Laboratory Biosafety Guidelines

Excerpts from pages 19-23, Laboratory Biosafety Guidelines, 3rd edition, 2004. Published by the authority of the Minister of Health Population and Public Health Branch, Centre for Emergency Preparedness and Response, Government of Canada

(Immunology Department specific additions made September 2004).

3.1 Operational Practices for Laboratories

3.1.1 General Practices

The following general practices are required for all laboratories handling infectious substances.

  1. A documented, laboratory-specific procedural (safety) manual must be available for all staff, and its requirements followed; it must be reviewed and updated regularly. It should be posted in the culture area and signed by all workers.

  2. Personnel must receive training on the potential hazards associated with the work involved and the necessary precautions to prevent exposure to infectious agents and release of contained material; personnel must show evidence that they understood the training provided; training must be documented and signed by both the employee and supervisor; retraining programs should also be implemented.

  3. Eating, drinking, smoking, storing of either food, personal belongings, or utensils, applying cosmetics, and inserting or removing contact lenses are not permitted in any laboratory; the wearing of contact lenses is permitted only when other forms of corrective eyewear are not suitable; wearing jewelry is not recommended in the laboratory.

  4. Oral pipetting of any substance is prohibited in any laboratory.

  5. Long hair is to be tied back or restrained so that it cannot come into contact with hands, specimens, containers or equipment.

  6. Access to laboratory and support areas is limited to authorized personnel. **No children allowed.**

  7. Open wounds, cuts, scratches and grazes should be covered with waterproof dressings.

  8. Laboratories are to be kept clean and tidy. Storage of materials that are not pertinent to the work and cannot be easily decontaminated (e.g., journals, books, correspondence) should be minimized; paperwork and report writing should be kept separate from such biohazardous material work areas. No scientific equipment or materials in student carrel areas as these areas are also used for coffee breaks or lunches.

  9. Protective laboratory clothing, properly fastened, must be worn by all personnel, including visitors, trainees and others entering or working in the laboratory; suitable footwear with closed toes and heels must be worn in all laboratory areas. Lab coasts **must** be worn for all BSC1 work.

  10. Where there is a known or potential risk of exposure to splashes or flying objects, whether during routine operations or under unusual circumstances (e.g., accidents), eye and face protection must be used. Careful consideration should be given to the identification of procedures requiring eye and face protection, and selection should be appropriate to the hazard.

  11. Gloves (e.g., latex, vinyl, co-polymer) must be worn for all procedures that might involve direct skin contact with biohazardous material or infected animals; gloves are to be removed when leaving the laboratory and decontaminated with other laboratory wastes before disposal.

  12. Protective laboratory clothing must not be worn in nonlaboratory areas (student carrels, library); laboratory clothing must not be stored in contact with street clothing.

  13. If a known or suspected exposure occurs, contaminated clothing must be decontaminated before laundering (unless laundering facilities are within the containment laboratory and have been proven to be effective in decontamination.)

  14. The use of needles, syringes and other sharp objects should be strictly limited; needles and syringes should be used only for parenteral injection and aspiration of fluids from laboratory animals and diaphragm bottles; caution should be used when handling needles and syringes to avoid auto-inoculation and the generation of aerosols during use and disposal; where appropriate, procedures should be performed in a BSCa>; needles should not be bent, sheared, recapped or removed from the syringes; they should be promptly placed in a puncture-resistant sharps container (in accordance with Canadian Standards Association [CSA] standard Z316.6-95(R2000)) before disposal.

  15. Hands must be washed after gloves have been removed, before leaving the laboratory and at any time after handling materials known or suspected to be contaminated.

  16. Work surfaces must be cleaned and decontaminated with a suitable disinfectant (i.e., 70% ethanol) at the end of the day and after any spill of potentially biohazardous material; work surfaces that have become permeable (i.e., cracked, chipped, loose) to biohazardous material must be replaced or repaired. Do **not** use bleach in hoods except in the case of spills - highly corrosive.

  17. Contaminated materials and equipment leaving the laboratory for servicing or disposal must be appropriately decontaminated and labelled or tagged-out as such. It is your responsibility to autoclave and discard all potentially biohazardous waste.

  18. Efficacy monitoring of autoclaves used for decontamination with biological indicators must be done regularly (i.e., consider weekly, depending on the frequency of use of the autoclave), and the records of these results and cycle logs (i.e., time, temperature and pressure) must also be kept on file.

  19. All contaminated materials, solid or liquid, must be decontaminated before disposal or reuse; the material must be contained in such a way as to prevent the release of the contaminated contents during removal; centralized autoclaving facilities are to follow the applicable containment level 2 requirements.

  20. Disinfectants effective against the agents in use must be available at all times within the areas where the biohazardous material is handled or stored (i.e., 10% bleach, 1% SDS in water).

  21. Leak-proof containers are to be used for the transport of infectious materials within facilities (e.g., between laboratories in the same facility or clinic to lab).

  22. Spills, accidents or exposures to infectious materials and losses of containment must be reported immediately to the laboratory supervisor and Administrative Assistant, Karen Morrow; written records of such incidents must be maintained by the Department, and the results of incident investigations should be used for continuing education.

  23. An effective rodent and insect control program must be maintained.

3.1.2 Containment Level 2

In addition to the general practices required for all laboratories handling infectious substances, the following describe the minimum operation practices required for containment level 2.

  1. Good microbiological laboratory practices intended to avoid the release of infectious agents are to be employed.

  2. BSCs must be used for procedures that may produce infectious aerosols and that involve high concentrations or large volumes of biohazardous material. Laboratory Officer/Institutional Biosafety Committee, should perform a risk assessment to determine which procedures and what concentrations and volumes necessitate the use of a BSC.

  3. Appropriate signage indicating the nature of the hazard being used (e.g., biohazard sign, containment level) must be signed by all workers and posted outside each laboratory; if infectious agents used in the laboratory require special provisions for entry, the relevant information must be included on the sign; the contact information of the laboratory supervisor or other responsible person(s) must also be listed.

  4. Entry must be restricted to laboratory staff, animal handlers, maintenance staff and others on official business. **No children.**

  5. All people working in the containment area must be trained in and follow the operational protocols for the project in process. Trainees must be accompanied by a trained staff member. Visitors, maintenance staff, janitorial staff and others, as deemed appropriate, must also be provided with training and/or supervision commensurate with their anticipated activities in the containment area.

  6. Emergency procedures for spill clean-up, BSC failure, fire, animal escape and other emergencies must be written, easily accessible and followed. A record must be made of other people entering the facility during an emergency.


1Biological Safety Cabinet