Safety in Lab And Field


Safety is of utmost importance in all aspects of graduate work, and research in general. Queen’s is committed to helping students appreciate the importance of safety, and providing a safe working environment.

All Biology graduate students must complete WHMIS training at the start of their program, then do a refresher course at the start (Sept) of each academic year. WHMIS training is offered several times during the year, but primarily in September and just before the summer term begins. Mr. Dale Kristensen, the departmental safety officer, can be consulted concerning the scheduling of WHMIS courses. The WHMIS course consists of a few hours of instruction about lab safety procedures, followed by a take-home exam that can be completed on-line. Upon successfully passing the exam, students will be issued a WHMIS certificate. Students may also be required to take other safety-related courses, such as those dealing with radioactivity, or specific chemical environments, depending on their research.

Other 2-day courses are also offered, in First Aid and CPR, by the University. Notification of these courses are circulated on e-mail.

Laboratory environments have several potential hazards, with which the student should be familiar. MSDS sheets on chemicals are available on-line and should be consulted whenever you work with any chemical. Open dialogue with supervisors, colleagues and other staff can help ensure a safe working environment. Students are expected to be familiar with the location and operation of safety features in the lab, such as chemical showers, eye wash stations, protective eyewear, footwear and other clothing, fire extinguishers etc.

Students should understand the safety implications of their work. Any student who feels at any time they are working in an unsafe environment must immediately identify the problem to their supervisor or other faculty member. Students have the right to immediately refuse any work or responsibility that is not safe.

All Field Researchers must take the Field Safety Courses offered once or twice per year. Check with Dr. John Smol for dates at

It is a university requirement that all field researchers fill out, in consultation with supervisors, the on-line FIELD RESEARCH SAFETY PLANNING RECORD. This record must be approved by your supervisor and the Head of Biology before any field-work is undertaken. This record must be submitted at least one week before leaving for the field or any other off-campus activity related to graduate work, like conferences. These forms can be downloaded from the web sites noted above.

Students working with vertebrates must take the Animal Care WebCT course offered by Animal Care. For further information on this, contact Joanne Surette in the Biology Graduate Studies Office.

Memorize the University’s Emergency number: 533-6111 (or 36111 from an internal phone).

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I've spent more time than many will believe [making microscopic observations], but I've done them with joy, and I've taken no notice those who have said why take so much trouble and what good is it?

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

It's a parts list... If I gave you the parts list for the Boeing 777 and it had 100,000 parts, I don't think you could screw it together and you certainly wouldn't understand why it flew

Eric Lander

What is true for E. coli is also true for the elephant

Jacques Monod

The world becomes full of organisms that have what it takes to become ancestors. That, in a sentence, is Darwinism

Richard Dawkins

Shall we conjecture that one and the same kind of living filaments is and has been the cause of all organic life?

Erasmus Darwin

Nature proceeds little by little from things lifeless to animal life in such a way that it's impossible to determine the line of demarcation


Cells let us walk, talk, think, make love, and realize the bath water is cold

Lorraine Lee Cudmore

In the distant future I see open fields for far more important researches. Psychology will be based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation. Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history

Charles Darwin

It is my belief that the basic knowledge that we're providing to the world will have a profound impact on the human condition and the treatments for disease and our view of our place on the biological continuum

J. Craig Venter

Imagine a house coming together spontaneously from all the information contained in the bricks: that is how animal bodies are made

Neil Shubin

A grain in the balance will determine which individual shall live and which shall die - which variety or species shall increase in number, and which shall decrease, or finally become extinct

Charles Darwin

The stuff of life turned out to be not a quivering, glowing, wondrous gel but a contraption of tiny jigs, springs, hinges, rods, sheets, magnets, zippers, and trapdoors, assembled by a data tape whose information is copied, downloaded and scanned

Steven Pinker

We wish to discuss a structure for the salt of deoxyribose nucleic acid. (D.N.A.). This structure has novel features which are of considerable biologic interest

Rosalind Franklin

We are biology. We are reminded of this at the beginning and the end, at birth and at death. In between we do what we can to forget

Mary Roach

The systems approach to biology will be the dominant theme in medicine

Leroy Hood

I've always been interested in animal behavior, and I keep reading about it because it's so surprising all the time - so many things are happening around us that we neglect to look at. Part of the passion I have for biology is based on this wonderment"

Isabella Rossellini

Because all of biology is connected, one can often make a breakthrough with an organism that exaggerates a particular phenomenon, and later explore the generality

Thomas Cech

Nothing in Biology makes sense except in the light of evolution

Theodosius Dobzhansky

Biology is now bigger than physics, as measured by the size of budgets, by the size of the workforce, or by the output of major discoveries; and biology is likely to remain the biggest part of science through the twenty-first century

- Freeman Dyson

Nothing can be more incorrect than the assumption one sometimes meets with, that physics has one method, chemistry another, and biology a third

- Thomas Huxley