Chemical Safety

The Chemical Safety Program establishes the requirements workers, supervisors, and other stakeholders must undertake to reduce risk when working with chemicals.

  • Researchers shall complete the Laboratory Risk Assessment processes outlined in this program; or refer to previously completed and relevant risk assessments before work with chemicals is undertaken.
  • Non-research chemical users shall refer to Job Hazard Analysis to identify and manage the risks associated with chemical work. By understanding the risks associated when working with chemicals, it becomes clearer to what level a hazard must be controlled. 

See the Chemical Safety Program for more information.


Training involves in-person and online course work. Training for chemical safety is divided into non-research and research work.

Non-research work

At minimum, training in these cases will involve the following:


In-person training performed by the supervisor or a competent delegate:

  • Outlines hazards and what precautions should be taken when using, storing, handling and disposing of chemicals
  • Demonstration of processes outlined in the SOP

Research work


In-person delivered by supervisors or competent delegate:

  • Orientation relating to chemical handling, storage and disposal – to be performed annually in-person
  • Orientation specific to emergency response – to be performed annually and in-person
  • Orientation on use of the lab’s chemical inventory
  • Orientation on how to identify hazards, assess risks, and implement controls for work involving the use of chemicals


Chemicals should be separated by hazard class and stored in separate cabinets. When that is not possible, the following guidelines can be used. Despite the storage class, the basic principles as described in the Storage Guidelines apply.

Storage Class Definition Poster and Resources
A - Organic Basis

Contain nitrogen or amino groups.

e.g., hydoxylamine, tetramethylethylamine, diamine, thiethylamine

A - Guidance
B - Pyrophoric and Water Reactive

Liquids or solids upon contact with air or water will either spontaneously ignite or react

e.g., lithium, potassium metals, sodium borohydride, zinc dust, alkyl lithium solutions

B - Guidance
C - Inorganic Bases

Inorganic bases normally contain a hydroxide group and accept hydrogen ions from other substances. Their general action is the corrosion of metals and destruction of living tissue.

e.g., sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, ammonium hydroxide

C - Guidance
D - Organic Acids

Organic acids are acids that contain a carbon-hydrogen backbone. Are often the weaker of acids.

e.g., formic acid, acetic acid, propionic acid

D - Guidance
E - Oxidizers

Oxidizers are substances that readily release oxygen or another oxidizing substance (chlorine, bromine, or fluorine).

e.g., nitrates, nitrites, permanganates, chlorates

E - Guidance
F - Inorganic Acids

An inorganic acid is a compound of hydrogen and one or more other element (with the exception of carbon) that dissociates or breaks down to produce hydrogen ions when dissolved in water or other solvents. Often the “stronger” acids.

e.g., hydrochloric acid, chromic acid, phosphoric acid

F - Guidance
G - Compatible with Anything

Materials used with no special hazards.

e.g., agars, sodium chloride, amino acids

G - Guidance
K - Explosives or Other Highly Unstable

May detonate or cause extreme reactions upon shock or heating.

e.g., trinitrophenol, picric acid dry

K - Guidance
L - Non-Reactive Flammable and Combustibles

Flammable liquids have a flashpoint below 100°F. Combustible liquids have a flashpoint above 100°F. Materials that can catch fire and burn at working temperatures or above work temperatures.

e.g., ethanol, methanol, hexane, carbon, charcoal

L - Guidance
OA - Oxidizing Acids and Inorganic Peroxides

Highly reactive and gives off oxygen and other oxidizing substances. They can intensify combustion during a fire. Corrosive.

E.g., nitric acid, perchloric acid, sulfuric acid

OA - Guidance
X - Organic Peroxides

Highly flammable and explosive due to the formation of peroxides. Very sensitive to shock, sparks, light, strong oxidizers, reducing agents, frictions, and high temperatures.

e.g., benzoyl peroxide, methyl ethyl ketone peroxide, tert butyl hydroperoxide, acetyl peroxide

X - Guidance
Download all storage resources.

Hazardous chemicals (fact sheets)

The following fact sheets and resources are available for various hazardous chemicals used across campus.

Other relevant programs/websites


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