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University Health and Safety (UHS)

University Health and Safety (UHS) is a team of health, safety and risk management specialists committed to achieve standards in the areas of environmental and occupational health, safety, loss prevention and mitigation.

Our Services


Expandable List

Health and Safety becomes part of the employee experience during onboarding when a new hire begins in their role. All employees are required to complete mandatory core training sessions when hired, offered online through Mosaic and Avenue to Learn, McMaster’s Learning Management System.

Employees complete a Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) with their supervisor when they are hired. The JHA outlines the risks associated with the position and what additional training may be required in addition to the core sessions. A Training Matrix summarizes training for employee roles.

The provided training ensures faculty and staff are equipped to recognize hazards, work safely, prevent workplace-related incidents and injuries and comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

RMM 300 Health and Safety Training Program outlines the responsibilities of supervisors and employees related to McMaster’s training program.

Additional site-specific training may be required depending on the employee’s role. UHS offers over 25 online health and safety courses. 55,202 training sessions were completed during the 2021 year by staff and students.

Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSCs) are advisory groups made up of management and employee representatives required under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). A central joint Health and Safety Committee (CJHSC) meets monthly to ensure coordinated support. 28 active JHSCs representing academic faculties and departments who meet regularly to:

  • Conduct regular inspections to identify workplace hazards
  • Participate in accident investigations
  • Make recommendations to senior management regarding the identification and control of hazards
  • Make recommendations on building improvements, training requirements, and policy/program revision or implementation.

The Ergonomics Safety Program promotes awareness and provides direction on the application of safe and efficient ergonomics design in the workplace to reduce work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). The university has a legal obligation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) to protect employees from hazards due to poor ergonomics.

To ensure an effective Ergonomics Safety Program, University Health and Safety (UHS) has made the following resources/tools available to employees: ergonomics training and awareness education, ergonomics self-assessment checklist and videos, and ergonomic assessments. Upon request, the UHS team will conduct an ergonomic assessment of work processes and/or workstations and provide detailed reports outlining recommendations. During COVID-19, the team has prepared additional guides to support employees working remotely and have continued to offer in-person (when permitted) and virtual ergonomic assessments.

Safety and Health Week

Each year for the past 27 years, McMaster hosts a variety of safety-related initiatives during Safety and Health Week including training programs, presentations, JHSC competitions, a barbecue, and a vendor fair.

This week was implemented for the university by the current Director HSRM in the role of Safety Officer in the mid-1990’s. The McMaster Health and Safety Award of Excellence is also presented to a person or group from the McMaster community who has done an outstanding job of promoting health and safety in the workplace. The annual award is presented by senior management during the week-long celebration.

This year we were honoured to collaborate with the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) as part of Safety and Health Week.  On May 6th Dane DeMan (Senior Program Manager, EOHSS) and Roger Couldrey (Vice-President, Administration) participated in a national webinar sharing learnings and insights on how to keep safety culture and hazard and risk assessments top of mind for organizations in a health and safety a priority post-pandemic.

Slips, Trips and Falls Campaign

Slips, Trips and Falls (STF) continue to be a leading cause of serious injuries on campus. UHS has developed seasonal messaging to reduce these statistics with a special focus on STFs.

UHS recruits and trains volunteer employee fire wardens to help during fire drills and in the event of an actual fire. These employees help ensure buildings are exited and team members understand evacuation protocols. Every October, as part of Fire Prevention Week University Health and Safety (UHS), hosts an appreciation day for the Fire Wardens with a demonstration/talk provided by Hamilton Fire Department. This event also helps to recruit new fire wardens.

UHS distributes the Workplace Well-being quarterly newsletter to the McMaster community to share health, safety and wellness information and includes resources from University Health and Safety, Employee Health Services and Organizational Development.

The newsletter is distributed to more than 5,000 staff and faculty with on average 1,949 employees opening the newsletter.

Before McMaster students can hold an event on or off-campus, a risk assessment must be completed and submitted to the Student Event portal for approval. Events determined to be high risk are reviewed and approved by UHS. A student group must be approved/recognized by Student Affairs before it can arrange/propose events using McMaster’s name. Recognized Student Groups include The Society of Off-Campus Students; Affiliated Student Unions/Associations and their ratified Clubs; and Academic Societies and their approved Sub-Groups.

The Primary Event Organizer must submit event forms through the Student Risk Management and Event Planning Portal via the Student Affairs home page in order to receive approval for events. Forms must be submitted at least 5 business days or more prior to the event date to ensure that all levels of approval, affiliated student unions/association and UHS, have the appropriate time to review the details.

There are four types of high-risk activities that UHS reviews which include: physical activity, alcohol, travel and guest speaker events. Low-risk events such as meetings are automatically approved.

Medium-risk events are approved by the intermediate approver designated by the Faculty or an MSU representative. Additional information assessed prior to approval includes certificates of insurance for third-party vendors, contracts and waivers.

Health, Safety Risk Management (HSRM) is involved with student placements in our community and abroad. The Ministry of Colleges and Universities (MCU) is Ontario’s publicly funded Colleges and universities (Training Agencies) for students participating in unpaid work placements. MCU manages students’ unpaid work placements in accordance with Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) policy and procedures as well as with MCU guidelines.

HSRM actively works with Faculties to address inquiries and review contracts related to student placements. Students on placement are considered workers under the Occupational Health and Safety Act in the placement employer location and as such are entitled to the same protection as salary employees in that workplace. If the placement occurs outside Canada, our Risk Management Program #801 speaks to process/risk assessment completion required for submission for the proposed location in order to obtain approval to proceed.

HSRM provides documentation and health and safety checklists for placement employers to ensure students will be protected by appropriate safety policies and personal protective equipment when required.

Field research is an important component across many disciplines and areas of study, to collect data through observation outside of a classroom or laboratory, often outside of McMaster campus.

All faculty, staff and students participating in research field trips, research activities and placements (outside of Canada) that require McMaster sanctioned travel must complete the Field Trip/Student Placement/Research Activity Approval Form.

UHS plays a role in assessing and approving activities that qualify as significant or extreme risks to ensure the safety of all participants in field trips, research activities and student placements. UHS relies on Global Affairs Canada as a guiding resource for most approvals.

McMaster has invested in the global medical and security assistance program. This program is designed to keep faculty, staff and students healthy, safe and secure while they are travelling or living abroad within a McMaster capacity. International SOS provides medical, security and logistical expertise to help safeguard our international travellers. UHS provides this information in advance of departure.

UHS also manages McMaster’s travel safety and planning website which provides information and resources to help get prepared for international travel and fieldwork.

Occupational Hygiene is the science devoted to anticipating, recognizing, evaluating and controlling health hazards and helps workers avoid sickness, impaired health and well- being, or significant discomfort. The UHS team regularly conducts occupational hygiene sampling and provides expert advice and guidance in a variety of areas. These areas include asbestos, noise, indoor air quality, mould contamination and respiratory protection.

  • During a typical year hundreds of interactions/ consultations/investigations can occur related to these hazards which can include:
  • Providing guidance, recommendations and expert advice on a topic, including interpretation of legislation, standards, guidelines as well as the university’s Risk Management Manuals programs (RMMs) to ensure and maintain a healthy and safe working environment for the McMaster community
  • Regular consultation and partnership with Facility Services as well as other departments, consultants, contractors and union members during asbestos removal construction projects including attending occupants meetings to inform the affected occupants within the area of timelines, safety precautions following asbestos legislation, sampling requirements expected during the construction, site visits, review of hazardous materials including the university’s Workplace Hazardous Materials Inventory System (WHMIS) and abatement reports as well as answering questions or concerns from the McMaster community;
  • Utilization of a vast array of sampling equipment to quantify airborne concentrations related to indoor air quality, mould, noise, asbestos and interpretation of results, recommendations and conclusions provided in a technical report
  • Provide training on the usage, storage, maintenance and care of respirators/masks and respiratory fit testing certification following the CSA standard to ensure all employees/students have the appropriate respirator/mask to protect against the hazard along with the proper protective fit
  • Operating, maintaining, calibrating, coordinating the repair of all sampling equipment on hand to ensure validity and integrity of results

University Health and Safety (UHS) office is responsible for ensuring regulatory compliance of the use, management, and security of hazardous materials on campus.

All buildings on McMaster’s campus (excluding FHS) use the Higher Education Cooperative for Hazardous Materials and Equipment Tracking (HECHMET) chemical management system. HECHMET is now used in all Faculties (except for the Faculty of Health Sciences) and involves using a dedicated software to track chemicals and other materials within the university working environment.

Hazardous chemicals are tagged with a unique barcode label that cross-references to:

  • Storage location
  • Principal Investigator (PI) responsible for the item
  • Chemical properties and information
  • SDS-related information
  • Other information (e.g., information is secured using Access Levels)

The chemical inventory system allows McMaster to effectively:

  • Monitor the purchase of all Hazardous Materials.
  • Manage the distribution and access to these substances.
  • Monitor the locations and types of Hazardous Materials present.
  • Ensure appropriate disposal.
  • Ensure compliance with regulatory requirements; and
  • Encourage sharing among colleagues thereby reducing costs.

In partnership with the university’s hazardous chemical disposal contractor, all chemicals flow in and out of the system via barcoding and data entry by mail clerks and disposal/delisting from the system by the waste contractors and UHS. This has enabled UHS to quickly generate regulatory reports for government bodies and send reminders and notices to researchers regarding the handling and storage of dangerous and harmful chemicals.


UHS continues to coordinate with hazardous waste contractors on a weekly basis to manage hazardous waste removal in a responsible and environmentally safe manner. Biological waste removal was reduced from three times a week to once a week to reflect the reduced capacity of research during this past year. Special large-scale disposals were scheduled as needed. Hazardous chemical waste removal was maintained weekly throughout the year. Various lab clean-outs and highly sensitive chemicals categorized as explosives were removed as scheduled throughout the year.

Our People


Leah Allan headshot

Leah Allan

Lab Safety Specialist

Cheryl Beecroft

Health and Safety Specialist

Stacie Cameron

Specialist, University Health and Safety Programs

Dane DeMan headshot

Dane DeMan

Associate Director, University Health and Safety, EOHSS

headshot of Alicia Westfall

Alicia Westfall

Health and Safety Specialist