Health and safety

The safety of our staff, faculty, students and visitors is paramount. Due to the nature of the activities which take place in our facilities, familiarity with our health and safety resources and training is vital for all students and staff.

Visit the Safety Office.

In case of emergency call:

  • Ambulance 911
  • Fire alarms pull station for fire department
  • UW Health Services ext. 33544
  • UW Police ext. 22222
  • Plant Operations ext. 33793
  • Poison Control Centre or 1-800-268-9017

NOTE: In the event of any incident involving personal injury or illness, the Safety Office must be notified within 24 hours of the occurrence via the Incident & Investigation report. For more information on what to do in the event of an emergency, see Safety Office Emergency Procedures.

In case of spills

Contact UW Safety Office ext. 35755 with any questions or for assistance. Follow these procedures for biological, chemical and radioactive materials. 

Prior to working with hazardous materials:

  • Determine spill procedures from Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for all chemicals.
  • All University of Waterloo (UW) employees and students handling hazardous materials are required to be trained in spill procedures.
  • Obtain proper spill kits and clean up equipment. These are available from Chemistry Stores in Earth Sciences and Chemistry (ESC) 109.

Small spills that pose no immediate threat to health:

  • Notify occupants in the immediate area of the spill.
  • Use spill kits to absorb and contain according to spill procedure.
  • Place material in a secure and ventilated area.
  • Contact Safety Office at ext. 35755 for disposal instructions.

Large spills or spills that pose an immediate threat to health:

  1. Remove sources of ignition if possible.
  2. Evacuate immediate area.
  3. CallUW POLICE ext. 519-888-4911 or ext. 22222.

Accidents, near misses or unsafe conditions

  • Notify CEE HSE Coordinator, Victor Lewis x 30485, or a Departmental Health & Safety Committee member.

  • All members of the University community must report to their supervisor any injury or illness related to their work or assignments (includes University of Waterloo walkways, parking lots and field sites). It is the supervisor's responsibility to ensure that prompt first aid and health care treatment is obtained, if necessary, and that an Injury/Incident Report is submitted within 24 hours

Incident Investigations

Investigations are required to be performed by supervisors for the following types of incidents:

  • Fatality
  • Incident or near-miss with potential for serious loss              
  • Critical injury
  • Incident involving possible public liability 
  • Lost time injury and/or illness
  • Equipment, machinery or property damage in excess of $2000
  • Medical aid injury
  • Chemical spill or accidental environmental release
  • Acute occupational illness
  • Fire or explosion

See the Safety Office Incident Management program


Roles and Responsibilities of various parties during incident investigations:


  • Facilitate the implementation of corrective actions identified through the process of incident investigation.


  • Respond to incidents immediately, including obtaining emergency medical attention for a worker.

  • Conduct investigations of hazardous situations, medical aid and lost time injuries effectively and in a timely manner

  • Implement corrective actions to eliminate or reduce hazards

  • Ensure that the Safety Office is notified of an incident involving bodily injury within 24 hours of the occurrence.

  • Ensure that appropriate training is provided to all workers.

  • Protect the safety of employees, students, public, equipment and facilities from further injury or damage.

  • Address workplace hazards or potential health and safety concerns

  • Be familiar with the requirements and principles of incident investigation

  • Request additional assistance or expertise of the Safety Office as needed


  • Report all incidents, hazards, injuries or Occupational Illnesses to their supervisor, including near misses.

  • Participate in incident investigations to assist in identifying causes and corrective actions.

Safety Office

  • Administer the Incident Management Program and oversee the management of incidents.

  • Liaise with external government agencies, where required 

  • Notify an appropriate JHSC worker member and provide a report to the Ministry of Labour and the JHSC where a person is killed or critically injured

  • Notify an appropriate JHSC worker member of all workplace injuries resulting in medical aid or time lost from work.

  • Participate in incident investigations when requested, or for where further investigation is warranted (see s. 6.0 - Monitoring)

  • Provide technical and best practice advice in incident management

  • Provide incident investigation training

  • Follow up on Incident & Investigation Reports, corrective actions implemented and/or provide recommendations where indicated

  • Notify the University Secretary & Legal Counsel of any workplace fatality, critical injury or high severity incident

Joint Health & Safety Committee (JHSC) Worker Members

  • Investigate incidents as required, in particular where a worker is killed or critically injured.

  • Submit a report to the Ministry of Labour where a worker is killed or critically injured.

  • Consult on corrective actions to reduce or eliminate workplace hazards

  • Receive reports on workplace incidents and follow up as necessary through the request of further information, further investigation, or recommendations to management.

UW Police

  • Provide emergency response and first aid if required

  • Assume control of an incident scene where a worker has been critically injured or killed.

  • Notify the Safety Office immediately where a worker has been critically injured or killed, or in the event of any other critical incident (significant property damage, fire, hazardous materials incident).