Guidelines for Images in Research and Teaching Laboratories

Photos and videos taken in laboratories provide the University of Toronto Community and the general public an opportunity to observe the research/laboratory environment at the University. Health and safety is of paramount importance and therefore images for public dissemination that depict a laboratory environment must illustrate the use of appropriate safety equipment and attire in order to promote a culture of safety that is in keeping with University’s policies, procedures and guidelines. Therefore, adhering to best safety practices is essential, not only in actual situations but also when taking images within our labs, as such images represent the University of Toronto research community and should reflect our mission to ensure a healthy and safe study, work and research environment. Photos and videos that are to be used in University publications (electronic or print) should depict appropriate safety equipment and attire as applicable. These guidelines apply to all locations where images of university personnel, equipment and/or work may be taken, for example: hospitals, clinics, placement sites etc.


  • CSA Canadian Standards Association
  • Publication: Includes, but is not limited to: books, magazines, newspapers, journals, pamphlets, web sites, social media, videos, television etc.
  • PPE: Personal Protective Equipment (e.g. lab coats, gloves, safety glasses/goggles (CSA), face shields, hearing protection, respirators, covering uniform, protective footwear (e.g. CSA), gowns, shoe and head covers, ear loop masks, etc.)
  • SOP: Standard Operating Procedure


Principal Investigator (PI)/Lab Supervisor/Lab Users:

The PI has overall responsibility to ensure that images taken in laboratory environments depict appropriate PPE in images. It is expected that superseding safety requirements regarding PPE will be practiced when images are taken in a lab. Therefore the PI must ensure that, at minimum  lab coats, safety eyewear, masks and gloves are worn in every photo or video taken in a lab setting, even when they would not normally be worn, since those viewing the photo might misinterpret a lack of PPE.  However, it is recognized that, in some cases, the use of additional PPE may not be appropriate and/or cause confusion, depending on the context of the image taken.  Therefore, for particular environments where certain PPE would be obviously inappropriate, such as a clearly denoted dry lab or computer lab, the PI should decide the maximum level of PPE acceptable for the image being taken, which may or may not include lab coats, safety eyewear, masks and gloves etc. In such cases, content creators are to use explanatory language on images to ensure viewers understand that safety gear is not necessary, for example: All researchers pictured above are using the appropriate level of safety gear for the lab pictured; read more about safety gear at

In addition, the PI is also responsible for:

  • Ensuring that the area has been made safe by relocating hazardous material from the vicinity of the photo/video-shoot and shutting down unnecessary equipment.
  • Working with the photographer/videographer to identify the appropriate personal safety equipment worn in the laboratory and the appropriate safety equipment for the activity being portrayed in the photograph or video.
  • Ensuring that PPE is worn and engineering controls are used in the images/videos (e.g. fume hoods, biological safety cabinets, sharps containers, lock-out/tag-out equipment, life safety equipment, machine guards).
  • Ensuring that all applicable SOPs and best practices are followed (e.g. no food or drink in the lab, ensuring that legs are covered, ensuring that closed-toe and safe shoes are used).
  • Ensuring that all necessary safety signs and equipment are visible, well maintained, and up-to-date.
  • Ensuring that the laboratory is safe for the photographer (external contractor, University employee, student newspaper representatives etc.) and any potential for cross-contamination of photographic and/or other equipment is eliminated.



  • Consult with the Principal Investigator, lab supervisor, and lab occupants to identify the appropriate PPE to be worn and/or used for the activity being portrayed.
  • Wear appropriate PPE themselves if appropriate to do so, in consultation with the PI.
  • For contractors (external to the University), follow applicable contractor safety considerations while on the premises, including but not limited to: safe use of imaging equipment while in the lab, safe handling of any agents in the lab for purposes of image taking, etc. For specific questions regarding contractor safety when taking images at the university please contact EHS.

Lab-Specific Requirements
Each type of lab environment has specific PPE requirements. Some typical types of labs are listed below. Please refer to applicable lab manuals, SOPs etc. Please contact EHS for any questions regarding PPE use when taking images or video in any lab environment.

General or analytical
High toxicity
Controlled environmental room
Teaching lab
Gross anatomy
Animal research

Historical, Archived & Pre-existing Images
Historical, archival and pre-existing images taken previously may represent situations where applicable PPE is not worn or insufficient. If a unit wishes to use such materials, please contact EHS and we will assist in assessing/modifying the images in order to facilitate their use if applicable/appropriate to do so.

Additional Resources
Link to our lab attire safety posters:

If you have any queries or concerns regarding the applicability, application and/or implementation of these procedures please contact (