Guidelines for Laboratory Tours

The University of Toronto often invites visitors to campus for the purposes of community outreach, partnering with local schools, commercial ventures, etc. As such, the Environmental Health and Safety Office has developed the following guidelines to define the roles and expectations of all parties involved with a laboratory visit.

Please note that these guidelines are intended as a supplement to laboratory safety rules and standards, including biosafety, chemical safety, and radiation safety.

If you have any questions regarding these guidelines or need assistance organizing a tour based on these guidelines please contact the EHS Office at


  • Tour: An event which includes providing supervised access to a group of visitors. Tours are usually organized by an academic department, Principal Investigator, or lab personnel.
  • Organizer: The person or persons responsible for planning a tour. This may be the same person as the tour supervisor. Either the organizer or at least one tour supervisor must be Faculty or Staff of the University of Toronto.
  • Tour supervisor (TS): Personnel who will be physically present during the tour and charged with ensuring the safety of all visitors that participate in the tour. Either the organizer or at least one tour supervisor must be Faculty or Staff of the University of Toronto. Personnel who conduct demonstrations are generally considered to be TS.
  • Principal Investigator (PI): Principal Investigator(s) is the faculty member who own the responsibility of the laboratory. A PI may also be the organizer and/or a TS.
  • Visitors: For purposes of these guidelines visitors are defined as people who are part of the tour group that are generally not affiliated with the University of Toronto or not a normal user of that laboratory space. Anyone not affiliated with the lab or is not the organizer, a TS, or the PI will be considered a visitor.
  • Active research area: Research facilities where work with hazardous materials not related to the tour is being done by lab staff or students.
  • Demonstrations: Any planned activity in which visitors play a passive role and are restricted to observing the work being done.


  • Visitors
    • Follow the rules and practices set by the PI, TS, and the Organizer.
    • Visitors are required to wear long pants and close-toed shoes at minimum if entering a lab area. Additional PPE may be required if there is work being done while the tour is in the lab.
    • Wear PPE appropriate to the work being done. Additional PPE requirements may be set by the PI, TS, and/or the Organizer.
    • Report any issues (broken equipment, spills, missing chemicals, etc.) to the TS.
    • Visitors are not allowed to consume food or drink within any lab areas.
    • Visitors are not allowed to dispose of food or drink trash within any lab areas.
  • Organizer
    • Must obtain pre-approval from the PI for the facilities being toured.
    • Must obtain pre-approval from the PI for any activities, including demonstrations.
    • Responsible for ensuring that PPE is available if necessary for all participants in the tour.
    • Ensure that lab-specific training/instruction for the facility is provided to the TS.
    • Ensure that all TSs have proper lab safety training (at a minimum TS are expected to have completed the WHMIS and Lab Safety training, EHS101) and are appropriately trained to lead a tour group.
    • Responsible for ensuring an appropriate number of TSs are available to lead tours (there should be no more than 30 visitors per TS, for minors under the age of 14 there should be one TS to every 10 visitors).
  • TS
    • Ensure the safety of all visitors that are within the facility.
    • Ensure that all visitors are following rules set by the facility.
    • TS are expected to follow any and all SOPs for demonstrations.
    • The Tour Supervisor must be present at all times and is not allowed to give any visitors un-supervised access to a lab facility.
  • PI
    • Approve use of their facility for a tour
    • Approve any activities which will occur in the facility for which they are responsible.
    • Ensure that all hazardous materials and equipment are safely stored so as not to pose a hazard to the tour group
    • Respond to issues reported by the TS or Organizer for correction. EHS can be contacted to assist with determining corrective action.
    • Set safety rules and practices and convey these to TS and Organizers. Responsible parties may set rules, but those rules should not conflict with the University Laboratory Safety, Radiation Safety, Laser Safety, and Biosafety programs, the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety regulation, approved research protocols and SOPs, or Departmental policies.
    • Ensure all safety equipment, engineering controls, and facilities are in proper working order (e.g. BSC, fume hoods).


  • Visitors will not handle any hazardous materials as part of a tour.
  • No demonstrations are permitted within the research area where active research is taking place during the tour.
  • No work with radioactive materials, biohazardous materials of risk group 2 or higher, or chemicals that present an acute airborne health hazard is permitted.
  • Handling of hazardous materials as part of a demonstration requires use of PPE by the personnel conducting the demonstration.

Photos and Videos

 Photos and videos will follow the University of Toronto Guidelines for images (photo, video) in research and teaching laboratories.