Special hazards

Hazards in laboratories vary as greatly as the research being conducted or the techniques being used. These hazards may present consequences that require extra attention in the form of regulatory compliance requirements or by following a UVic best practice.  

The following information has been created to offer some guidance on the more common special hazards on campus.

For more information, please contact OHSE at  or 250-721-8971.

Any staff, faculty, or students handling compressed gas cylinder should enrol in our training course.

Please review our Safe Work Procedure - Compressed Gas Cylinders Safe Handling and Use.

WorkSafeBC regulates the storage, preparation and administration of cytotoxic drugs, which are used primarily in health care settings for therapeutic purposes.

Cytotoxic drug means an agent that possesses a specific destructive action on certain cells or that may be genotoxic, oncogenic, mutagenic, teratogenic, or hazardous to cells in any way and includes most anti-cancer drugs. Also referred to as antineoplastics and chemotherapy.

Researchers at UVic using cytotoxic drugs should take all reasonable precautions to prevent exposure. The following outlines general procedures for the safe handling and use of cytotoxic agents:

  • All employees handling a cytotoxic drug must receive education and job specific training on the safe handling and use of this substance. Please refer to the OHSE training page.
  • Ensure all containers are labeled with the wording “Cytotoxic Agent”, or similar wording.
  • Place all cytotoxic wastes in a designated container provided by OHSE, and separate from other waste streams.
  • All mixing, preparation and priming of Administration Sets (e.g. syringe, IV set, or other device used for delivery of cytotoxic drug via injection) must be performed in one centralized area in a Class II Type B biosafety cabinet.
  • Adequate personal protective equipment must be worn whenever there is a risk of contact with a cytotoxic drug, including cytotoxic drug resistant gloves and a moisture resistant gown with cuffs.
  • All other activities with cytotoxic drugs must be performed in a fume hood.

For more information, please consult the Cytotoxic WorkSafeBC Guideline.

Hydrofluoric acid (HF) is a corrosive acid and is very hazardous since any exposure to HF can produce harmful health effects that can have delayed symptoms. Prevention of exposure or injury must be the primary goal when working with HF.

Any personnel handling HF must read the Safety Data Sheet (SDS), the documents listed below and receive job specific training on the hazards, safe handling, and emergency procedures.

Liquid nitrogen (LN2) is inert, colourless, odourless, non-corrosive, and extremely cold (boiling point of -196oC). The hazards associated with handling LN2 include cold burns and frostbite, asphyxiation, explosion due to over pressurization and fire hazard from oxygen-enriched air. 

Any personnel handling LN2 must read the Safety Data Sheet (SDS), the documents listed below and receive job specific training on the hazards, safe handling and dispensing, and emergency procedures.

Perchloric acid is a very strong oxidizing agent and strong acid. Even dilute solutions can, over time, reduce certain plastics to dust. Perchloric acid can form explosive mixtures with organic materials such as wood, paper, cardboard and many organic solvents. Clothing and rubber materials can become highly flammable if contaminated with perchloric acid. Perchloric acid vapours can condense to form perchlorate crystals, which are highly explosive and sensitive to physical shock. To reduce potential for vapours, no use of perchloric acid above room temperature is permitted.

Any personnel handling perchloric acid must read the Safety Data Sheet (SDS), the Safe Work Procedure listed below and receive job specific training on the hazards, safe handling, and emergency procedures.

The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) of Health Canada regulates the use of pest control products for research purposes.

A pest control product is an organism or a substance that is used as a means to directly or indirectly control, destroy, attract or repel a pest or to lessen or prevent its injurious, noxious or troublesome effects. This includes chemical products, microbial agents, semiochemicals, plant extracts or other natural products or food products and some devices.

Under the Pest Control Products Regulations (PCPR), there are three options on the requirements for conducting research:

  • Research authorization (e.g. all laboratory or field trials involving human subjects require authorization)
  • Research notification of pesticide research
  • Exemption from requiring either of the above options. (e.g. research conducted solely in a laboratory, not involving human test subjects is exempt)

To determine if your research on pest control products falls into one of the three options and if further approval is required from Health Canada, please contact OHSE at .