Health and Safety



The University has an ethical as well as a legal responsibility to provide a safe environment in which to study and work. In addition, the University strives to foster the development of a safety consciousness in all members of the University community for the purpose of minimizing the risk of injury to persons or the damage to property or facilities.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act is the primary legislation governing workplace health and safety in Ontario. The Act is designed to protect workers against health and safety hazards. It outlines the rights and responsibilities of all parties in the workplace; it establishes procedures to deal with workplace hazards; and it provides enforcement of the law when compliance has not been achieved voluntarily.

Emergency Information

Campus Emergency Phone Numbers

  • Police/Fire/Ambulance from campus phone: 911
  • Police/Fire/Ambulance from cell phone: 519-661-3300 (Directs through University Police Dispatch)
  • Facilities Management Service Centre: 519-661-3304 or extension 83304

Note: if a phone is not available – the elevator phones provide immediate access to Facilities Management Service Centre/work hours, or Campus Police/ off hours

Location of Emergency Equipment

Know the location of emergency equipment nearest you (Safety Showers, Eye Wash Stations, Chemical Spill Kits, Fire Pull Stations, Fire Extinguishers, Exits, telephone, etc.)

Location of Biology First Aid Kits and First Aid Representatives

First Aid Kits


Location of First Aid Kit

First Aid Rep


Second floor Autoclave Room (BGS 2071)
Third Floor Autoclave Room (BGS 3071)

Kim Loney


Inside Upper Potting Room

Julia Nowak


Outside Room 310

Ryan Maar

Western Science

Inside MGU Core (WSC 357)

Gurpreet Dhami


Outside Room 104

Sharla Thompson


In prep Room 318 and Prep Room 329

Macon Coleman

Field Station

Building Number 1

Grant Edwards and
Caroline Rasenberg


First floor by the bridge entrance

Kyle Doward

Biology Safety and Emergency Response Group

Safety is a shared responsibility between you, your co-workers and your supervisor. You must know your own rights and responsibilities but you also have the Biology Safety Officer, Gurpreet Dhami,  and the Biology SERG (Safety and Emergency Response Group) as a resource to assist you. The function of SERG is to:

  • serve as Emergency Coordinators for their respective areas. Including selecting, appointing, coordinating and instructing emergency marshals responding to building emergency evacuations
  • serve as first point of contact and dissemination of safety information and UWO safety policy for department members in their areas
  • develop Safety policy, guidelines and responses within the department through semiannual or quarterly meetings with other SERG members
  • act as guides/hosts for the JOHSC team during annual safety inspections.

SERG Representatives for Each Building


Gurpreet Dhami x 86406


Kim Loney x 81322

Western Science

Gurpreet Dhami x 86406


Sharla Thompson cell: 226-378-3931


Winona Gadapati x81141

Field Station

Grant Edwards 519-902-5704

Accident Reporting

All accidents, incidents and close calls, which in another set of circumstances would result in personal injury, must be reported on an official Accident Incident Report Form in accordance with the Accident Incident Investigation Procedure.

Critical injuries must be immediately reported to Occupational Health and Safety (x84741) or through UWO police at 911.


Required Training for all Employees

It is mandatory that everyone complete the following training seminars.


ALL Western faculty and staff (including postdoctoral scholars, student employees and volunteers) are required to complete ONE of the two modules:

 1. Supervisor Health and Safety Awareness Training


 2. Worker Health and Safety Awareness Training

Which course should you take?  If you direct the work of another, you should complete "Supervisor Health and Safety Awareness Training".  This includes all academic and administrative leaders, principal investigators, managers, supervisors (including work study supervisors), lead hands and senior graduate students who have the responsibility of overseeing others' work in a lab.  All others should complete "Worker Health and Safety Awareness Training".

  • Note: available on-line via OWL.

WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System)

  • (even if you have had this in another workplace)
  • Note: available on-line via OWL.
  • WHMIS training is repeated every three years as required by WHMIS Reg 860.

Safe Campus Community: Preventing Harassment, Violence, and Domestic Violence at Western

  • Note: available on-line via OWL.

Accessibility Western

  • Note: available on-line via OWL.

Laboratory Safety - Hazardous Waste (Lab Safety)

  • These sessions are mandatory for all laboratory supervisors and workers. (A worker is anyone who conducts a procedure in a laboratory.)
  • Laboratory safety training is repeated every three years.

Go to this link to register on-line for training:

Job-Specific Training

You may be required to take additional safety training courses depending upon the type of work you do and/or the hazards you will encounter in you research (e.g. if you work with radioisotopes you need the Radiation Safety Training course). Please refer to the Training Requirements matrix to determine what sessions you need to attend.

Go to this link to register on-line for training:

Working in Hot Weather Procedure

As a result of an incident in the summer of 2010 where a graduate student suffered from a heat related illness, the Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL) issued an order against the University.The order requires the University to develop a "Hot Weather Plan" which will help prepare and protect those working in extreme heat and humidity conditions.

Western's Occupational Health and Safety team has prepared a procedure to comply with the MOL order. The title of the procedure is "Working in Hot Weather or Hot Workplace Environments" and may be found at this link:

All University Staff and Faculty who may potentially work indoors or outdoors in hot workplace environments (workplaces with temperatures at or above 32C or with Humidex at 35 or higher) must follow and comply with this procedure.

Occupational Health and Safety will present seminars on "Working in Hot Environments" in the spring of each year.

Faculty, and Supervisors can also provide the training to their students, graduate students, and workers as long as they ensure the following:

Additional Information

Position Hazard Communications Form

All employees must fill out a Position Hazard Communications Form with their supervisor. This form is the Department's communication to Occupational Health and Safety and the employee, of the known potential hazards in the workplace. The form must be completed: a) when a new employee is hired; b) when an employee is reclassified; c) when the hazards change; and d) when the position changes.

Laboratory Safety Manual

The Laboratory Health and Safety Manual provides a minimum set of health and safety standards for the operation of campus laboratories. It is the policy of the University that all employees of the Department of Biology adhere to the practices, guidelines and policies described in the manual. Please read the manual thoroughly and discuss any aspects you do not fully understand with your supervisor.

Material Safety Data Sheets

A material safety data sheet must be available for each hazardous material found in the lab. MSDS may be stored electronically but we recommend that for the highest risk / largest volume materials a hard copy of the MSDS be kept on hand for immediate access.

Occupational Health and Safety offers these links to help you in your efforts to locate the MSDS's that you require.

List of Commonly Used Chemical Abbreviations

This list should be posted on the door of your laboratory. It is NOT an inventory of your lab but any abbrevitations specific to your lab must be added

Personal Protective Equipment

The Laboratory Health and Safety Manual outlines Western’s campus-wide policy on minimum Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to be worn by all personnel in all laboratories:

Clothing worn should provide maximum coverage of skin, according to the risk to which you are exposed. The supervisor shall determine the specific requirements in the laboratory. The minimum skin protection in a laboratory in which hazardous chemicals are used requires continuous coverage from shoulders to toes including closed toed shoes. Goggles and face shields may also be required for special procedures (see the Eye Protection Policy for information on appropriate eye protection)

Note: Non-prescription safety glasses, goggles and forms for prescription safety eyewear may be obtained from OHS in Support Services Building Rm. 4159. These items are free for all employees (including Graduate Students)

The minimum PPE should be worn by all the personnel in the lab (including undergraduate students in teaching labs), not just those actively working.

The Biology Department also requires that Lab coats be worn at all times when working in a laboratory.

Note: Lab coats should be laundered frequently, please see ChemBio Stores for access to the no cost Biology laundry system.

Hazardous Waste Disposal

Follow proper waste disposal procedures as outlined in the Hazardous Materials Management Handbook.

RPR Environmental handles the waste collection program at UWO. Users of the service have their hazardous waste (chemical, biological and radioactive) picked up weekly at designated loading docks across campus. The pick-up date is every Thursday morning. Click here for the schedule which should also be posted in laboratories.

RPR requires the submission of an inventory form with all hazardous waste for it to be accepted.

Biology Field Safety Plan and Itinerary

The Department of Biology recognizes that the research and scholarly activities of its faculty, staff and students may involve fieldwork, which may introduce inherent special risks and hazards. The Fieldwork Safety Policy applies to all members of the Department of Biology engaged in fieldwork, and is designed to assist in the prevention of work-related injuries and ensure that emergency plans are both coordinated and communicated. Personal safety must be a personal responsibility.

Prior to heading out to the field, the Department should be notified (two weeks in advance) via a fillable pdf that allows you to indicate who is in charge, contact information, and basic medical notifications for the people that will be part of the team. The field trip checklist and risk assessment guide can help you prepare for the fillable Safety plan form. All participants must sign the acknowledgment and assumption of risk form and give it to their designated leader/supervisor prior to departure. While the attached is geared toward field trips of multi-day duration, the concept of letting the department know when you are out on “official” field business, even for a day, is important.

Please use this form to list all associated field assistants, and inform the department when sub-groups are heading out on day trips. Please consider this approach if you have multiple short duration trips planned for the summer.
Regardless of whether you use this form or not, you are obligated to inform the department when you head off campus for research related activities (not to mention conference travel), and to make sure we have a contact number in case of on-campus emergency. You are also obligated to provide the information requested on the attached form.

For conference and local travel, a simple e-mail to the Chair, copied to the Departmental Human Resources Officer, is all that we require. This is also true for conference travel. Please be sure to include a contact number, name of destination and local contact.

Mental Health Information

Campus and community mental health resources (PDF)

Western Health and Wellness website