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Biological Research Safety

Biological Research Safety

To protect people and the environment from release of potentially harmful agents good biological safety procedures must be practiced. Before any biological research involving involves recombinant DNA molecules, pathogenic microorganisms and other infectious agents and toxins, the following elements should be considered:

1. Risk assessment, hazard identification and risk minimization

The risk assessment helps determine which biohazard containment and laboratory practices are appropriate. See CDC BMBL for more information, including Risk Groups and Biological Safety Levels needed for your research.

Each Principal Investigator (PI) or student should contact the Office of Research Integrity and Ehs for assistance in performing a risk assessment of his or her research to identify potential hazards.

2. Laboratory Inspection

EHS recommended PI’s perform frequent inspection of their laboratories. EHS and IBC performs annual biosafety inspections to ensure lab practices and facilities comply with relevant regulations as well as to provide guidance on biosafety issues.

This also helps to facilitate communication between researchers, IBC and EHS. Refer to our inspection checklists to help prepare for your biosafety lab visit. Additional information can be found on the IBC website under Forms.

3. Decontamination

To eliminate microbial contamination or reduces it to a safe level, decontamination is required for potentially infectious agents or materials.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains a list of registered antimicrobial products that are effective against certain organisms. If you need help selecting an appropriate disinfectant, you can contact the Occupational Safety Manager.

4. Biohazardous Spills

  • If a spill of biohazardous material or recombinant DNA occurs, follow the spill clean-up instructions. Principal Investigators, Researchers and students working with biological materials should ensure their laboratories are equipped with a biohazardous spill kit. If any person is exposed during the spill, follow the instructions on spill clean-up.

5. Biohazard Warning Labels and Signs

  • Biohazard labels
    Affix a biohazard warning label to any storage, transport, or waste container used for biohazards.The biohazard warning sign should be completed and affixed to laboratory doors. This sign communicates the agents in use, and specifies entry and exit requirements. It is the responsibility of each PI or lab coordinator to properly identify and restrict access to the laboratory and to notify emergency and support personnel of any biological hazards in the laboratory.
  • Caution Sign
    Use the hazard caution sign for your laboratory area.

The Occupational Safety Manager can assist with training and help with any biosafety questions.

Last updated: 8/9/2021