Laboratory Move/Decommissioning

Contact information for Office of Risk Management - University of Ottawa
Specialist Name Email Phone number
Assistant Director, Radiation and Biosafety Lois Sowden-Plunkett lsowden@uottawa.ca 613-562-5800 ext. 3058
Radiation Compliance Specialist   rad.safety@uottawa.ca 613-562-5800 ext. 3057
Laser and X-ray Compliance Specialist   laser.safety@uottawa.ca 613-562-5800 ext. 2000
Biosafety Compliance Specialist   bio.safety@uottawa.ca 613-562-5800 ext. 3153

Laboratory Decommissioning Overview

Moving a research laboratory is a stressful and involved process. Each phase of the move requires due diligence. Effective planning allows the researcher and the university to undergo the process smoothly and safely. This document provides guidance to the user regarding responsibilities, expectations and procedures involved in a move at the Faculty of Science.

Roles and Responsibilities

While the Principle Investigator (PI) may be responsible for organizing much of the move, there are responsibilities that fall to other personnel at the Faculty of Science. Outlined below are the responsibilities attributed to those involved in the move:

Faculty Executives

Before a move begins, there must be notification of the move. This notification is a signed document from either the Dean and/or Chief Administrative Officer detailing the move and giving an estimated date of departure. 

Principle Investigator (PI)

Principle Investigators are responsible for coordinating the required personnel and student(s).  Working together with the Health, Safety and Risk (HSR) and Facilities Management (FMT) team, the PI and their graduate students are responsible for:

  • Setting a lab work termination date (i.e. a date where the research will stop)
  • Delegating the work to graduate students as required
  • Informing HSR and the required offices of ORM of the biohazard, radioactive and laser dangers
  • Signing and submitting equipment decommissioning forms
  • Segregate and pack chemicals
  • Making sure the laboratory is clean when they leave

Health, Risk and Safety Team (HSR)

The HSR team consults and trains personnel on matters relating to the proper transport of chemicals based on the Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) Act and Regulations. They are also the ones to contact for chemical disposal.

Facility Management Team (FMT)

The FMT team will provide support and personnel for the move. They consult on matters regarding the moving and disassembly of equipment (including office and laboratory equipment), organization of the facility resources and assisting on the logistics on moving. They will also be your contact for organizing telephone and computer moves.

Facilities (PRS)

Facilities will be the last people that clean the space before new researchers enter. When they arrive to do a final clean of the counters and floors, it is expected that the laboratory is free from chemicals and that the departing researchers has done an initial cleaning. Facilities are NOT responsible for cleaning any chemical-laden areas for they are not trained and should not be subjected to an unsafe work environment.

Office of Risk Management (ORM)

The Office of Risk Management (ORM), among other responsibilities, ensures that the research at the University of Ottawa complies with municipal, provincial and federal legislation.

Within their office, they have compliance specialists to assist in:

Acquiring permits and decommissioning of biosafety, laser, x-ray and radiation
  • Biosafety Compliance Specialist
    • Email
    • Tel.: 613-562-5800 ext. 3153
  • Laser and X-ray Compliance Specialist
    • Email
    • Tel.: 613-562-5800 ext. 2000 
  • Radiation Compliance Specialist
    • Email
    • Tel.: 613-562-5800 ext. 3057
Licences for controlled substances
  • Environmental Management Specialist
    • Email
    • Tel.: 613-562-5800 ext. 3056
Tracking of chemicals
  • HECHMET Regulatory Affairs Manager
    • Email
    • Tel.: 613-562-5800 ext. 1983
Miscellaneous

Have an issue that isn’t on this list? Contact the HSR team by email or by phone at 613-562-5800 extension 6425.

Regulations and Expectations

When researchers enter or exit the University of Ottawa, their laboratory should be ready for research.  The completion of this goal can be at times challenging due to municipal, provincial and federal laws as well as the university’s own expectations. A great resource for many of the regulations can be found in Appendix A of the Guidelines for Environmental Protection Measures at Chemical and Waste Storage Facilities from the Ministry of the Environment.

Chemicals

Whether a researcher is moving to a laboratory down the street or down the hall, the chemicals should be transported in a safe and secure manner. Transport Canada has various documents pertaining to the Transport of Dangerous Goods (TDG). Before any major move begins, researchers should be educated in the various aspects of the TDG Act and TDG Regulations. This includes but is not limited to: chemical labelling, chemical segregation, packaging regulations and transport of goods outside of the building.

Consult the HSR team before doing any major chemical movement; they can give guidance on the proper packaging, handling and transport of dangerous goods.

Fume Hoods

There are various types of fume hoods found at the University of Ottawa and many have an analytical test to confirm their cleanliness. It is the responsibility of the researcher to ensure that the fume hoods have been properly cleaned. If the fume hood requires decommissioning, contact the HSR team.  

While it can be difficult to completely clean a fume hood, the expectation at the Faculty of Science is that fume hoods and flammable cabinets are visually clean and free of contaminants. Regular chemical fume hoods and cabinets may be cleaned by anyone in the research group. For any other type of fume hood (those containing biohazards, HF, radioactive material, heavy metals etc.), contact the required specialist at the ORM well in advance to coordinate contaminant testing and suggestions for means of decontamination.

Surfaces and Floors

Employees at the University of Ottawa have the right to know, to participate and to refuse dangerous work under the Canada Labour Code. As such, researchers are responsible for informing the facilities staff of the possible dangers that arise from the laboratory surfaces. It is expected that once the laboratory has been cleared of all chemicals, the research staff will do a cleaning of all the surfaces. Following this cleaning, a member of the facilities will be responsible for doing one final wipe down of all the surfaces and all the floors once the laboratory has been completely vacated and made safe for the staff.

Lab Decommissioning Preparation

Effective planning can minimize the error and time delays in a lab move.  To try and make the transition as painless as possible, print out the Lab Decommissioning Pre-Checklist to use as a guide to ensure you`ve completed all the required aspects of moving.

Confirmation of a lab move/decommissioning

The first order of business is to confirm that the laboratory is being moved or decommissioned. The only people that can confirm this movement are the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) or the Dean of the Faculty of Science. If you have not already received an official Lab Decommissioning Request from the Dean, contact them immediately.

Setting a timeline

Once a date of movement has been established by the Dean or CAO, it’s time to start planning a schedule. The most important date on the timeline will be that of the last day of research. The Faculty of Science is here to help the process along but without this date set, no planning can begin. The next steps will be planning the equipment, hazardous substances and support material moves.

Equipment

The goal is to have as little research time lost as possible and movement of equipment is often the linchpin. Equipment may require many steps and permits to ensure its proper dismantling and reassembly. Priority should be given to move equipment that is most essential for research first. It’s best to begin with a general inventory of all the equipment. This may include fridges, freezers and flammables cabinets. For efficient movement of equipment, inform the FMT as soon as possible about the equipment to be moved, the equipment left behind and the equipment requiring decommissioning. For equipment moves, an Equipment Decommissioning Form (PDF) must be filled out.    

Consideration must be made for the equipment left behind as well. Specialty fume hood and work surfaces used for radiation or biohazardous research will need decontamination. For any biological or radioactive decontamination, contact the required specialist at the ORM.

Chemicals

The most dangerous part of a laboratory move/decommissioning is the movement of chemical, biological and radioactive substances. Learning safe and effective chemical inventory, waste management, chemical segregation, packaging, labelling and transport methods are key to a successful move. In preparation for a lab move/decommissioning, contact the HSR team to see when the next TDG training is available. Also, become familiar with your chemicals through printing your chemical inventory from Vertére, TDG Regulations, General Packing Guidelines and Chemical Compatibility Chart as they will be your guides to chemical movements.

Emergency Preparedness

While some of the Faculty staff may be aware of the move/decommissioning, most of the University will not be. In all cases of moving of dangerous equipment or goods, it’s suggested that Protection is made aware. Protection officers are first-aid certified and will be able to cordon an area if there is an accident. Their non-emergency number is extension 5499. In case of emergency, they can be contacted at extension 5411

Hypothetical Project Schedule

Days Items

Day 1

Notification of a laboratory move/decommissioning

Day 7

Pre-move checklist submitted

Setting a Research Termination Date

Day 14

Termination of Research

End of permits/licenses

Day 14 to 21

Prepare major equipment for the move

Day 21

Major equipment Move

Day 21 to 28

Segregate and pack/dispose of chemicals

Day 28

Major chemical Move

Day 30

Lab clean-up

Lab Decontamination Procedures

With the planning stage now complete, it’s time to actually move. The Pre-Move Checklist will continue to be a good guide to ensure that each task is complete but the more detailed Checklist for Laboratory Close-out/Decommissioning and Equipment Decommissioning Form will be the required form to complete the move.

Chemicals

To avoid moving unnecessary dangerous goods, take an inventory of the chemicals currently contained within the laboratory. The university chemical inventory system (Vertére) or an internal inventory can be used to confirm the chemicals currently in the laboratory. Any chemicals that are past their due date or no longer useful can be separated and disposed. For any unidentifiable dangerous goods or goods whose risks are unknown, contact the HSR team so that they may consult on the matter. Chemical waste can be disposed of by submitting a Chemical Waste Pickup Request form.  

Once the laboratory’s chemical library has been assessed and the unwanted chemicals disposed of properly, it’s time to start segregating chemicals by their class (NOT alphabetically) and packaging them appropriately. The guidelines for this endeavor can be found in the TDG Regulations and the HSR team are more than willing to come into the laboratory to train and ensure that the regulations are being followed. The General Packing Guidelines and Chemical Compatibility Chart are available to assist in packing chemicals. Note: The General Packing Guidelines and Chemical Compatibility Chart are not exhaustive. As a result, it is important for Laboratory personnel to research the properties of the chemicals they are packaging.

Once all the dangerous goods are properly packed and ready to be shipped, the next question is where the dangerous goods are going. The TDG Regulations are concerned with whether the dangerous goods are travelling with or without traversing public streets. The Faculty of Science splits the transport of dangerous goods into the following scenarios: 

  1. Within the University of Ottawa, within a building
  2. Within the University of Ottawa, to a new building but not through public streets
  3. Within the University of Ottawa, to a new building through public streets
  4. Permanent move outside of the University of Ottawa

The University of Ottawa has a variety of transport carts and vehicles available to assist in the move. For moves within the university, carts with lips are required. The transport of dangerous goods should always be done while wearing the proper Personal Protective Equipment. Transport in a car or van requires that the car follows the TDG regulations and the driver had a TDG certification.

Waste

To ensure compliance with environmental legislation, segregation of waste is crucial. There are various types of waste that must go through different streams. If it is an unknown or if the disposal methods are unknown, contact the HSR team for an assessment.

Chemical waste is dealt with through the HSR team. For daily chemical waste removal or minimal amounts of chemicals, the Chemical Waste Pickup Request form can be sent to the HSR team. For larger amounts of chemicals, please contact the HSR team for a lab pack. For any biological or radioactive waste, contact the required specialist at the ORM.

Non-chemical waste will be dealt with by Facilities (PRS). Any time non-hazardous waste is produced in a lab (including broken glass in corrugated fiberboard box) anyone can call Facilities at extension 2222 to get the waste removed. (Note that this service may take up to 10 business days.)

Equipment waste will also be dealt with by the FMT. For some equipment (such as compressors, fridges and freezers) there may be a few steps before its safe disposal so the sooner FMT is aware of the equipment requiring attention, the sooner the move/disposal can be complete.

Equipment

Effective movement of equipment is enhanced with communication.  While a verbal conversation with a member for the Facilities team may seem sufficient, submission of Equipment Decommissioning Forms ensures that facilities are aware of all of the equipment. Remember that equipment most important for research should take priority when planning a lab move/decommissioning. For specialized equipment requiring permits or precision tuning, the ORM must also be informed of the moves.

  • Biosafety Compliance Specialist
    • Email
    • Tel.: 613-562-5800 ext. 3153
  • Laser and X-ray Compliance Specialist
    • Email
    • Tel.: 613-562-5800 ext. 2000 
  • Radiation Compliance Specialist
    • Email
    • Tel.: 613-562-5800 ext. 3057

Office equipment is also a crucial part of research. For moves within the University of Ottawa, FMT will be responsible for coordinating the move of furniture and may be able to supply bins for smaller items. They may also initiate the movement of computers, telephones and telephone numbers.

For telephones, internet and other office technology inquiries, contact Computing and Communications Services at extension 6555.  

The expectation at the Faculty of Science is that fume hoods and flammable cabinets are visually clean and free of contaminants. Regular chemical fume hoods and cabinets can be cleaned using water and a cleaning detergent. For any other type of fume hood, both the HSR team and contact the required specialist at the ORM must be informed ahead of time.

Finishing the move

Congratulations, you have successfully moved the laboratory. The final step to the process is to finish filling out the Checklist for laboratory close-out/decommissioning and having a member of either the HSR or Facilities team to confirm the status of the laboratory. With this final signature, the process is complete and the form can be submitted to the HSR team.

References

  • Ontario Occupational Health & Safety Act - R.S.O. 1990
  • Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) – Regulation 860
  • Hazardous Products Act (Federal)
  • The Ontario Fire Code (O. Reg. 388/97) as amended by (O. Reg. 398/98 and 428/98)
  • Environmental Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. E.19
  • Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, S.C. 1999, c. 33 (CEPA)

Contact info

Health, Safety and Risk Manager
Pubalee Bera
Telephone: 613-562-5800, ext. 6425
Tabaret Hall, room 332
pbera@uOttawa.ca

Health, Safety and Risk Assistant
Carl Farah
Telephone: 613-562-5800, ext. 4580
CAREG Hall, room 516
science.safety@uOttawa.ca

Facility Manager
Sean Kirkwood
Telephone: 613-562-5800, ext. 6030
Tabaret Hall, room 378B
skirkwoo@uOttawa.ca

Facility Coordinator
David Needham
Telephone: 613-562-5800, ext. 6020
Tabaret Hall, room 336
science.facility@uOttawa.ca

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