Biological laboratory safety surveys are conducted on an annual basis in all of the biomedical research and clinical laboratories using biological agents. BSL-3 laboratories are surveyed on a monthly basis. The focus of the survey is to ensure compliance with a number of general safety, biological safety, and chemical safety compliance issues. The Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) department takes a proactive approach to compliance problems found in the laboratories and in most cases facilitates the corrective action process. Follow-ups are conducted within 60 days after the initial inspection to ensure that corrective actions have taken place. The following outlines the biological safety laboratory survey criteria and references the specific guidelines.
The characteristics of a biological agent are: its capability to infect and cause disease in a susceptible human or animal host, its virulence as measured by the severity of the disease, and the availability of preventive measure and effective treatments for the disease.
Current Safety Committee Approval
Each principle investigator (PI) using biological agents must have an approved research protocol on file with EHS. If recombinant DNA (rDNA) is used in a PI’s research, the protocol will be approved by the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC). If there is no rDNA work, the protocol will be approved by the Biological Safety Committee (BSC). Protocols are approved for 5 years and are reviewed on an annual basis. Changes to biosafety approvals must be submitted via the online protocol submission system.
Areas where biological agents are stored or used must bear the universal biohazard symbol. Appropriate locations for biohazard signage include laboratory entrance, incubators, refrigerators, waste containers, and any other equipment where agents are stored or handled. Biohazard stickers can be obtained from biological safety by calling 713-500-4193.
All applicable binders/manuals available
Safety manuals available (Biological Safety manual, Laboratory Specific Written Procedures-specific to each laboratory ). Every laboratory using hazardous chemicals, radioactive, or biological hazards must have a copy of the respective laboratory safety binder/manual in the lab or otherwise readily available. Thoroughly review all applicable safety manuals with laboratory staff.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Available
Protective clothing available: long pants, close toed shoes,lab coat, scrubs, latex gloves, eye glasses, mask or respirator-if required.
Hand Washing Facilities Available
When working in a laboratory, it is good laboratory practice to wash hands on a regular basis, specifically after every change of gloves and before leaving the laboratory. All laboratories should have a hand washing facility available and in working condition, with soap and paper towels present.
Aerosol Minimization Techniques in Place
Care should be taken at all times when working with procedures that could potentially create aerosols. Safety centrifuge cups should be used when centrifuging, and should be opened in a biological safety cabinet. Aerosol producing procedures such as pipetting and mixing of materials should be performed in a biological safety cabinet.
Biosafety cabinets certified within past year
Biosafety cabinet certification should be done by a National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) certified company when installed, moved, or on an annual basis. The biosafety cabinet's (BSC) ability to filter out microscopic particles relies on the seals being intact and the HEPA filter free of micro tears or breaks that can easily occur during moving, installation or careless handling. To ensure continued proper operation, each BSC should be tested and certified at least annually. [CDC/NIH BMBL 5ed]
Common methods for decontaminating biological waste include chemical disinfection and autoclaving. Most biological liquid waste may be disinfected with a 10% bleach solution for a minimum of fifteen and then poured down the drain. Solid waste may be disposed of in a “bio box” which is subsequently picked-up by Environmental Protection for offsite disposal, or autoclaved onsite by laboratory personnel. Observe that all biological waste is stored in secondary containment. Be sure that a suitable receptacle is available for disposing used pipettes. Be sure to properly maintain an autoclave log for your waste.
Appropriate sharps container in use
Contaminated sharps include needles, scalpels, broken capillary tubes, exposed dental wires, pasture pipettes, and broken glass if contaminated with a biological agent. These items must be collected in a sharps container or other puncture resistant container that is color coded or labeled with the universal biohazard symbol. [OSHA 29CFR 1910.1030(d) (2) (viii)]