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Bio Safety

Microbiological laboratories and procedures are designed to handle four different levels of etiologic agents. Materials which pose the least risk are designated Biosafety Level 1 and those posing the greatest risk, Biosafety Level 4. A combination of laboratory practices, techniques, safety equipment, and design features characterize each level. Only Biosafety Level 1 & 2 agents are currently used at Radford University.

Any Primary Investigator performing work at Biosafety Level 2 or higher is required to review and amended the Radford University Biosafety Manual (PDF) for their laboratory and or specific agent.

1.0  Biosafety Level 1

At level 1, practices, safety equipment, and facilities are appropriate for work that is performed with strains of viable microorganisms not known to cause disease in healthy adult humans.

Standard Microbiological Practices

  1. Control access to the laboratory when experiments are in progress.
  2. Decontaminate work surfaces once each day after work that could possibly cause contamination, and after any spill of viable material.
  3. Decontaminate all contaminated liquid or solid wastes before disposal.
  4. Always use mechanical pipetting devices; mouth pipetting is prohibited.
  5. Do not eat, drink, smoke, or apply cosmetics in the work area. Food can only be stored in cabinets or refrigerators specifically designated for that purpose and these must be located outside the work area.
  6. Wash hands after handling viable materials and before leaving the laboratory.
  7. Perform all procedures to minimize the creation of aerosols.
  8. Wear laboratory coats, gowns, or uniforms over street clothes.

Special Practices

  1. Place contaminated materials that will be decontaminated offsite in a durable, leakproof container, which is closed before being removed from the laboratory.
  2. Do not place biological waste materials that will decay quickly into the ordinary trash; dispose of in freezer units.
  3. An effective insect and rodent control program must be in place.

Containment Equipment

  1. No special containment equipment is usually required for the work practices and agents assigned to Biosafety Level 1.

Laboratory Facilities

  1. Ensure that the laboratory is designed so that it is easily cleaned. Seamless or poured floor coverings are recommended. Washable paint is recommended for the walls. Junctures with the wall, floor, ceiling, and equipment should be rounded, with no corner seams. Laboratory furniture should incorporated as few sharp seams and cracks as possible.
  2. Spaces between benches, cabinets and equipment should be easily accessible for cleaning.
  3. Bench tops must be impervious to water and resistant to acids, alkalis, organic solvents, and moderate heat.
  4. Each laboratory should contain a sink for hand washing.
  5. Windows that can be opened must be equipped with fly screens.

2.0  Biosafety Level 2

This class of laboratory is suitable for work involving agents of moderate potential hazard to personnel and the public. In addition to the characteristics of a Biosafety Level 1 facility, (a) laboratory personnel have specific training in handling pathogenic agents and are directed by competent scientists, (b) access to the laboratory is limited whenever work is being conducted, and (c) when some procedures are conducted in which infectious aerosols are created, they will be performed in biological safety cabinets or other physical containment equipment.

Standard Microbiological Practices

  1. Restrict access to the laboratory, at the discretion of the laboratory director, when experiments are in process.
  2. Decontaminated work surfaces once each day and after any spill of viable material.
  3. Decontaminate all contaminated liquid or solid wastes before disposal.
  4. Always use mechanical pipetting devices; mouth pipetting is prohibited.
  5. Eating, drinking, smoking and applying cosmetics are not permitted in the work area. Food can only be stored in cabinets or refrigerators specifically designated for that purpose. These must be located outside the work area.
  6. Wash hands with a suitable disinfectant after handling viable materials and before leaving the laboratory.
  7. Perform all procedures in a way that minimizes the creation of aerosols.

Special Practices

  1. Place all contaminated materials that will be decontaminated at a site away from the laboratory in a durable, leakproof container, which is closed before being removed from the laboratory.
  2. Limit access to the laboratory for persons who are at increased risk of acquiring infection, or for whom infection might be unusually hazardous. The Laboratory Director has the final responsibility for determining who may enter or work in the laboratory.
  3. Establish written policies and procedures whereby only persons who have been advised of the hazards and meet any specific entry requirements, e.g., special training or immunization, may enter the facility.
  4. Post special provisions for entry, e.g., vaccination, a hazard warning sign incorporating the universal biohazard symbol on the door to the laboratory work area when the infectious agents is used in the laboratory . The warning sign identifies the infectious agent, lists the name of the Laboratory Director, laboratory supervisor and Department Head, and identifies the special requirements for entering the laboratory.
  5. Ensure that an effective insect and rodent control program is in effect.
  6. Wear laboratory coats, gowns, smocks or uniforms while in the laboratory. Before leaving the laboratory remove these garments and leave them in the laboratory. A clean coat may be worn over the potentially contaminated garments, but the outer garment must be considered contaminated upon removal.
  7. Do not permit animals not involved in the research in the laboratory.
  8. Use special care to avoid skin contamination with infectious materials. Wear gloves when handling infected animals and when skin contact with infectious materials is unavoidable.
  9. Contaminate all wastes from laboratories and animal rooms before disposal.
  10. Use hypodermic needles and syringes only for parenteral injection and aspiration of fluids from laboratory animals and diaphragm bottles. Use only needle-locking syringes or disposable syringe-needle units for the injection or aspiration of infectious fluids. Extreme caution should be used when handling needles and syringes to avoid autoinoculation and the generation of aerosols during use and disposal. Do not bend, cut, or replace needles in the sheath or guard or removed them the syringe following use. Place the needle and syringe promptly in a puncture-proof container and decontaminated, preferably by autoclaving, before discard or reuse.
  11. Report spills and accidents that result in overt exposures to infectious agents immediately to the Laboratory Director. Medical evaluation, surveillance, and treatment will be provided as needed at no cost to the employee. Maintain written records of the incident, including a determination of the causes, any personnel exposed, and any actions that were taken.
  12. Collect baseline serum samples for those individuals working with materials infectious to humans (including possibly infectious animals, animal tissues that have not been rendered safe, or derivative materials) and store. Additional serum samples will be taken at five-year intervals or after an overt exposure. Also, at a minimum, a medical history is required and it is recommended that the employees participate in a full Health Assurance Program.
  13. Prepare a biosafety procedures. Advise personnel of special hazards that are required to become familiar with experimental practices and procedures, including all safety precautions.

Containment Equipment

  1. Use Class I or II biological safety cabinets or other appropriate personal protective or physical containment devices in the following situations:
  • When procedures with a high potential for creating infectious aerosols are conducted. These include but are not limited to centrifuging, grinding, blending, vigorous shaking or mixing, sonic disruption, pipetting, opening pressurized containers, inoculating animals intranasally, and harvesting infected tissues from animals, eggs, or plants.
  • When high concentrations or large volumes of infectious agents are used. Such materials may be centrifuged in the open laboratory if sealed heads or centrifuge safety cups are used and if they are opened only in a biological safety cabinet.

Laboratory Facilities

  1. Ensure that the laboratory is designed so that it is easily cleaned. Seamless or poured floor coverings are recommended. Epoxy paint is recommended for the walls. Junctures with the wall, floor, ceiling, and equipment should be rounded, with no corner seams. Laboratory furniture should incorporate as few sharp seams and cracks as possible. Penetrations in the floor should be sealed or capable of being sealed to aid decontamination.
  2. Bench tops must be impervious to water and resistant to acids, alkalis, organic solvents, and moderate heat.
  3. Spaces between benches, cabinets, and equipment must be accessible for cleaning.
  4. Each laboratory contains a sink for hand washing.
  5. Equip windows that can be opened with fly screens.
  6. An autoclave should be available for decontaminating infectious wastes.