards present on the University. WHMIS training is mandatory for all faculty, staff and students who work with or are in proximity of chemicals. 

Under WHMIS all products classified as hazardous are required to have a Safety Data Sheet (SDS). SDSs provide detailed information for handling, storage and emergency procedures for the hazardous material. Chemwatch is used by Queen's University to provide access to SDSs for hazardous materials.

Chemical Policies and Procedures

For information and assistance contact Tom Martinek at 74976 or email

Personal protective equipment, commonly referred to as PPE, is equipment that is worn to minimize exposure to hazards that have the potential to cause workplace injuries and illnesses. These injuries or illnesses may be a result from chemical, radiological, physical, electric, mechanical, or other hazards. Personal protective equipment includes items such as gloves, respirators, lab coats and foot wear. It's important to remember that PPE is the last defense, you should strive to reduce all hazards through elimination, substitution, engineering controls and/or administrative controls before considering PPE.  

Glove Selection

Glove protection is the last line of defense against a skin-uptake of hazardous materials, it is essential to ensure that the appropriate glove is selected. There are many types of gloves and each one is good for certain chemicals and useless for others. It is important to investigate the suitability and limitations of glove material prior to the initiation of any new laboratory procedure. It would also be prudent to review any existing protocol that requires the use of protective gloves.

To help you with matching a particular hazard with the appropriate protective glove consult with personnel in Environmental Health and Safety or check the following websites:

Respirator Selection

Respirator use should not be considered unless all other means of reducing the risk have been exhausted. To find a suitable respirator for you, check the following links below:

Lab Coat Selection

Lab coats are knee-length outer coats or smocks worn to protect street clothes and skin from contamination from chemical, radiological, or biological agents. The design also provides protection from spills, sprays and other releases of fine particles and liquids. 

Foot Protection Selection

In workplaces, falling or rolling objects, exposed energized electrical conductors, chemical or corrosive contact, burns, hot or cold environments or other hazards can create a potential for foot injury. Whenever practicable, these hazards shall be eliminated or reduced through the use of proper engineering and/or administrative controls. To protect against those hazards that continue to exist after all such control measures have been implemented, appropriate footwear must be used. 


Research Equipment/Furniture Decommissioning

Any research equipment and furniture that may have been in contact with or may contain chemical, biohazardous or radioactive substances, must be decommissioned by Environmental Heath & Safety prior to disposal. Queen's University must ensure that all environmental hazards are removed in order to comply with existing regulations and to prevent any spread of contaminants into the environment.

There is no cost to individual departments, but a few simple procedures must be followed.

Decommissioning Steps:

1. Prepare a list of all items
  • identify the item
  • the make, model and serial number of each item is required
  • include location of item(s)
2. Assist with the decommissioning
  • Equipment that was used for radioactive materials must be swiped and a copy of the swipe records attached to equipment. Original copy of swipe records must be kept with laboratory radioactive records.
  • Equipment used in a biohazard laboratory must be thoroughly decontaminated using the appropriate disinfectant.
  • assemble all equipment in one place (if possible)
  • supply operators manual etc. for equipment (if available)
  • provide a contact name of the user/operator (if known)
3. Fill out and submit the Decommissioning Request Form

Access the Decommissioning Request Form . Please download the PDF, complete it and email it to safety@queensu.caOnce a Decommissioning Request Form has been submitted a safety technician will then decommission the equipment and you may make the arrangements for final disposal. For further information call Tom Martinek at 74976 or email

4. Arrange for final disposal

Once the safety technician decommissions the furniture/equipment the item is ready for disposal. Disposal arrangements for unwanted items can be made by filling out the appropriate Physical Plant Services form. Please note that there are separate forms for electronic waste pick ups and furniture pick ups. PPS no longer accepts phone calls, emails or faxed requests for furniture and ewaste pick ups. Purtell schedules these pick ups weekly on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

NOTE: There will be no pickup unless Environmental Health and Safety decommissions all items bound for disposal

Laboratory Closeout Procedure

  • Download the Laboratory Decommissioning Procedures Checklist (PDF 21.6 KB)
  • Perform the steps that apply to your laboratory
  • Sign the form and have the Department Head review and sign
  • Send the completed form to the Department of Environmental Health and Safety
  • Environmental Health and Safety will inspect the laboratory to ensure that all conditions of this policy have been met.
  • The completed approved form will be returned to the Department Head. Renovations may not begin, nor a new researcher take possession of the laboratory until the closeout has been approved by the Department of Environmental Health and Safety

ChemWatch and ChemFFX

Queen's University offers real-time electronic SDS reference through ChemFFX. ChemFFX is a database developed and maintained by ChemWatch®. The Backpack module contains sophisticated search engines and extensive details on thousands of chemicals. This data is commonly presented as either Chemwatch written (Gold) Safety Data Sheets or Vendor (supplier) written SDSs or both. The Chemwatch written SDSs are often preferable because they're more detailed, are available in multiple languages and are in a consistent format for easy reading. The Backpack module contains sophisticated search engines and extensive details on thousands of chemicals.

ChemFFX can be used on desktop computers as well as mobile devices. After hours, for an MSDS sheet when a computer or the internet is unavailable you can contact Queen's Campus Security at 613-533-6733 (non emergency line).


ChemWatch Reference Sheet

ChemWatch SDS Login 

For specific ChemFFX or ChemWatch information and assistance contact Ben Fiegen at 75119 or email

Benefits of the HECHMET Chemical Inventory System

All hazardous chemicals at Queen's are entered in the centralized, comprehensive hazardous material inventory (HECHMET) to better prevent, prepare, and respond to hazardous materials events.  University administrators will have ongoing access to the hazardous materials inventory to ensure compliance to regulations, improved communications, and due diligence to occupational health and safety requirements.  For the first responder community, the software now allows remote secure access to the information required to initiate a safe response to any type of HAZMAT incident at the university.  

Researchers within a particular inventory group (a group is usually a department) will have access to view the inventories of colleagues within their group, thus facilitating the sharing of resources where appropriate.

Lab Personnel Procedures Associated with the Inventory System

  1. Chemicals are ordered through the normal process for your area but they are shipped to the HECHMET Inventory Stores Technician in Chernoff Hall room 109 (as described below) where they are barcoded and entered into the inventory for the room to which they will ultimately be delivered.  Chemicals are then delivered to the loading dock or office in the appropriate department for subsequent delivery to the lab.  
  2. If you receive a chemical without a barcode then contact the Inventory Stores Technician to obtain one. Ben Fiegen at 75119 or email
  3. When you dispose of the chemical it will be scanned by the person who picks up the container for disposal, and thereby removed from the inventory for your location.   If you need to use the container for another purpose then the barcode must be sent to the Inventory Stores Technician so that it can be removed from the inventory.
  4. If you want to know whether another laboratory in your inventory group has a chemical that you need, you can view their inventory by logging into the system.  See the links to the system and to the user guide below.
  5. If you need to transfer a chemical to another lab then the Inventory Stores Technician must be notified.   Note that this applies when the chemical is going to remain in the lab, not when it is just shared for a day.   If you wish to transfer only some of a chemical to another lab in a separate container then that container must be appropriately labeled and you must obtain a bar code for it that is associated with the new location in the inventory.
  6. Physical audits will be conducted periodically by personnel from the Department of Environmental Health and Safety to confirm the accuracy of the inventory of various locations and make corrections where necessary.
  7. For questions regarding the inventory system and its process please contact the Inventory Stores Technician, Ben Fiegen at 75119 or email

Ordering and Shipment

Individuals/Departments continue to order hazardous materials through the current process utilized within their area.

All hazardous materials must be shipped to Chernoff Hall room 109, where they will be assigned a barcode and entered into the Hazardous Chemical Materials Inventory database (HECHMET). 

PLEASE NOTE – whereas the shipping address is Chernoff Hall, the point of contact provided when placing your order must be the Department, Researcher, Building, and Room # of the final destination of the chemical.  If this information is not indicated, we will not know where to ship the chemical once it is received by EH&S Inventory Stores Technician at Chernoff Hall.

Building and lab #    (e.g. Botterell Hall 535)

Queen’s University Chemistry Department

90 Bader Lane, Rm #109

Chernoff Hall

Kingston, Ontario

K7L 3N6

Chemical Inventory System Login  **Please Note: If you are logging in while working remotely you must be connected to VPN

Vertére Inventory Management System - User Guide (PDF 2.51 MB)

Individuals and organizations need to register in the Controlled Goods Program to examine, possess or transfer controlled goods in Canada.

For specific Controlled Goods information and assistance contact Tom Martinek at 74976 or email

Certification of Destruction of Controlled Substances (PDF 187 KB)

If there is an exposure incident for which you have a Standard Operating Procedure that indicates you should contact Walsh and Associates during normal business hours, contact their main office in Belleville at 613-966-4114.

  • Outside of those defined incident types, or if unable to contact Walsh and Associates, if there is an exposure incident requiring urgent medical attention then workers should go to the Kingston Health Sciences Centre – Kingston General Hospital (KHSC – KGH) Emergency. Location of the Emergency Room Entrance (Google Maps) at Kingston General Hospital.

Routine chemical hazard related matters:

Queen's employees and students working in or around laboratories with chemical hazards may use the services of the Walsh and Associates Occupational Health Services clinic for routine matters such as:

  • respiratory assessments related to respirator use for those with certain medical conditions
  • medical counselling as necessary for certain hazards for which a Queen’s SOP has been written

For more informationincluding how to make appointments or how to create an SOP for specific potential hazard exposure incidents, see the document describing Walsh and Associates Occupational Health Services. (PDF 471 KB)