Standard operating procedures for studios and classrooms

Standard operating procedures for studios and classrooms


This page represents a set of guidelines for the handling of toxic chemicals and the use of machinery in the Department of Art and Art History. All users (students, faculty, and staff) are required to follow these guidelines. These guidelines are to be reviewed and amended periodically by supervisory personnel. Supervisors will ensure that all users comply with these guidelines.

Material has been compiled by Department of Art and Art History Workshops Technicians with additional information drawn from University of Calgary EHS offices and the Division of Environmental Health and Safety at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Emergency Information

The University of Calgary has an Emergency Response Plan that has been implemented for the protection of University personnel and University property. All faculty, staff, and students must adhere to this plan. Detailed information on emergency procedures can be found using the link below

There are Emergency Response Teams in place to facilitate the Emergency Response Plan. There are three levels of emergencies that are categorized according to the order of the severity of the situation. For the purposes of this page, a level 1 emergency – the lowest level of severity – is addressed. In the case of a level 2 or 3 emergencies, the responses of personnel within a department will essentially be the same while additionally invoking the Emergency Operations Group and the Crisis Management Team. The difference is in the responsibilities of the personnel in the greater University as well as the outside agencies (police and fire).

The First Response Team responds in all emergencies, but they are the only response team for Level 1 emergencies. Members of the First Response Team are made up of these personnel:

  • The first person at the site of the incident
  • Campus Security
  • Environmental Health and Safety
  • Insurance and Risk Management
  • Parking and Traffic Services
  • External Relations
  • Campus Infrastructure
  • Emergency Wardens
  • Departmental Responders

A Level 1 emergency is any accident or incident that occurs and is confined to an area of a building or a singular building. These incidents will not affect any other operations of the University and the emergency response will be concluded within 12 hours.

There is an Emergency Warden system in place at the University of Calgary; all persons on the property of the University are required to obey the instructions of a Warden. If they refuse, they can be charged with obstruction by fire or emergency personnel. The primary assembly point for the Department of Art is the University Theatre foyer in Craigie Hall G, with an alternate assembly point in the Food Court of the Professional Faculties building. Evacuation and assembly points for other University Buildings are listed at

There is an Emergency Response Coordinator for each Department or Faculty. This person, or their designate, will organize an area response to each and every incident. This person will be in full knowledge of the operations of the area in which the incident occurs. Their priority is to facilitate the emergency personnel so that no further damage, injury, or loss of life can occur.

This person (whether a student or an employee of the University)is responsible for ensuring her or his own well-being. (S)he must contact Campus Security at 403-220-5333 in the case of an incident. Responses will vary depending on the nature of the incident. The following sections deal with the management of specific types of incidents that may occur.

Any injury that is incurred must be reported immediately to your supervisor. For undergraduate students, this is the Instructor-of-Record for the course in which the related accident occurred. For graduate students, this is the student’s Graduate Supervisor. Injuries or accidents that occur during operations or processes that involve the Department of Art Workshops (Woodshop, Metal Shop, and Printmaking facilities) must also be reported immediately to the Department Technicians.

If emergency medical assistance is required, contact 9-1-1 immediately and then call Campus Security at 403-220-5333, or by using the red emergency phones located in the area. Provide emergency personnel with your name, telephone number, location (building and room number), and the nature of injury or damage if known. If it is safe to do so, check the victim and administrate first aid if you are qualified to do so. If you are at risk, go to a safe area and await assistance.

The first person at an accident is responsible for meeting the First Response Team members and to remain available to assist with further information. Any accident that includes a sudden or unforeseen event causing, or have caused, an injury or occupational illness, a release of hazardous materials into the environment, or a near miss must subsequently be reported to EHS. An Online Accident Report must be generated with EHS through the OARS system at

Note that only serious injury or death of an individual under suspicious or violent circumstances will trigger a response from the Emergency Operations Group and Crisis Management Team. The first responder will be Campus Security, EHS, and/or departmental representatives in Level 1 emergencies.

Any incidents that affect the safety and security of individuals must be reported to Campus Security at 403-220-5333, or by using the red emergency phones located in the area. These concerns can include individuals who do not belong in the area, acts of damage to equipment or to the building, individuals acting in a threatening manner, or circumstances which make you or others feel uncomfortable in any way

An evacuation order may be required for a variety of reasons. In most situations, an evacuation signal will come in the form of the building fire alarm system. In such circumstances, utilize the following immediate actions:

  • Activate the NEAREST fire alarm pull station, located along the exit path.
  • Take coat and keys if immediately available.
  • Evacuate building through the nearest exit. Use stairs – DO NOT USE ELEVATORS.
  • Close, but do not lock, all doors along your exit route.
  • If directed by Wardens, follow their instructions.
  • Move away from the building and proceed to the Assembly Point, located at the Foyer of the University Theatre Lobby in Craigie Hall.
  • DO NOT leave the Assembly Point until authorized by the Assembly Captain.
  • DO NOT attempt to remove any equipment or vehicles from the building.
  • DO NOT re-enter the building until you have been informed that it is safe to do so by the Assembly Captain.

General Information

Respect and understand the safety and health hazards associated with the materials, mediums, chemicals, and equipment you use. Consult with professors, instructors, and technicians on the use of all chemicals and equipment before you use them.

All studios and classrooms are designated as laboratories under the University of Calgary EHS guidelines. As such, they are subject to the rules and regulations that determine the safe usage of these spaces. Lab placards that outline these regulations are posted on all studio doors. It is the responsibility of all students, faculty, and staff to be aware of – and to follow – these guidelines at ALL times.

Children and other unauthorized persons are not allowed in studios where hazardous materials or hazardous equipment are being used. These materials and equipment can be found in the following areas: Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Photography, Sculpture, and the associated shops or process rooms. Graduate studios and some faculty offices/studios are also included. Please be aware that even though you, personally, may not be using these materials/equipment, these are multi-user spaces and others are likely using such items.

In areas where no hazardous processes are occurring, supervised children can be in attendance.

Visiting Artists and individuals brought into the department for business purposes must adhere to the Visitor Health and Safety Standard as outlined at

Do not play practical jokes or conduct yourself in a manner that might confuse, startle, or distract another person while working. There are dangers that could result, particularly when working with hazardous chemicals and equipment.

When working with hazardous materials or processes, it is required to have a second authorized person present.Please consult the Restricted Materials signage on all studio doors or consult with department technicians concerning the safety of any potentially hazardous processes.

The University has also implemented a Working Alone System to ensure the safety of faculty, staff, and students when they are working alone, particularly in the evenings or outside of normal work hours. This system is a web-based check-in/check-out system with Campus Security, whereby they will check on any individual that has registered as working alone and logged into the system. You can access the Working Alone System by logging into your MyUCalgary account. Further information can be found at

Smoking is prohibited in all indoor areas owned or leased by the University of Calgary (including all covered parking) except in designated “smoking permitted areas.” Smoking is permitted outdoors if it is a minimum of five meters away from entranceways, open windows, building air intakes, and flammable or combustible storage areas

Review any potential hazards before starting to work. Discuss the processes you will be undertaking with co-workers, professors, instructors, and technicians. See Technicians for reference to Standard Operating Procedures when required.

High-risk practitioners fall into three categories:

  1. Persons whose health is compromised by a physician-diagnosed temporary infection such as a cold or flu. These persons must consult their doctor about the toxic hazards of in-class and homework projects and interactions with medications. They should avoid working with any painting processes that might aggravate their conditions or leave them open to secondary infections until their symptoms have completely ceased. Use of sanders and wood-working tools, powdered media(plasters and clays), aromatic solvents (as in oil paints), and acrylic painting and glazing (which produce ammonia) should be avoided altogether. A respirator should be worn if illness permits.
  2. Persons affected by a chronic condition such as asthma, allergies, chemical sensitivities, heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, skin disease, etc. These persons must consult a physician about toxins’ effects and interactions with medications. Extra precautions with gloves, respirators, and hygiene must be taken. If any doubt exists or any symptoms manifest themselves, the process involved should be ceased immediately.
  3. Pregnant or nursing women and persons contemplating pregnancy. A physician must be consulted about toxins’ effects and interactions with medications. Keep in mind that a wide range of chemicals can affect the human reproductive system and that exposure to the mother can affect a nursing infant or a fetus (especially during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy). Use low-toxicity materials and processes and avoid direct exposure by inhalation, ingestion, or skin contact. Extra precautions with gloves, respirators, and hygiene must be taken.

Workplace Safety

Building facilities (such as water, lights, fans, etc.) are maintained by Facilities Management. Inform the office staff of any problems so that a request can be sent to Facilities Management for completion or submit an Archibus request by logging into your MyUCalgary portal. Requests for furnishings are completed by individual requestors through the MyUCalgary Portal, by completing the appropriate Supply Chain Management Service Request Forms, or by contacting the SCM Integrated Service Centre. Fume hoods and spray booths should be inspected annually by safety services. The loading dock is under the control of Campus Infrastructure and, as such, there is no storage in this area. Campus Infrastructure will dispose of any items left in this area without notice.

Use the proper equipment for a particular job. Visually inspect equipment before use to ensure it is in good working order. Immediately inform a Workshops Technician of any damaged or malfunctioning equipment so that it may be repaired.


    No person is allowed to use equipment, tools, or potentially hazardous chemicals and processes without receiving procedural and safety training by qualified and departmentally-approved personnel. All graduate students and faculty are required to take basic WHMIS training, at which point a Research Training record will be provided for your records.


    Access to electrical equipment (e.g. plugs, switches, and electrical panels) should be maintained free from obstructions at all times in case of an emergency. All cords and switches on tools and equipment must be maintained in good order. Cords should not run in aisles or corridors where they might be damaged or create a tripping hazard. In circumstances when a cord must be placed along a pathway (as in gallery installations), it must be secured to the floor using duct tape or cord runners. Extension cords should not be used as a substitution for fixed receptacle outlets. Two-wire type extension cords should never be used to run power tools or equipment.

Exits, aisles, and safety equipment must NOT be obstructed in any way with equipment, furniture, or other items. Aisles in studios should be 36” or 90cm in clear width. Work areas and floors are to be kept clean and not used as excessive storage. Hallways must NOT be blocked as they are fire exit passageways. Excess furniture, electronics, and equipment from studios and offices is NOT to be left in hallways or corridors – arrange with the Main Office to have a disposal request processed through Facilities Management for the removal of unwanted items.


    Eyewash and safety showers should be flushed on a regular basis to verify that the units are working to clear the lines of stale water and debris.


    There should be no obstructions that might inhibit the use of a fire extinguisher. Each extinguisher is checked multiple times throughout the year by safety services.


    First aid stationsshould be checked periodically and re-stockedat the end of each term. Technicians should consult the Safety Bulletin on First Aid Kits in the Laboratory Safety Manual.

Unattended operations involving hazardous substances or equipment, where no one is present, can only be carried out in compliance with the University’s Safety Procedures and with prior Departmental approval. Guidelines for these procedures can be found at

It is the responsibility of the worker to design procedures to prevent accidents from occurring. Consider that interruptions in utilities (power, water) can occur. Lights should be left on and signs posted identifying the operation and the hazardous substances in use. If appropriate, arrangements should be made for other workers to periodically inspect the operation. Similarly, running water should be checked periodically for leaks or for the filling of basins to ensure floods do not occur.

Hazardous Materials Procedures

Before the use of any chemicals, familiarize yourself with the proper procedures and handling. EHS has implemented Codes of Practice governing the use, handling, and storage of several chemical substances. Please refer to for this information.

All other substances should be handled according to the guidelines in the Chemical Storage Safety Bulletin at In the case of chemical spills, use the following procedures.

Chemical spills are classified as either a minor or major spill. In both circumstances, the procedures for spill clean-up are outlined at

In addition to following these procedures, Technicians or safety personnel should be consulted to assess how a spill should be cleaned up, and to ensure the necessary personal protective equipment and spill clean-up material is being used.


    All chemicals need to be stored and labelledaccording to the guidelines established by WHMIS. All faculty and graduatestudentsare required to take basic WHMIS training provided by EHS. The process for labelling chemicals is further outlined at


    Consumer products will have consumer hazard symbols and will not often have MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) available. If there is no reference to MSDS on the supplier label and there are consumer hazard symbols, you have a consumer product and no MSDS is required. Most art supplies sold in retail stores are considered consumer products.

For the movement and transportation of chemicals within the building, follow the procedures as outlined at

The disposal of chemicals must follow the classifications and guidelines determined by EHS at Technicians should be consulted when preparing to dispose of these materials and to ensure the proper handling procedures are being followed.

Studios and classrooms must have an emergency contact sign on the hallway side entry doors. These signs must be reviewed and updated once a year. Other signage as required by safety services will be placed in a fully visible location as per their instructions.

Gas cylinders are to be stored in externally ventilated areas with their caps on. Gas cylinders should be secured to reduce the chance of being knocked over. Do not store in high traffic areas or corridors. Do not store near flammables and oxidizers. Use appropriate handcarts to move compressed gas cylinders. Gas cylinders should be capped and secured to a cart during transport. A full outline of the procedures to be followed is outlined at

Flammable and combustible liquids that exceed 4.6 litres in volume must be stored in approved safety cans. No more than 113.5 litres in total may be stored in safety cans outside of a flammable storage cabinet. For departmental storage of such materials, technicians should consult the Safety Bulletin on Fire Safety at

Pollution and Waste

Waste minimization strategies usually have the dual benefits of improving safety and reducing chemical purchase and disposal costs. Waste Minimization Strategies:

  • Practice good housekeeping where chemicals are used and stored.
  • Ensure that all containers are properly labelled.
  • Place an inventory of all chemicals stored or used inappropriate studios.
  • Discourage students from using chemicals that present significant hazards such as highly reactive, highly toxic, carcinogenic, or corrosive chemicals.
  • Wherever possible, use less toxic substitutes.

Receptacles for recycling are located in the corridors throughout the building. It is strongly encouraged that faculty, students, and staff use these bins to recycle common materials such as unwanted paper and food/beverage containers.

Additionally, there is a collection bin for cardboard recycling that is located by the loading dock. All cardboard should be taken to this bin for disposal.

A detailed list of the University’s recycling strategies – including the disposal of electronic devices – is located at

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal protective equipment (PPE) and personal hygiene are basic aspects of working safely. Wearing appropriate personal protective equipment and practicing good personal hygiene as described below will minimize exposure to hazardous chemicals or procedures during routine use and in the case of an accident.

Eating, drinking, and the application of cosmetics are not allowed in any studios and classrooms where art processes take place, as hazardous chemicals can be consumed either through the digestive or circulatory system. There is no drinking of alcohol except for special events, and as permitted under the University’s liquor license. Full details on the University liquor policy are located at

When working with hazardous chemicals and workshop equipment, wear clothing that will protect you in case of a spill or provide a protective barrier to prevent injury. Shorts, skirts, sandals, and open-toed shoes pose an extra risk and should not be worn when doing most art processes. See a technician, professor, or instructor for advice on which clothing is suitable. Nylons or pantyhose are not recommended because they may melt upon contact with acid. Metalworking (welding and foundry) requires special safety attire and a technician must be consulted before starting.

All users of the woodshop are restricted from working in the facilities if they are wearing open-toed shoes, high-heels, or baggy/loose clothing (including aprons, painting smocks, and lab coats). Prior to beginning work in the shop, all jewelry must be removed and long hair tied back.

Additional safety precautions may be required for various processes and as determined by a Technician.

Gloves are essential when working with hazardous substances. The proper glove will prevent absorption, infection, or burns. Choose the glove carefully as the different materials used in their manufacturing vary in effectiveness as per different chemicals. A partial list of acceptable gloves follows, so consult Technicians when using other chemicals.

  • Acetone...........................................Latex gloves are very well suited, Nitrile is acceptable
  • Ethylene Chloride............................Polyvinyl alcohol gloves are very well suited
  • Mineral Spirits.................................Polyvinyl alcohol gloves are very well suited
  • Turpentine......................................Nitrile gloves are very well suited
  • Hydrochloric Acid............................Nitrile gloves are very well suited
  • Nitric Acid.......................................Nitrile gloves are very well suited
  • Phosphoric Acid..............................Nitrile gloves are very well suited
  • Sulfuric Acid....................................Nitrile gloves are very well suited

Wear eye protection where hazardous chemicals or equipment is being used. This protection includes face shields, safety glasses, welding shields, and splash goggles. Regular eyeglasses are not satisfactory. Contact lenses are not to be worn where any hazardous chemicals are being used. Safety glasses are required at all times when present in the woodshop or metal shop. As many individuals are often working simultaneously, safety glasses must be worn even when you are not personally using tools or equipment. Splash goggles are also required when using any aerosols, spray cans, or spray guns in the department’s spray booths.

Work under a fume hood or in a studio with adequate external ventilation when working with materials and processes that produce hazardous particulates, fibres, dust, mists, vapours, aerosols, gases, or fumes. If the use of a respirator is required, you must comply with University policies ( This includes a medical assessment, fit testing, and instructions on proper use.

Hands should be washed frequently throughout the day: after glove removal, before leaving the studio or classroom, after contact with any hazardous chemicals, and before eating, drinking smoking, or applying cosmetics.