HSE purpose

HSE Services provides guidance and direction to the SAIT community to achieve a safe working and learning environment.

HSE Services is committed to:

  • helping academic schools, departments and other community members achieve and maintain compliance with all applicable occupational health, safety and environmental legislation
  • assisting the SAIT community in preventing work-related injuries and illnesses
  • providing guidance, direction, and training to recognize and eliminate or control hazards
  • utilizing industry best practices, industry-standard investigative and inspection techniques, and sound occupational hygiene principles
  • investigating all occupational health, safety, environmental and occupational hygiene concerns brought to the department's attention
  • recommending corrective action
  • supporting and promoting safe, secure, and environmentally sound working and learning environments
  • and improving safety at SAIT.

Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) Services is a branch of the Facilities Management department. SAIT staff and instructors are encouraged to refer to SAITNOW for detailed HSE information.

Water quality on campus

Update: March 26, 2024

Following previous sampling results, further investigation and mitigation measures were completed to address 10 impacted point-of-use locations with lead levels above Health Canada guidelines:

For eight of these, the following measures were taken:

Previous samples at three office kitchenette sinks in Senator Burns building and one in TF Wing, Thomas Riley, had been drawn directly from the faucet, as opposed to from the adjacent filtered water dispensers (normal points-of-use). These filtered dispensers were sampled on March 12, with results within acceptable Health Canada guidelines. As a result, these points-of-use were reopened, and staff in these locations have been advised to use the filtered water dispensers for drinking water and for the preparation of food and hot drinks.

Water from one of the commercial sinks within the Senator Burns building basement was re-tested with its hot water isolated and found to be within Health Canada guidelines. The commercial sink was returned to operation with adjustments made to the plumbing. Two other sinks in this location were taken out of service as they are not required for operational use.

One office kitchenette sink on the second floor, Buck Crump building, Mayland Heights campus was removed from service.

Mitigation measures

Mitigation measures are underway for the remaining two point-of-use locations impacted by lead levels above Health Canada guidelines in the following locations:

  • one water bottle-filling station – basement, NR wing, Senator Burns building
  • one conference room kitchenette sink – twelfth floor, Senator Burns building.

Now temporarily shut off, these locations will be re-tested once corrective measures are in place, and updates will be provided at that time.

Prior updates

Further testing following the City of Calgary’s intensive water testing protocols has revealed elevated inorganic substances in 10 point-of-use locations out of the 106 locations tested.

Eight of these points of use locations are in the Senator Burns building, one in Thomas Riley and one at the Mayland Heights campus. Testing was completed on all drinking fountains, water bottle filling stations, office kitchen sinks and commercial kitchens in legacy buildings on campus.

Impacted points of use reporting elevated inorganic substances are:

  • three office kitchenette sinks – Senator Burns building
  • one conference room kitchenette sink – twelfth floor, Senator Burns building
  • three commercial sinks – basement, Senator Burns building
  • one water bottle filling station – basement, NR wing, Senator Burns building
  • one office kitchenette sink – first floor, TF Wing, Thomas Riley building
  • one office kitchenette sink – second floor, Buck Crump building, Mayland Heights campus.

Protective measures and corrective actions:

  • signage was placed in the six affected offices and conference kitchenettes to direct users to alternate locations
  • direct communication was sent directly to impacted users
  • due to three affected points-of-use in commercial kitchens in the NN basement wing of the Senator Burns Building, Commercial Services has made temporary, alternative arrangements for impacted users
  • the impacted drinking fountain was taken out of use, and signage was posted.

Planned corrective actions:

  • further testing was completed on Tuesday, March 12, to confirm the efficacy of local filtration systems and assess the impact of the plumbing configurations in the basement of the Senator Burns building
  • service for filtration systems at impacted points of use is scheduled for Wednesday, March 13
  • further long-term improvements to filtration system servicing and maintenance are planned
  • a project is underway to equip each drinking water point of use in our legacy buildings with signage, including a QR code directing users to a landing page with that point of use’s latest water quality testing results and confirmation of whether a filtration system is in place, as well as its last date of service.

Ninety-six of the tested drinking points of use revealed normal results, and while elevated levels of inorganic substances aren’t unexpected in older buildings throughout the city, SAIT understands the concern that any drinking points of use test results show any levels of elevation.

We will keep the community updated as information becomes available. Please refer to signage and use open drinking fountains and water bottle-filling stations for drinking water.

In fall 2023, SAIT engaged in water quality testing using the City of Calgary’s intensive water testing protocols following water discolouration in Thomas Riley building.

Initial water quality testing results in a handful of washrooms in our legacy buildings showed levels of inorganic substances above recommended guidelines. Since then, SAIT has followed up with additional testing – including samples from a number drinking water points-of-use (drinking fountains, water bottle-filling stations and kitchen/kitchenettes in offices throughout main campus).

Results showed drinking water points-of-use to be safe for drinking. The use of washroom sinks is intended for hand hygiene purposes only.

SAIT’s campus is home to legacy buildings, with Heritage Hall completed in 1922. In the 1950s, campus grew with the addition of the Thomas Riley and John Ware buildings, followed by E.H. Crandell and Senator Burns buildings. As with any older infrastructure in our city, the structures were built to the code of the time, which included materials no longer in wide use for construction.

Initial water quality testing results in these legacy buildings showed some anomalies in a handful of bathrooms in Senator Burns, Thomas Riley and E.H. Crandell with levels of some inorganic substances above recommended guidelines. Out of an abundance of caution, SAIT placed signs in the bathrooms of these buildings indicating bathroom faucets should be used for handwashing only.

As a follow-up to the initial testing undertaken, SAIT is collaborating with experts from the City of Calgary’s Water Quality and Regulatory Assurance group in order to ensure proper representative sampling is undertaken.  With the City’s advice and guidance, it has been determined there are six locations that require further testing. These six locations will be resampled using the City’s intensive water testing protocols to confirm if any issues exist and remedy these if required.

E.H. Crandell

  • West side men’s washroom sinks

Senator Burns

  • Second-floor men’s washroom sinks
  • Third-floor men’s washroom sinks
  • Fourth-floor men’s washroom sinks
  • Ninth-floor men’s washroom sinks

Thomas Riley

  • TT women’s washroom sinks

We encourage the continued use of newly installed water bottle-filling stations in all buildings across campus for your drinking water needs. The use of bathroom sinks is intended for hand hygiene purposes only.

We continue to test water quality at typical use areas across campus, and are committed to providing confidence to members of our SAIT community about the quality and safety of our water.

Frequently asked questions about water testing

Yes, the water from designated drinking water points-of-use such as water fountains, bottle-filling stations and staff kitchens is safe to drink.

Recent comprehensive water quality testing was completed for all in locations throughout SAIT's older buildings identified as drinking water points-of-use. Of the 110 locations tested, ten (10) had lead levels exceeding Health Canada guidelines.

  • four of these locations are staff kitchenettes equipped with water filtration systems, and after a brief closure, were reopened when testing of the filtered water revealed lead levels within Health Canada guidelines
  • one commercial kitchen was closed temporarily and returned to service with protective measures to ensure lead levels stay within Health Canada guidelines
  • One bottle-filling station was closed, and it may be removed since it cannot be retrofitted with a filtration system; however an alternate station is located nearby on the same floor
  • the remaining four locations were not in use at the time of the testing and will be closed until appropriate testing corrective actions can be applied.

Please note that for individuals who have consumed water from these locations, the health risk is deemed low. Testing results indicated that only the first draw of water from these locations (i.e. after sitting unused overnight) contained elevated lead levels. Samples taken from the same sinks after letting the water run for five minutes showed lead levels within Health Canada's guidelines.

SAIT’s campus is home to legacy buildings, and as with any older infrastructure in our city, the structures were built to the code of the time, which included materials no longer in use today.

Up until 1986, fittings for faucets were often were made of brass containing lead and possibly installed with lead-containing solder. As many faucets in our legacy buildings are original, it is possible that low levels of inorganic material leach into water that sits in pipes for extended periods of time. In cases where lead did test above Health Canada guidelines, it is likely the water from the first draw samples sat near the lead-soldered fittings of the sinks overnight, resulting in low levels of lead leaching into the water.

SAIT's water is supplied by the City of Calgary. The City maintains safe drinking water per the Government of Canada's guidelines.

Clean and safe drinking water often contains small amounts of organic and inorganic substances - this is an expected part of the water collection and treatment process.

I've noticed that signage advising people to use washroom sinks only for hand washing is in some washrooms, but not in others. Why is this signage not posted in all the washrooms on campus?

The washroom signage is limited to SAIT legacy buildings: Heritage Hall, Senator Burns, Thomas Riley, E.H. Crandell and Buck Crump buildings.

As noted above, washroom faucets in some of our legacy buildings are original, and small levels of inorganic material, such as lead, may leach into water that sits for an extended period of time.

Yes. Dishwashing, however, should be limited to kitchen/kitchenette sinks. While the water coming from other sink types (shops, labs, washrooms, etc.) is safe for dishwashing, we cannot ensure that the conditions within the sinks themselves are sanitary.

No. The pipes in our legacy buildings do not cause elevated lead levels, as they are made from copper. Copper pipes are commonly used today in home plumbing and are of acceptable material for use under the National Plumbing Code of Canada. Copper is a safe material for water supply to our drinking fountains, water bottle-filling stations and office kitchen/kitchenettes.

Boiling water will not lower levels of inorganic substances. Please use the drinking fountains, water bottle-filling stations or kitchen/kitchenette sinks for all drinking water needs.

SAIT is committed to continuing with regular water quality testing to ensure the safety of our water on campus. If required, on a case-by-case basis, testing will be completed in response to water quality issues as they arise and are noted and reported. All reported concerns will be investigated.

Data obtained from water quality testing will be used to implement corrective actions as needed. Any identified changes in water quality will be communicated to the SAIT community, with clarity and transparency as priorities.

Health, Safety and Environmental Management System (HSEMS)

SAIT has a comprehensive Health Safety and Environmental Management System. The HSEMS:

  • provides the SAIT community with the standards, information, and procedural guidelines needed to create safety procedures specific to work and learning environments at SAIT
  • outlines codes of practice that provide specific instruction on safe work practices as required by Alberta Occupational Health and Safety legislation
  • and meets or exceeds the requirements of federal and provincial health, safety and environment legislation.

Employer responsibilities

According to the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act:

  • students are considered "workers"
  • the province of Alberta is considered the "employer" of SAIT students
  • SAIT has a duty of care to its students
  • SAIT, as an employer, shall ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of its workers and of others, including students, who may be affected by the work
  • as an employer, SAIT shall ensure that its workers and others at SAIT, including students, know their responsibilities under the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Act, Regulation, and Code.

The Board of Governors of SAIT protects the health and safety of all employees, students, contractors, and visitors that make up our community.

Senior executives and management are responsible for providing resources necessary to fulfill legislative responsibilities and HSEMS policies and practices.

All SAIT employees are responsible to comply with the requirements of the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Act, Regulation and Code and with SAIT HSE policies and procedures as outlined in the HSEMS.

SAIT Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) Committees are responsible to:

  • assist management, workers, students and contractors in completing incident investigations, workplace inspections and hazard assessments
  • review any changes in programs and procedures that may have an impact on the health and safety of employees or on the environment.

Instructors are considered supervisors under the Alberta OHS legislation because of their supervisory role over students. Instructors are responsible for the following:

  • enforce safety rules
  • encourage and reinforce safe behaviour
  • instruct students on safe processes/practices/procedures regarding their daily assignments
  • ensure that students perform all appropriate duties regarding safe processes, practices, procedures, policies, etc.
  • ensure that students are trained in the use, care and limitations of personal protective equipment (e.g., earplugs, safety glasses, respirators, etc.)
  • ensure that students use PPE when required
  • and ensure the proper use and maintenance of equipment and tools.

Student responsibilities

Students are considered workers under Alberta OHS legislation. Alberta Occupational Health and Safety legislation requires workers (including students):

  • to work safely
  • to co-operate with their employers, managers or instructors by following health and safety rules for the tasks at hand
  • to take reasonable care to protect the health and safety of themselves and other workers.

Every worker in Alberta has three rights:

  1. the right to know their hazards
  2. the right to participate in health and safety activities
  3. the right to refuse unsafe work.

Under Section 35(1) of the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Act, employees/students have the right and obligation to refuse unsafe work where an imminent danger exists to the health and safety of themselves or other workers present at the worksite. The employee/student must notify his/her supervisor/instructor as soon as practicable regarding the equipment, situation, condition or circumstance.

Student safety orientation and training

Student safety orientation and training are provided by your program.

Contact us

Health Safety and Environmental Services

QA200, Eugene Coste Building, SAIT Main Campus

403.284.8606 hse.services@sait.ca