August 29, 2014
In light of the recent lapses in biosafety practices involving federal laboratories, the National Security Council and Office of Science and Technology Policy sent a joint memo to all federal departments and agencies involved in life-sciences research urging them to take immediate and longer-term steps to address the underlying causes of the incidents and strengthening overall biosafety and biosecurity at federal facilities. Click here for the NSC/OSTP memo.
In response, Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the NIH, released a statement on August 27, 2014 designating September as National Biosafety Stewardship Month.
In the month of September, NIH laboratories will, and grantee institutions and/or contractors are encouraged to, do the following:
What do you need to do?
1. It's time to clean shop and create/update an inventory - do you know what's in your lab's freezers?
Dartmouth researchers are responsible for what is in their laboratories. To honor the National Biosafety Stewardship Month, please discuss this topic with your lab members this month and update your lab's inventories of potentially infectious agents, toxins, and/or poisons. It not only keeps you aware of the agents for which you are ultimately responsible, but it will also help create space in your freezers by getting rid of those tubes you no longer need. Freezer clean-outs are good laboratory practice, not just because the NIH is asking us to do this, but because they help keep your freezers running well and efficiently, thereby decreasing the risk of freezer meltdown and sample loss.
2. As part of your inventory process, please be sure to update your lab's Live Usage Summary in BioRAFT. The Institutional Biosafety Committee uses this information to do a risk assessment and to give IBC approvals for the biological research you do. The IBC also uses this information as an institutional inventory of what is on campus in the event of reporting to federal officials. This information is also used in cases of laboratory accidents. Therefore, it is critically important that your BioRAFT Live Usage Summary is an accurate display of what is in your lab. Please contact the Biological Safety Officer if you need help with this process.
More detailed info about the White House and NIH announcements can be found here:
For more information on responding to and reporting emergencies or any accidents or incidents, please review the Dartmouth College Emergency Response and Biohazard Exposure Control Plan.
Biosafety audits are a vital part of any safety program as it ensures that all essential safety measures and regulations are followed within the research environment. They are designed to help labs be "inspection ready" for any unannounced federal inspections. Aspects of laboratory audits are dependent upon the nature of research in the given area and may include any of the following:
Please review the Dartmouth Biological Laboratory Audit Checklist to best prepare for your lab's biosafety audit. Comprehensive biological lab audits will be performed every 3 years (at a minimum) in conjunction with IBC re-review of research. Lab audits may be conducted more frequently if there is a significant change in research (new biohazardous agents or manipulations), and/or if incidents are found during an audit. Please contact the Biological Safety Officer if you would like to schedule a lab biosafety audit.
For specific questions or to learn more about our Biological Safety Program, please email:
Biological Safety Officer
Environmental Health & Safety
Last Updated: 12/19/14