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Information for Biological Researchers

 biohazard crab

 BSL-2 Practices and Procedures



Dartmouth’s Biological Safety Program promotes a safe research environment by focusing its efforts in the three following areas:

biosafety program flow

  • Biological Research Training has been developed by Dartmouth EH&S to comply with OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogen Standard (29 CFR 1910.1030) and is specific for the biological research being conducted at Dartmouth College. This training is required for all biological researchers regardless of prior experience and is an essential piece of ensuring a safe work environment for all research staff.

The Primary Investigator is responsible for the safety and training of everyone working in their lab. The following is taken directly from the BMBL:

The laboratory supervisor must ensure that laboratory personnel receive appropriate training regarding their duties, the necessary precautions to prevent exposures, and exposure evaluation procedures.

All biological safety training (with the exception of biological shipping training) is conducted online using BioRAFT. For a list of available training courses, CLICK HERE. To check the status of your own training, CLICK HERE.

  • Laboratory Inspections are a vital part of any safety program as it ensures that all essential safety measures and regulations are followed within the research environment, promoting laboratory safety for all involved. Aspects of laboratory inspections are dependent upon the nature of research in the given area and can include any of the following:

    • Appropriate personal protective equipment
    • Proper use of laboratory equipment (biological safety cabinets, centrifuge, etc)
    • Proper labeling of equipment for the storing/manipulation of biological materials
    • Proper procedures for decontamination of biological waste (solid, liquid, sharps)
    • Presence of life safety devices (eyewash, safety shower, antimicrobial soap, etc)

Assessing Risk

Supervisors and personnel should continually identify research hazards and assess exposure risks, especially when agents, personnel, experimentation, location and/or instrumentation change according to protocol. To do so will minimize exposure and biological relevance of exposures.

More information about minimizing risks of research exposures.

Working With Human Blood and Tissue

Working with human blood and tissue within a research lab presents hidden dangers of infection due to the possibility of latent pathogens including HBV, HIV, HCV, HTLV, EBV, HPV, CVM, and prions.  Due to this hidden danger, OSHA has developed the Bloodborne Pathogen Standard and should be applied to all laboratory research involving blood and bodily fluids, tissues, and cell lines.  The Dartmouth College BSL-2 practices and procedures training complies with all aspects of the OSHA bloodborne pathogen standard.

More information concerning working with human blood and tissue safety.

Working With Infectious Agents

In order to effectively work with infectious material within the laboratory, certain factors regarding the pathogen must be considered.  These factors include the mode of transmission, host range, zoonotic potential, methods of treatment, prophylactic measures, and recommended containment measures.  

More information regarding working with infectious agents safely.

What to do in the event of an exposure

The biological safety program is designed to minimize the possibility of researcher exposure to biological hazards.  This is carried out by identification of the hazards, communicating the associated risks to the researchers via required training, prophylactic measures through available vaccinations (hepatitis B vaccination), and the ongoing personal relationship between EH&S and the research staff.  

In the event of a biological exposure all researchers are required to take certain steps to minimize effects and ensure the safety of those around you.  These steps include first aid, notification, and follow-up with medical staff.

More information concerning what to do in the event of a biological exposure.

Working with rDNA

All recombinant DNA research requires prior approval by the IBC. The NIH Guidelines For Research Involving Recombinant Or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules outlines the specific oversight aspects for rDNA research and any deviations from these guidelines is a reportable violation. 

More information about rDNA research oversight and safety.

To register your work with the IBC, please update your BioRAFT page.

More information about the Dartmouth IBC.

Working Safely Within a Biological Lab

The first step in ensuring your safety and those around you is to understand the proper safety measures that you can take to minimize personal exposure.  Many of these safety measures incorporate the proper utilization of safety equipment in the lab.  Understanding of how this equipment can be used effectively to prevent exposure is essential your own personal safety, as well as research integrity.

More information about biological research specific safety measures.

Appropriate Personal Protective Equipment

The use of personal protective equipment (PPE) is an essential part of any laboratory safety program and varies from lab to lab depending upon the hazards and risks associated with the research.

More information on specific use of PPE within a biological research setting. 

The following PPE items should be utilized/available at all times within all Dartmouth biological research laboratories:

  • Laboratory coat

  • Closed toe shoes

  • Clothes that cover the entire leg

  • Hand protection (gloves of Nitrile or N-Dex)

  • Eye protection (splash goggles)

  • Mucous membrane protection (surgical mask, splash shield)

Click here to review Dartmouth's Personal Protective Equipment Policy.

Biological Shipping

The shipping of biological materials is highly regulated by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA).  Failure to obey all regulations and guidelines can result in heavy fines for the shipper of the material.  The department of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) is here to help with your shipping questions.

Click here for more information regarding biological shipping.

Important Links

Other Resources and Links

The CDC/NIH recently updated their Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories. The 5th Ed. is now available online. Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) has become the code of practice for biological safety, the discipline addressing the safe handling and containment of infectious microorganisms and hazardous biological materials. The BMBL outlines the microbiological practices, safety equipment, and facility safeguards that protect laboratory workers, the environment, and the public from exposure to infectious microorganisms that are handled and stored in the laboratory and is the basis for Dartmouth's biological research safety policies and guidelines.

For specific questions or to learn more about our Biological Safety Program, please E-mail the Dartmouth College Biological Safety Officer.

Brenda L. Petrella, Ph.D.
Biological Safety Officer, Environmental Health & Safety

Last Updated: 4/29/14