McMaster Chemical Inventory System (HECHMET)

McMaster University is committed to safety and health of it's employees, students and the environment. Proper management of  hazardous materials is crucial to ensuring safe working and learning environments. McMaster’s Environmental & Occupational Health Support Services (EOHSS) office is responsible for ensuring regulatory compliance of the use, management and security of hazardous materials on campus.

To help manage these materials and reduce risk, McMaster has joined a growing number of Canadian universities by participating in the HECHMET project. As part of this project, McMaster has implemented an online chemical inventory system, Vertere, as a means to monitor the purchase of all chemicals, monitor distribution of and access to these substances, ensure appropriate disposal, and limit the storage of unnecessary hazardous materials.

What is HECHMET?

HECHMET (Higher Education Cooperative for Hazardous Materials and Equipment Tracking) is a cooperative of institutions with similar goals for tracking hazardous materials. McMaster joins 13 other universities using this system, including:

University of Ottawa – Concordia University – Queen’s University – Ryerson University – University of Toronto - York University – Carleton University - Western University

HECHMET was a Technology Demonstration Project funded by the Department of National Defence’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological-Nuclear, and Explosives Research and Technology Initiative (CRTI). CRTI is a federal program developed to improve the science and technology capabilities of the nation to meet changing security needs. It seeks to support the development and adaptation of software for maintaining a comprehensive database of chemicals, standardize the management of chemical inventories across institutions, and improve the tracking of chemicals in Canada.

Vertere Chemical Inventory Manager

HECHMET is underpinned by the Vertére Inventory Manager (VIM) software, a modular, web-based enterprise application used to track chemicals and other materials within the university working environment. Hazardous chemicals are tagged with a unique barcode label that cross-references to:

  • Storage location
  • Principal Investigator (PI) responsible for the item
  • Chemical properties and information
  • SDS-related information
  • Other information (e.g., information is secured using Access Levels)

The chemical inventory system allows McMaster to effectively:

  • Monitor the purchase of all Hazardous Materials;
  • Manage the distribution and access to these substances;
  • Monitor the locations and types of Hazardous Materials present;
  • Ensure appropriate disposal;
  • Ensure compliance with regulatory requirements; and
  • Encourage sharing among colleagues thereby reducing costs.

Adding/Receiving Chemicals

All new chemicals will be shipped directly to Central Campus Receiving, regardless of department. There they will be barcoded and entered into McMaster’s Chemical Inventory. When a chemical is purchased or picked-up from Stores, staff will transfer the chemical to the appropriate lab and primary investigator (i.e. researcher).

When purchasing chemicals, please ensure your address reads as follows:

Jane Doe
c/o General Receiving West Campus
McMaster University
1280 Main St. W., ABB 573
Hamilton, ON L8S 4M1
Attn: Chemicals 

It is VERY important that you put both locations to which the chemicals will be going (e.g. General Receiving & the lab location ABB 573 above) - all lab locations have been assigned to PI's - this will assist the receiver in assigning a chemical to the appropriate lab location

This last line is necessary for "chemical deliveries" so all others (Grand & Toy for example) go to the departments as usual.

If you receive a chemical that does not have a barcode on it, please contact EOHSS and we will barcode and enter it into the system.  We will be continuously to work with the delivery people to ensure this procedure is followed, so chemicals get inventoried and delivered correctly.

What is included in the inventory?

  • Flammable/Combustible liquids
  • Flammable Solids
  • Oxidizers
  • Organic peroxides
  • Toxins/Poisons (e.g. biological toxins, dyes, adhesives)
  • Corrosives
  • Hazardous Formulations
  • All controlled products and substances

What is NOT included?

  • Dilutions and solutions prepared on-site
  • Non-hazardous Buffers
  • Tissue culture supplies
  • Biological growth media (e.g. agar)
  • Enzyme preparations
  • Products available for retail purchase (e.g. household cleaners, paint thinner)
  • Hazardous chemicals under 1 g or 1 ml in weight or volume
  • Radioactive Materials
  • Biohazardous Materials
  • Compressed gases
  • Non-hazardous substances (e.g. glucose, sodium bicarbonate)

Using the Inventory

While the chemical inventory offers various advantages to the entire McMaster community, users will also find it to be a valuable tool.  Examples include:

  • Searching by chemical name, location, room
  • Retrieving the SDS for chemicals
  • Exporting or printing search results for future reference

All Principal Investigators and laboratories have a unique username and password. Contact Leah Allan (system administrator) for username and password information. 

Chemical Disposal

Removing a product from the inventory is simple. Follow the steps below.

  1. Rinse the empty container as you normally would for disposal but set aside with hazardous waste for RPR to scan on Tuesday waste day.
  2. Once scanned by RPR, discard of empty bottle as per established procedures or reuse for hazardous waste if that is your usual practise.
OR
  1. Remove the barcode from the empty/waste container and affix it to the Barcode Disposal Sheet and mail to EOHSS, GH 304


For more information, please contact Leah Allan, Lab Safety Specialist at or at extension 26309.