Laboratory work can vary widely in the type of materials, processes, and equipment that is required.  As such, this guide helps faculty members, laboratory managers, and laboratory directors understand how to manage and ensure the facilities, equipment, and apparatus needed is used and maintained in a manner that minimizes risks to those who use them.


Laboratory facility - building infrastructure and items that are fixed in place.  Examples include:

  • Eyewash and Safety Shower systems

  • Fume hoods

  • HVAC systems
  • Water and electrical services
  • Fire extinguishers

Equipment - machinery or devices that require infrastructure change to accommodate its use.  Examples of infrastructure change include:

  • Secured to flooring by bolting or welding to building roofs, walls, floors, or suspended from ceilings
  • Cutting holes through roofs, walls, floors, or ceilings
  • Requires the extension of electrical or mechanical services for its operation
  • A power supply in excess of 5 kW 120/208 V single phase or 20 kW at 600 V three phase
  • Door frames, ceilings, floors or walls, must be modified to bring the equipment in

Furthermore, items with the following characteristics also require infrastructure change, and are thus considered equipment.

  • Has a gross weight of over 100 lbs per square foot when floor or roof mounted
  • Has a gross weight of over 200 lbs when wall mounted
  • Has a gross weight of over 10 lbs per square foot when suspended from the ceiling
  • Will create vibration or nuisance noise during its use

Laboratory Apparatus - specialized devices or instruments that do not require infrastructure change to accommodate its use.  Examples include 


In general, infrastructure and equipment are maintained by plant operations, while laboratory apparatus is the responsibility of the owner.  Below are some descriptions outlining the changes

Plant Operations

Plant operations is responsible for maintaining these types of systems.  Examples of this include:

  • Annual inspections for fume hoods
  • Lighting installation and maintenance
  • Pressure testing for autoclaves
  • Repair of leaky pipes or roof systems
  • Monthly inspection of fire extinguishers

Installation and Maintenance of Equipment

Installation of equipment is pursuant to Policy 22.  Equipment should not be purchased or installed unless consultation and permission has been granted by Plant Operations.  This policy is to ensure that the facilities required for the equipment being purchased are appropriate.

In order to request maintenance for equipment or facilities, you can contact plant operations by calling their 24 hour contact number at extension 33793 or 518-888-4813.

Supervisor or Faculty Member

Electrical Safety Accreditation

The responsibility to ensure equipment or lab apparatus that requires electrical power has been certified by the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) for use with power systems in Ontario lies with the person ordering the device.

If the equipment arrives to the university without ESA certification, the equipment must be inspected by the ESA or an equivalent approved authority before the equipment can be used.  When purchasing unapproved new equipment, accreditation can be arranged by Procurement and Contract Services.

  • Note – It is ALWAYS more economical to arrange for accreditation prior to arrival of the equipment on campus.
  • ESA Contact information:

Machine Guarding

Devices, equipment and apparatus that have exposed moving parts require guards to limit contact with these parts.  In most cases an evaluation must be made to address the level of hazard and need for guarding. 

Most laboratory equipment is purchased with appropriate guards, however it is the supervisor’s responsibility to ensure that the guarding in place is protective of workers operating the equipment.  Furthermore, once guards have been put in place, they are not to be moved or altered by any person other than those trained and authorized to perform work on the machines without guards.

More specific information on machine guarding can be found in the following six short videos developed by the Workplace Safety and Prevention Services of Ontario:

WSPS also publishes a guideline focused on Machine Safety.  This publication can be opened using the link below:

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and Training

Any equipment or laboratory apparatus in use must be accompanied with an SOP or a use guide outlining how the equipment should be used based upon the anticipated use.  

Furthermore, each person using the equipment or apparatus shall be trained on the function and use of any equipment or apparatus they are expected to use.  This responsibility falls onto the Supervisor ort Faculty Member in charge of the lab. 


The Safety Office has created some generic fact sheets on the use of certain laboratory apparatus.  These are presented below.  Please review and use for creating your laboratory specific SOPs.


Biosafety Cabinets



Fume Hoods


Gloves Boxes

Heating Baths

Heating Mantles

Hot Plates



Regulators and Cylinder Safety Devices

Rotary Evaporators

Solvent Stills