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Campus Safety Services

Campus Emergency Guide

Emergency Guidebook

The purpose of the McMaster Emergency Guidebook is to provide McMaster faculty and staff with clear, concise, and up-to-date safety resources to help them prepare for and deal with emergencies. While emergencies are typically unpredictable, we hope to provide foundational health and safety knowledge that can assist our faculty and staff in times of crisis. Being prepare and informed can be critical when urgent action is needed, and the McMaster Emergency Guidebook has been compiled with this in mind.

  • Take all bomb threats seriously
  • Remain calm and be courteous to the caller
  • Listen carefully to the caller
  • Record the information listed on the telephone call display
  • Make notes that record the conversation with the caller

If possible ask questions:

  • Where is the bomb? What does it look like?
  • When will it explode?
  • Why did you plant the bomb?
  • What is your name? Do you represent a group?

Most people who call in bomb threats don’t expect to be questioned. By asking questions, you may get the caller to reveal important information.

At the end of the call, notify Security Services immediately

Dial 88 on University phones

External phones dial 905-522-4135

Security Services staff will respond and investigate the threat

Bomb Threat: Code Black

To report that you have received a bomb threat, contact your location-specific emergency number:

  • HHS: Dial Ext. 5555
  • St. Joseph’s: Ext. 7777

Follow local Code Black protocols.

The McMaster University Policy and Program on Workplace Violence can be found online at

If you are confronted with a developing violent situation, the following is a list of actions that are recommended. It should be noted that these types of incidents are unpredictable. The guidelines below are recommendations that are based on best practices and were developed in consultation with the Hamilton Police Services.

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, violence can be defined as the exercise of physical force by a person against a worker, in a workplace, that causes or could cause physical injury to the worker; an attempt to exercise physical force against a worker, in a workplace that could cause physical injury to a worker; and a statement or behaviour that is reasonable for a worker to interpret as a threat to exercise physical force against the worker, in a workplace, that causes physical injury to the worker.

  1. Exit the building immediately if it is safe to do so
  2. Notify anyone you encounter to also exit the building immediately
  3. Call McMaster Security Services from any campus phone by dialling Ext. 88 from campus phones, 905-522-4135 from external lines, or use the MUSST App.
    Give the McMaster Security Services dispatcher the following information:

    • Your name
    • Location of the incident (be as specific as possible)
    • Describe the incident (shooting, hostage, etc.)
    • Number of suspects (if known)
    • Description or identity of suspects
    • Your current location
  4. Report to your building fire evacuation assembly area. This should be done only if it is reasonably safe to do so, and you may be further directed by Security, Police or Fire Wardens to move to an alternate area.
  5. All incidents or threats of workplace violence must be reported to EOHSS using the Injury/Incident Report form immediately following the incident.

Code White: Violent Person

Code Purple: Hostage Taking

Code Silver: Active Shooter

Follow local Lockdown protocol



Student and Staff training is available here

View the “Get Out, Hide, Fight” video

If the situation is happening near you, please follow the safest course of action as follows:

  • GET OUT. If you think a dangerous situation is developing, or you are alerted about a situation, do not wait. Get Out.
  • HIDE. If it is too late and you cannot get out — Hide. Find the safest place you can, and make it safer.
    • Lock the door
    • Close the blinds
    • Barricade the door
    • Stay away from the door and windows
  • FIGHT. Fighting is your last resort. You would only confront a violent or armed intruder if you somehow became trapped in a space with no escape. A violent or armed intruder typically doesn’t respond to reason so you must assume they intend to harm you. Find an object you can use to strike the shooter with; trip them with a chair; be as aggressive as you can; do anything you can to stop them.

Remain in place until Hamilton Police, McMaster Security, or other emergency personnel arrive at your location to provide assistance and directions to leave. Emergency personnel will have keys to your area.

Since 2007, McMaster University has installed a number of notification systems intended to be activated in the event of a campus-wide situation. Due to the size, population, and diversity of the McMaster campus, multiple methods of communication have been established to increase the efficiency of the notification.

Sirens: Outdoor sirens, which have the option of sending a verbal message as well as an audible siren, are installed on the McMaster campus. These sirens can be heard outdoors as well as from some indoor locations.

Video Information Screens: LCD screens are installed in almost all campus buildings. In the event of an emergency, a message is sent to all screens providing information about the incident. Such alerts are also available for desktop computers; the software to install this capability is available online here.

Assistance Phones: Campus Assistance Phones (red emergency poles) are equipped with a public address system that notifies of an emergency situation through a PA system. This notification can be heard by anyone within the vicinity of the phones.

Email: McMaster employs a system to send out emergency emails to all McMaster students, staff and faculty.

Alertus Mobile App: The Alertus Mobile App for smartphones provides push notifications for emergency alerts to your Apple or Android device during emergencies on campus. Please click here for more information.

On-Campus Emergencies

Campus Security & Emergency Response

Fire, First Aid, Crimes in Progress
Personal Safety
Bomb Threats
Alarm Systems
Vehicle Accidents
Maintenance Emergencies (off hours)

University Lines: Ext. 88
External Lines: 905-522-4135

Maintenance Emergencies (Regular Hours – Facility Services ) Ext. 24740
EOHSS Environmental and Occupational Health Support Services Ext. 24352
Faculty of Health Sciences Safety Of?ce Ext. 24956
SWHAT Student Walk Home Attendant Team Ext. 27500

Other Important Numbers

(If using a University phone, dial ‘9’ before the phone number)

Emergency 911
Hamilton Police Services (non-emergency) 905-546-4925
Ambulance (non-emergency) 905-574-1414
Poison Control 1-800-268-9017
Crime Stoppers 1-800-222-TIPS (8477)
Sexual Assault Centre 905-525-4162
McMaster Human Rights and Equity Services Ext. 27581
McMaster EFAP (Employee Family Assistant Program)

Toll-free English
TTY (hard of hearing)


Red Assistance Phones

Red assistance phones are located throughout the McMaster campus. These phones provide direct access to Security Services. Additionally, the University’s main campus pay phones have a “Security Hot-Button” that also provides direct access to Security Services.

Campus Wide Emergency Information

McMaster Emergency Line Main Switchboard 905-525-9140
McMaster’s Website
McMaster Daily News
McMaster Security Services
McMaster Facebook page
McMaster Twitter feed

Local Radio Stations

CHML (900 AM)
CFMU (93.3 FM)
K-Lite (102.9 FM)
Wave (94.7 FM)

Local Television Station


HHS & Offsite Location Telephone Numbers

Hamilton Health Sciences Switchboard 905-521-2100
St. Joseph’s Hospital 905-522-1155
Faculty of Health Sciences Health & Safety Office Ext. 24956

HHS & Offsite Emergency Contact Numbers

Hamilton Health Sciences Ext. 5555
St. Joseph’s Hospital & affiliates including St. Peter’s Ext. 7777
Juravinski Cancer Centre Ext. 5555
Chedoke Hospital Ext. 5555
Hamilton General Hospital Ext. 5555
All other offsite locations (emergency response) 911

Emergency Codes for Hamilton Health Sciences, St. Joseph’s Hospital, & Offsite Locations

Code Red Fire Emergencies
Code Green Emergency Evacuation
Code Blue Medical Emergencies
Code White Violence Emergency
Code Purple Hostage Taking
Code Silver Active Shooter
Code Brown Hazardous Material Spill
Code Grey Loss of Essential Services
Code Black Bomb Threat
Code Orange External Disaster (incoming)
Code Amber/Yellow Missing Person or Child
Code Aqua Uncontrollable Release of Water

Further information for Hamilton Health Sciences and offsite locations can be found at

In the event that the campus must close, McMaster has a plan to ensure that an evacuation is conducted as quickly and as safely as possible. The McMaster community will be informed of the evacuation by either a voice announcement over the campus siren system, email, or by staff personally notifying each building.

The University’s Crisis Management Group has the authority to implement a controlled evacuation of the campus for the following crises:

    • Natural Crisis – including, but not limited to, winter storms, blizzards, tornadoes, floods, lightning strikes, etc.
    • Human Caused Crisis – included, but not limited to, nuclear reactor incident, serious criminal activity affecting the University community, fire, any vehicle accident with mass casualties, medical emergencies such as food poisoning or epidemic, student or labour unrest, etc.


In the event that an evacuation is initiated by the Crisis Management Group (CMG), routes for vehicle traffic may be designated (see below). Following these routes will ensure that roadways will remain clear for emergency responders and emergency transportation vehicles. Parking & Security staff will be posted to direct vehicle traffic flow. If necessary, buses will be arranged to evacuate residence students to an alternate location until it is safe to return to campus.

Emergency Evacuation: Code Green

HHS/St. Joseph’s: follow local evacuation protocols specific to your clinic/ward/office area.

Physical Impairment:

If a physical impairment restricts mobility and prevents evacuation, please call McMaster Security Services by dialing Ext. 88 from campus phones or 905-522-4135 from external lines.



Upon hearing an alarm:

  1. Immediately leave the building by the designated exit. If the primary exit is dangerous, use the nearest safe alternate exit.
  2. Proceed to an assembly area at least 100 ft. (300 meters) away from the exit
  3. Keep entrance ways, access ways, and roadways clear
  4. Await additional instructions from McMaster Security

If you encounter smoke:

  1. Crouch low to the floor and take shallow breaths
  2. If possible, place a moist cloth over your mouth and nose
  3. Proceed to the nearest safe exit

If you discover a fire:

  1. Close any doors leading to the fire area
  2. Pull the nearest fire alarm
  3. Proceed to an assembly area away from the building

If you are trapped by a fire:

  1. Let someone know where you are. If phones are functional call McMaster Security by dialing Ext. 88 from campus phones, 905-522-4135 from external lines, or use the McMaster Safety App to directly contact McMaster Security Services
  2. Tell the dispatcher your exact location
  3. If possible, close any doors and use anything you can find to seal cracks (towels, clothing, etc.) to protect yourself from smoke and fire.





Operating a Fire Extinguisher:

Remember P.A.S.S.

Pull the pin

Aim at the base of the flame

Squeeze the handle to release contents

Sweep the extinguishing agent over the fire slowly from side to side

Fire Classifications:

Class A: wood, paper, textiles

Class B: flammable liquids & gases

Class C: electrically energized fires

Class D: flammable metals

Fire Blankets are used to wrap around a person whose clothing has ignited.

Please note that Fire Blankets are not to be substituted for an approved fire extinguisher and are to be used for people fires only

Things to Remember during Fire Emergencies:

  • DO NOT use elevators
  • DO NOT re-enter the building until the ‘all clear’ is given
  • Heat and gas rise, so if smoke enters the room – crouch low to the ground
  • Fire extinguishers are only intented for small fires

Individuals Requiring Assistance:

All individual requiring specialized assistance are encouraged to contact EOHSS (Ext. 24352 or to arrange for an assessment. An Individual Emergency Response Plan will be completed to assist affected individuals during emergency situations. There is no requirement to disclose personal medical information. Managers and supervisors are encouraged to communicate the availability of this service to their employees.


Fire Emergencies: Code Red

If you smell smoke…

If you smell smoke but you do not see smoke or fire, call Ext. 5555 at HHS or Ext. 7777 at St. Joseph’s, and report the smell of smoke and give your name and exact location

If you find a fire or see smoke…


Remove persons in immediate danger

Ensure door is closed to confine fire/smoke

Activate fire alarm at a nearest pull station

Call Ext. 5555 at HHS, or Ext. 7777 at St. Joseph’s to report a fire – give your name and exact location

Try to extinguish the fire only if it is safe to do so

When the Fire Alarm System is activated…

      • Building occupants are alerted of a possible fire emergency by bells
      • The location of the fire is automatically identified and the Fire Department is notified
      • Smoke and fire separation doors close automatically
      • Magnetic locking devices on doors release
      • Air handling systems shut down to help control smoke movement
      • Elevators stop functioning

Note: The fire alarm system in a hospital is a two-stage alarm; please learn your local system.

“Code Red”

“Code Green”

Gaining information about emergency codes requires that a member of the area staff is immediately dispatched to listen for the overhead paged information.

FHS Evacuation Plan: If you are a Faculty of Health Sciences staff or student and there is a clear and present danger, fire and smoke threaten, or you hear the second stage alarm “Code Green In-Effect Evacuate”, evacuate from the building using the closest safe stairwell down and out of the building. Meet at your group’s previously designated location outside the building.

Harassment is the act of engaging in a course of vexatious comments or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome.

Harassment can take many forms, such as the following:

    • Unwelcome physical contact
    • Inappropriate looks, gestures, jokes, or displays of offensive materials
    • Damaging personal property
    • Gossiping, ignoring, or excluding someone
    • Persistent criticism or public reprimands
    • Offensive or intimidating emails, texts, Facebook messages, etc.

Sources of harassment can range from fellow employees and supervisors, to students and clients.

Harassment that targets an individual or group of individuals on the basis of one or more protected human rights grounds is not only a breach of University policy, but also a breach of the Ontario Human Rights Code.

What to do if you are being harassed:

  1. If threat is imminent: call security on campus at Ext. 24281 or 905-522-4135.
  2. Tell the Harasser to Stop: if it is too difficult to speak directly to the harasser, try sending a letter or email. Identify the incidents(s), state what you found to be hurtful in the harasser’s behaviour, and state clearly that you want the harasser to stop. Keep a copy of all correspondence.
  3. Keep a Record: Record dates, times, nature, and details of the incidents as well as names of witnesses (if any) at the time.
  4. Protect Yourself: If possible, avoid being alone with the harasser. If you have contact, written or verbal, stay calm and avoid resorting to behaviour that could lead to charges of harassment against you.
  5. Get Support: Find someone supportive who will respect how you feel, and tell them about the harassment. They can then make sure that you are not left alone with the harasser, could be present if you decide to confront the harasser, and can provide support.
  6. Ask for Help: Contact security at Ext. 24281. Call and discuss the situation with Human Rights and Equity Service Office at Ext. 27581 or Employee and Labour Relations at Ext. 23850 for assistance in resolving the situation. See a doctor if you are having health-related issues as a result of the harassment.

The McMaster Anti-Discrimination Policy can be found online at

Offsite: If the threat is imminent, call 911. Otherwise, discuss all harassment-related issues with your supervisor.

Early reporting is essential to successfully respond to an infectious disease incident. Examples of infectious disease include hepatitis, rabies exposure, meningitis, tuberculosis, etc.

Employees are responsible for notifying their direct supervisor when they become aware of an infectious disease incident. Supervisors and/or department heads are required to report any case of an infectious disease incident and must ensure available information of the incident is provided to McMaster Security Services at Ext. 88 (on-campus) or 905-522-4135 from non-campus phones, as well as Employee Health Services via the Occupational Health Nurses at Ext. 20309 or Ext. 20310.

Employee Health Services will communicate these incidents, as appropriate, with Public Health, the Student Wellness Centre, and the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board.

Ensuring your own safety and that of the injured person.

Handling the Emergency:

  1. For On-Campus Emergencies, call McMaster Security Services
    • Dial Ext. 88 from any campus phone
    • Dial 905-522-4135 from non-campus phones
    • Red Assistance Phones located throughout campus provide a direct link to McMaster Security Services
    • Use the McMaster Safety App to directly contact McMaster Security Services
  2. Advise the dispatcher of the nature of the injury or illness, as well as your location (building, street address, and/or floor and room number)
  3. Do not move the injured person unless there is a high risk of further injury or death
  4. Keep calm and do not leave the injured person unattended
  5. Provide first aid only if qualified, otherwise wait for a first response team to arrive (McMaster Security Services and Emergency First Response Team (EFRT) will be dispatched to the situation to provide emergency assistance for Main Campus emergencies)

Medical Emergencies: Code Blue

  • HHS: Dial Ext. 5555
  • St. Joseph’s Hospital: Dial Ext. 7777
  • Off-Site Locations: Dial 911

Supervisors/Department Heads:

In the case of a critical injury, the following steps must be taken:

  • Secure the accident site and ensure that further injury is prevented
  • Immediately arrange for medical and emergency assistance by calling the appropriate number
  • Immediately notify Environmental and Occupational Health Support Services (EOHSS) at Ext. 24532. After hours, please contact McMaster Security Services at Ext. 88.
  • Ensure that the site remains undisturbed until the EOHSS/FHS Safety Office provides clearance

FHS Locations: contact the Faculty of Health Sciences Office at 905-525-9140 Ext. 24956

After the Incident:

All medical injuries require the completion of a McMaster University Injury/Incident Report. It is available from your supervisor and online at

Reports can be emailed to EOHSS at, or faxed at 905-540-9085.

FHS Locations: fax incident reports to the Faculty of Health Sciences Safety Office at 905-528-8539

McMaster University’s Nuclear Reactor (MNR) has been safely in operation since 1959. Safety and security of the MNR is governed by strict licensing requirements. Although the possibility of a nuclear emergency is remote, staff must be prepared and trained to deal with the types of incidents that could occur. For more information regarding the MNR, please visit

Pre-Release Evacuation:

In the event of a nuclear emergency, the buildings in the immediate vicinity of the MNR will be evacuated prior to the release of any radioactive material from the MNR. A campus-wide evacuation is NOT necessary at this stage.

  • The evacuation will be signaled by fire alarms, signage, and/or by public address (where possible). If alarms are used, staff will inform people of the reason why they must evacuate the premises
  • Yellow tape will cordon off the Emergency Safety Zone to restrict access
  • Non-emergency response personnel will be evacuated from the following buildings:
    • Reactor Evacuation Zone
        • John Hodgins Engineering Building (JHE)
        • A.N. Bourns Building (ABB)
        • Thode Library (Thode)
        • Tandem Accelerator (Tandem)
        • McMaster Nuclear Reactor (MNR)
        • Clarke Utility Centre (CUC)
        • General Sciences Building (GSB)
        • Burke Science Building (BSB)
        • Nuclear Research Building (NRB)

Follow-up contamination monitoring will not be necessary in the successful activation of the plan at this stage.

Radioactive Release:

If it is not possible to evacuate prior to the release of radioactive material, or if radioactive material is released before evacuation is completed, people in the evacuation control zone may be instructed to “Shelter in Place” until they can undergo monitoring for contamination.

Shelter in Place:

    • Stay inside of the building to protect against radiation exposure
    • Keep windows and doors closed
    • Fire marshals/Health Physics, Security Services, or reactor personnel will provide updates and direct personnel to safety

If it is necessary to shelter in place, signs will be posted on exit doors of your building and fire marshals will be utilized to control the exits.

Contamination Monitoring:Evacuation Zone

If radioactive material is released prior to the completion of the evacuation, people evacuating from the area will be required to undergo monitoring for contamination.

    • Staff will instruct people in affected buildings to “shelter in place”
    • Health Physics/MNR, or McMaster Security Staff will escort personnel to the monitoring station
    • If contamination is detected, assistance will be provided to decontaminate

Staff will report release/contamination to their local radiation safety officer or Health Physics at Ext. 24226. Health Physics will then escort personnel to the monitoring station.

Your personal safety is important to McMaster University. We have numerous personal safety devices on the campus for your safety, such as: closed circuit TV (CCTV) cameras, red campus assistance phones, and the Student Walk Home Attendant Team (SWHAT). Below are some personal safety tips that can assist you in remaining safe both on and off campus.

On the Street:

    • Walk in groups
    • Avoid dark and/or deserted areas
    • Plan your route – avoid shortcuts and take the most frequently traveled route
    • Be alert
    • Walk near curbs, away from shrubs
    • Familiarize yourself with the locations of the red campus assistance phones
    • If you think you are being followed, go to the nearest public place
    • Let people know where you will be, and what time to expect your arrival

Building/Office Safety:

    • Ensure the exterior of the building is secure; do NOT prop doors open
    • Keep office and personal property secure at all times
    • Do not lend keys or access cards to anyone
    • If a door is unable to be secured, or you have lost or misplaced your keys and/or access card, contact McMaster Security Services immediately by dialing Ext. 88 from campus phones or 905-522-4135 from external lines.
    • HHS: Dial Ext. 5555
    • St. Joseph’s Hospital: Dial Ext. 7777
    • Off-Site Locations: contact your supervisor or building manager

Suspicious Activity:

If you witness anything unusual or abnormal in your building or on-campus, contact McMaster Security Services immediately by dialing Ext. 88 from campus phones, 905-522-4135 from external lines, or use the McMaster Safety App.

Student Walk Home Attendant Team (SWHAT):

SWHAT is a volunteer service provided by the McMaster Students Union. It is available 7 days a week throughout the fall and winter school terms, from 7 pm until 1 am, and 2 am on weekends. SWHAT will walk anyone anywhere on-campus, as well as 30 minutes off-campus, and will even take the bus too. Dial Ext. 27500 or use the McMaster Safety App to request this service, or to find out more details.

    • HHS: Dial Ext. 5555 for security escort
    • St. Joseph’s Hospital:Dial Ext. 7777 for security escort
    • DTC: Dial Ext. 23206 for security escort
    • RJC: Dial Ext. 20536 for security escort

If there is a person on campus who is causing you concern – for example: if their behaviour is a concern, they are a person who you believe could be a threat to the university or campus community, or they are a person who you feel needs assistance or support, we have services to assist in these situations.

For more information, please refer to the McMaster Workplace Violence Program and Guidelines at

Violence Risk Assessment Team

McMaster University has created the Violence Risk Assessment Team, which is a sub-committee of the Crisis Management Group (CMG). This team takes a multi-disciplinary approach to assessment, investigation, and response to reports of behaviour that is of potential concern or threat to the University community. The team is made up a diverse population of the campus including representation from Human Resources, Health and Safety, Academics, Dean of Students and Student Affairs.

In cases where support is required… please contact the appropriate department. All of these areas rely on the support of The Violence Risk Assessment Team and can activate this team as required:

  • For Staff Assistance: Human Resources & Labour Relations (Ext. 23850)
  • For Student Assistance: Student Affairs (Ext. 27455)

In cases where immediate response is required… please contact McMaster Security Services at Ext. 88 from campus phones or 905-522-4135 from external lines; they will then use this information to conduct a primary assessment of the case.

Emergency Situations

During regular business hours, students requiring immediate help because of life-threatening or servere psychological difficulties can book a Crisis Appointment at the Student Wellness Centre by dialing Ext. 27700 or visiting the centre in MUSC B101

For assistance after hours or any situation requiring immediate referral, contact McMaster Security Services by dialing Ext. 88 from campus phones, or 905-522-4135 from external lines.

FHS Locations:

  • HHS: Dial Ext. 5555
  • St. Joseph’s: Dial Ext. 7777
  • Other site locations locations: Dial 911 for emergency response

Direct or Indirect Reference to Suicide:

Regardless of the circumstances or context, references to committing suicide should be taken very seriously and a mental health professional should be consulted.

Threats and Disruptive Behaviour:

Intervention varies with the severity of the behaviour however; physical violence causing bodily harm and specific threats must be reported immediately to McMaster Security Services by dialing Ext. 88 from campus phones, or 905-522-4135 from external lines.

Drug and Alcohol Misuse:

If a student appears to have a pattern of substance abuse, it is important to refer the student to counseling; however, it is also important to speak to the student when he or she is sober. In case of an apparent drug overdose or severe drug reaction, call McMaster Security Services by dialing Ext. 88 from campus phones, or 905-522-4135 from external lines.

Other Areas of Concern:

Students experiencing the following difficulties should seek assistance, or be encouraged to do so by calling or visiting the Student Wellness Centre at MUSC B101 (Ext. 27700).

  • Eating disorders
  • Assault and harassment
  • Marked changes in mood or behaviour
  • Difficulties communicating and/or apparent distortions of reality
  • Learning and academic problems

Report all injuries/incidents and hazards to your supervisor and complete an Injury/Incident Report. These reports are available from your supervisor, or at For injuries/incidents requiring immediate medical attention, please refer to the Medical Emergencies section of the guidebook.

Forward Injury/Incident Reports to the appropriate health and safety office. Email reports to Environmental and Occupational Health Support Services (EOHSS) at, or fax at 905-540-9085.

For FHS locations, fax reports to Faculty of Health Sciences Safety Office at 905-528-8539

For safety concerns arising outside of business hours, contact McMaster Seucrity Services on-campus at Ext. 24281, or speak to your supervisor.

Contact EOHSS at Ext. 24352 for further assistance reporting injuries/incidents and hazards. Additional information can be found in the Risk Management Manual (RMM) #1000: Reporting and Investigating Injury/Incident/Occupational Disease Program available at

Please refer to the Medical Emergencies section of this Guidebook for further information in regards to reporting a critical injury.

For FHS locations, contact the Faculty of Health Sciences Safety Office at Ext. 24956 for further assistance reporting injuries/incidents and hazards.

If you detect a suspicious odour:

  1. Leave the area immediately and wait to assist responders with information.
  2. During normal business hours, notify your supervisor.
  3. Contact Customer Service Centre (Facility Services) at Ext. 24740 and ask what the response time will be.
  4. Contact Environmental Occupational Health Support Services (EOHSS) at Ext. 24352 during regular business hours. After hours, call McMaster Security Services by dialing Ext. 88 from campus phones, or 905-522-4135 from external lines.
  5. Describe the location and characteristics of the odour (ex. what does it smell like?). Relay any other information that may be relevant to the situation.

Chemical and Radioactive Spills

These are general guidelines that should be customized to meet the needs of the individual laboratory/studio or operation. These guidelines shall only be performed by trained and competent individuals with the proper equipment and tools to clean up the spill safely.

Determine if the spill is Minor or Major/Complex and follow the procedures applicable for handling that type of spill.

Minor Spill:

An amount that is safe to clean up; easily contained from drains, ignition sources and incompatible chemicals; not immediately dangerous to life and health (IDLH); there is no likelihood of fire or explosion; proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is available and person is fit tested and trained in use.

    • Report incident to Supervisor/Principal Investigator.
    • Treat the spill using appropriate spill response procedures as outlined in Chemical Handling and Spills Response training and specific emergency spill response procedures applicable to area/laboratory.
    • Submit Injury/Incident Report to EOHSS with complete details of the spill along with corrective measures.

Major/Complex Spill:

Any amount that is not safe to clean up; there is potential for release to atmosphere, discharge to sewer, leak into soils or surface water; there is immediate danger to life or health; likelihood of a fire or explosion; PPE is not available; spill kits are not available.

    • Ensure you move to a safe location.
    • Alert staff in area, contact Supervisor/Principal Investigator.
    • Provide rescue or first aid only if you are safe to do so.
    • Pull fire alarm, and contact McMaster Security Services by dialing Ext. 88 from campus phones, and 905-522-4135 from external lines
    • Provide the following information: building, floor, room number, Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and any other potential hazards/chemical mixtures and the chemical state of the spill (solid, liquid, or gas).
    • Submit Injury/Incident Report to EOHSS with complete details of the spill along with corrective measures.

Radioactive Spill:

If radioactive material is spilled, authorized users who have been trained to use radioactive materials should follow the appropriate spill response procedures which can be found at

Staff who have not been trained to use radioactive material will report the release/contamination to their supervisor, McMaster Security Services, and Health Physics at Ext. 24266 or Ext. 23365 or Ext. 24099.

    • Health Physics will supervise the response to the spill

Hazardous Material Spill: Code Brown

FHS Locations:

      1. Leave the area and contact your supervisor.
      2. At HHS call Ext. 5555, St Joseph’s call Ext. 7777.
      3. The Spill Team will call in an external response company.
      4. Follow local spill response protocols.

If a spill is close to a drain or a sewer, the area should be covered using a spill pillow. If a chemical enters a drain or a sewer, immediately notify EOHSS at Ext. 24352. After hours, notify Security Services at Ext. 88.

If you notice a suspicious package/letter:

  • Do NOT handle the package/letter
  • Notify McMaster Security Services by dialing Ext. 88 from campus phones, or 905-522-4135 from external lines

FHS Locations:

  • HHS: Dial Ext. 5555
  • St. Joseph’s: Dial Ext. 7777
  • Offsite locations: Call 911

If you open a suspicious package/letter:

  • If you have opened the letter, rest it down gently where you first read it.  Leave it alone, remain calm and avoid sudden movements
  • Inform a co-worker in the immediate area about what has happened, and ask them to call McMaster Security Services by dialing Ext. 88 from campus phones, or 905-522-4135 from external lines
  • Have a co-worker turn on water to prevent the contamination of surfaces and wash hands thoroughly. Move to an area where you can avoid contact with others and stay there
  • Remain calm – exposure does not mean that you will become ill. McMaster Security Services will make sure you receive specific information about your symptoms and effective treatment
  • If you work in an area or position where packages are received and opened routinely, have a specific plan for identifying and responding to a suspicious package, and exercise that plan on a routine basis
  • If possible, create a list of persons who were in the room or area when the suspicious letter or package was recognized. Provide a list of persons who may have handled the package or letter

Suspicious/hazardous mail may contain any one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Fictitious return address
  • Excessive weight
  • Badly typed or written
  • Lopsided or uneven
  • No return address
  • Biological substances
  • Addressed to title only
  • Leaking unidentified liquid
  • Sharp items: needles, nails, razors
  • Melts or alters surfaces
  • Crystallization of wrapping
  • Unidentified powder, granular, or sand-like substance on or leaking from the package
  • Offensive material (includes death threats and objectionable matter)
  • Excessive postage
  • Rigid or bulky
  • Protruding wires
  • Special endorsements
  • Restrictive markings
  • Chemical substances
  • Oily stains/discoloration
  • Mailed from a foreign country
  • Tickling or other unusual sounds
  • Excessive wrapping tape or string