Supervisors’ Corner

The Health, Safety and Risk Management Office recognizes that research is, of course, the primary concern of any researcher. However, if you are a principal investigator (PI) who hires, mentors or trains others, under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act, you are a supervisor and have certain duties and responsibilities under the law. The suggestions on this page will help you navigate those duties and responsibilities.

  • Make sure you’ve completed the University’s Supervisor Health and Safety Awareness course. This will also help to explain your duties and responsibilities under the law and is required for all supervisors by Ontario’s Ministry of Labour.
  • Be familiar with the University of Ottawa’s Policy 77 Occupational Health and Safety Policy and Procedure 14-1 Internal Responsibility Procedure for Health and Safety Issues, paying particular attention to the duties required of supervisors. Additional University policies and guidelines can be reviewed on the University’s Health and Safety website.
  • Make sure all workers that you supervise complete the Orientation Form and Access Form. You must co-sign both forms and submit them to your departmental Administrative Assistant.
  • Ensure your staff take all mandatory and required training and submit their certificates to the relevant departmental office.
  • Create a lab manual outlining commonly performed protocols/procedures and their relevant safety and environmental hazards for your lab. The Health, Safety and Risk Management Office can help consult with this.
  • Statistically, new and young workers are more likely to be involved in a workplace accident than your experienced staff. For these workers, consider creating a scope of work that clearly explains the “do’s and don’ts” of your lab, your expectations with respect to after-hours and working alone and what to do in the case of an emergency. The Health, Safety and Risk Management Office can help consult with this.
  • Did you know that it is your responsibility to make sure that all doors to your offices and labs are locked when you or your staff leaves for the day? We would like to remind you of the University's Policy 33 - Security which states that "it is the duty of all supervisory personnel to [...] take appropriate means to minimize the risk of losses for the University and the members of the University community." 
  • Before people leave your lab or graduate, have them go through the lab and transfer ownership or dispose of any of their samples.
  • Do a yearly clean out of your lab space to rotate stock and get rid of old or unneeded supplies.
  • Finally, in the lab, delegate or distribute duties such as:
    • Chemical inventory management
    • Disposal of hazardous waste
    • Weekly cleaning (keep space clean and regain work space)
    • Weekly check of equipment for wear and tear (especially gas hoses)
    • Monthly check of personal protective equipment (check for wear and tear)
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