Yes, it is certainly ethical, so long as everyone knows it is there. It doesn't even necessarily show lack of trust in the regular lab denizens. An alternative, of course, would be to pay someone, a guard, to be always present.
I suppose it is possible that the leader's motives go beyond protecting the equipment, of course, but even that isn't problematic if a record of lab activities might be needed to assure against possible bad behavior, such as, for example harassment. In some situations the lab work may be so sensitive that a record needs to be kept.
As noted in comments on this page, the legality may be in question. But that varies from place to place.
To make it even clearer, if the camera is put in place without the knowledge of the participants it would be unethical. If the camera were put into a public area then it would also be unethical in the absence of come compelling reason that would mitigate it.
If the camera were put in place to monitor the people and their performance, rather than protect equipment, the situation becomes more difficult to asses. But it would probably be unwise to do it, whether ethical or not, because of the strong negative reaction that it would cause and which is evidenced in the comments here.
The ethical judgment I made is, therefore, very limited to a particular set of conditions as expressed in the question asked.