Biosafety is the principles, practices, procedures, and containment measures designed to prevent the accidental exposure to or release of biological agents and toxins.
The primary goal of biosafety is to protect personnel and the environment from exposures to biohazardous agents.
Personnel includes you, your labmates, and the facilities staff who maintain your clean working environment.
It's a simple 3-step process:
Conducting a research risk assessment should be performed periodically throughout the year and before commencement of all new research procedures.
1. Identify the hazard
2. Assess potential risk to personnel and/or environment:
3. Determine appropriate containment
Use of a Biological Safety Cabinet (BSC)
A biological safety cabinet is the primary means by which to reduce the exposure to potentially infectious agents, especially when aerosols may be generated procedurally. Aerosols are generated during many common laboratory procedures, including pipetting, vortexing, centrifugation, sonication, etc.
When working within a BSC, it is important to remember the following:
Use of a Centrifuge for Biological Samples
Centrifugation within a biological research setting can potentially pose an exposure hazard due to the possibility for aerosolization of biological material.
It is essential that sealed rotors or safety cups with airtight seals be used when centrifuging BSL-2 material.
Centrifuge rotors and buckets should be loaded and unloaded within a BSC and decontaminated before and removal from the BSC.
After centrifuge use the interior of the centrifuge should be decontaminated with an appropriate disinfectant for the biological used.
Proper housekeeping of a research laboratory can greatly reduce the possibility of exposure and increase research integrity at the same time.
Remember the follow key items in regards to laboratory housekeeping:
1. Non-research personnel also enter your laboratory (custodians, maintenance personnel, visiting scientists). It is essential to keep pathways clear of debris as to not inhibit their ability to perform their daily tasks and prevent egress in the event of an emergency.
2. Keeping lab benches clear of clutter reduces the possibility of spills, especially near the edge of the bench where passersby could knock an item off of the bench and create and exposure.
3. Spills within the lab should be cleaned IMMEDIATLEY by LAB PERSONNEL. Custodians should not attend to laboratory spills and potentially place themselves at risk of exposure. Research staff are responsible for cleaning of all spills of laboratory materials within the lab.
4. Life safety systems (eyewash, safety shower, fire extinguishers) should be kept clear of clutter and should have a clear path to and from at all times.More information about biological research specific safety measures.
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.
To register your work with the IBC, please update your BioRAFT page.
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.
The following PPE items should be utilized/available at all times within all Dartmouth biological research laboratories:
Click here to review Dartmouth's Personal Protective Equipment Policy.
Brenda L. Petrella, Ph.D.
Biological Safety Officer, Environmental Health & Safety
Last Updated: 8/14/14