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A student was working on a project in a workshop paint booth with the mechanical ventilation system operating. The student removed the model from the booth and upon returning observed 1-2' high flames coming from under the grating. The student notified the workshop manager who expended a 20 lb. ABC fire extinguisher however the extinguisher was not able to extinguish the fire. The door to the paint booth room was closed at which time the building fire alarm activated followed by the activation of the paint booth sprinkler which extinguished the fire. There were no injuries as a result of the fire.

Environmental Health and Safety has completed revisions to the workplace inspection procedure that includes a new administrative checklist. These items will enhance the inspection program for all areas on campus, whether you are working at a desk, in a classroom, outside, or in a lab. Health and safety is a priority for everyone.

Departmental OHSMS coordinators are asked to print a copy of the new workplace inspection procedure include it in their OHSMS Manual and inform managers and supervisors in their departments and units of this new resource. If you are in an administrative area, please also include the new administrative checklist.

In November 2016, a worker was decanting 10% neutral buffered formalin from a "cube" container into specimen jars. As the worker was decanting the fluid, the spigot broke and the formalin began to spill onto both the worker and the floor. The worker covered the opening with their gloved hand, and with assistance from another worker, they were able to position the container upright to prevent further spillage. The fume hood emergency purge button was pressed and the lab was evacuated for approximately ninety minutes to allow the odour to dissipate. Upon return, the spill was cleaned up using the University of Calgary spill kit.

At the university, fume hoods are installed in our laboratories to keep our faculty and staff safe. A lab fume hood is a ventilated enclosure, that provides local exhaust control, and in which harmful chemicals can be safely handled.

To ensure safety, fume hoods must be used properly. To this end, our insurers conduct an audit of our labs on an annual basis. The auditors have repeatedly identified an issue regarding a significant number of fume hoods being used for storage purposes at the university. Overcrowding fume hoods prevents the device from eliminating vapors efficiently presenting a hazard to the operator and others in the room. Non-compliance with auditor recommendations results in increased insurance premiums for the university. 

A new classroom safety course is mandatory for university employees, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows working in research laboratories. 

Working inside of a laboratory has the potential to expose the worker to a variety of hazardous materials and processes. To minimize the risk of adverse health effects, it is important that workers know; how to identify laboratory hazards, understand the hierarchy of controls and know how to implement the controls and where to find more information on University of Calgary specific procedures.