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Hazardous substances

02 November 2023

UC has a great range of purpose built laboratory facilities. We undertake a diverse array of research activity and use a wide range of hazardous substances. We're committed to responsibly managing hazardous substances throughout their life cycle, from procurement to eventual disposal. Learn more about managing hazardous substances at UC.


The University complies with the following legislation and regulations:

As a research and teaching facility, University of Canterbury has a large number of laboratories that are exempt from certain regulations, as set out in Part 18 of the Hazardous Substance Regulations 2017.

The Protocol: Hazardous Substances Part 18 Laboratories sets out how University of Canterbury meets responsibilities as the manager of these exempt facilities. The Protocol covers:

  • Tracking and storage of hazardous substances
  • Handling and control of hazardous substances
  • Responsibilities for Laboratory Management
  • Knowledge requirements for persons handling hazardous substances
  • Emergency Response Plans
  • Laboratory design and equipment

Please note that this protocol document is under review as work is currently underway between New Zealand Universities and WorkSafe to review the laboratory regulations.

Laboratory and facility managers are responsible for ensuring that Safe Methods of Use are in place for each hazardous substance present, and to ensure that students and staff are informed about these.

The University uses ChemWatch for Safety Data Sheet information on specific substances. Access is only available for University of Canterbury staff and students.

See also:

Asbestos is a known risk, but it is well managed and the risk to the University of Canterbury community is negligible. University of Canterbury has an Asbestos Management Plan that sets out how the university manages asbestos.

University of Canterbury has been managing asbestos in line with recommended practice for many years and has an asbestos register. Information is available on what asbestos is, how it presents a risk to health, and how and why it needs to be managed, in a lecture presented by Professor Ian Shaw (Clicking link will download video content). Worksafe also has excellent information relating to the management of asbestos

Information on specific buildings is stored in a database accessible through Engineering Services. Signage is in place in all buildings reminding tradespeople and contractors to check the database before commencing any work.

If you suspect you have found asbestos, do not attempt to clean it up yourself. Isolate the surrounding area so that the material remains undisturbed and immediately contact Facilities Management or Grant Craig, Facilities H&S Specialist, on 027 809 2379.

Please contact the Health and Safety Team if you have any concerns..

Departments dealing with hazardous substances undertake annual audits to ensure that best practices are being followed in terms of storage, usage, and disposal of the hazardous substances, and that the people involved are sufficiently knowledgeable and supervised.  The audit is used to inform of any corrective actions required. Access the document here: Hazardous Substance Management Audit

The key element in hazardous waste management is minimisation of waste generation. However there is an immediate and continuing requirement to carefully manage the disposal of hazardous waste. University of Canterbury has a Protocol: Hazardous Waste Disposal which sets out principles and practices of minimisation and disposal of hazardous waste.

All exempt laboratories, regardless of quantities of hazardous substances held, will have a Local Emergency Response Plan.

Outside of exempt laboratories, the Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017 sets out threshold quantities of hazardous substances that require an emergency response plan.  

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