Food & Beverages In Labs

In accordance with government regulations intended to minimize chemical exposures, it is widespread accepted practice to prohibit food and drink from laboratories where chemicals or other hazardous materials are used and stored. Past internal compliance inspections conducted by the Environmental Management (EM) Department have identified instances of food/drink in labs as violations. However, academic departments have requested that in some areas space considerations require student offices to be located within the same room as laboratory space, and to allow some accommodation for allowing food and drink in those specific areas.

Ideally, all student office areas would be physically separated from laboratory work areas, but it is recognized that current space considerations do not allow that. While the university does not have the ability to waive safety requirements, an accommodation can be made to refrain from recording violations of the laboratory food/drink policy if:

  • All food/drink is kept strictly within student office space (desks).
  • Signage is appropriately placed defining the student office space and noting that no food/drink is allowed outside the defined space.
  • Documentation is generated noting that students occupying these office areas have received specific training on food/drink requirements.
  • No chemicals are brought into or stored in the office space. There must be a clear distinction between the lab and office workspaces.

Any evidence of food/drink observed within laboratory workspace during EM compliance inspections will continue to be recorded as a violation. Despite this accommodation, the potential for exposure in these areas will remain, and it is possible that a regulatory inspection would consider food/drink in the lab, even limited to office space, to be a violation. Any issues arising from this would be the responsibility of the academic department.