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Safety, Health, Environment, and Risk Management

Biological Safety Program

The Biological Safety Program is responsible for providing support to The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston students and personnel concerning the recognition, evaluation, and control of chemical, biological, and physical hazards. Our goal is to provide the safest work environment for all UTHealth employees and the surrounding health science center community, as well as minimizing risk to the environment and property.

The Biological Safety Program is located at CYF in room: CYF G102. They may be reached by phone at: (713) 500-8170 or fax at: (713) 500-8111

ThermoFisher BSC Customer Notification

ThermoFisher has recently been experiencing some isolated issues with glass breakage on the front window of their 6 foot, ThermoScientific -1300 series A2 Biological Safety Cabinets. Potential issues are most likely to occur during transit, or early in the operation of the BSC. Potential issues include the front window being sluggish to move, or becoming jammed, resulting in the glass breaking when force is used to move the front window. There is no recall of these units and ThermoScientific has made changes to their manufacturing process to address this issue.

As stated in the operating manual for these units, “Caution: if the front window jams or is sluggish to move, DO NOT use force!” Discontinue the use of the BSC and do not attempt to repair the unit on your own.

The following models are affected:

Affected Model Numbers:      1307, 1337, 1347, 1357, 1377, 1378, 1387, 1388, 1389, 1397 
Affected Production Dates:    July 11, 2016 – April 24, 2017

The model number and production date can be found on the serial number tag (see photo).

If you have one of the affected models of BSC that was produced between July 2016 and April 2017, that exhibits these issues, please contact Unity Lab Services (800-438-4851) immediately to have the glass inspected and replaced, if needed.

BSC Notice

Cold Room Use and Care

Cold Room

Do you have questions about what should, or should not be done in a cold room? Perhaps you have heard conflicting information on what is acceptable to store in a cold room. Environmental Health & Safety has developed a short, informational poster about what hazards can be associated with cold rooms and how to lower the risk of an adverse event happening with one.  You can download the poster here.

Reminder about PPE use:

This is a reminder to all research personnel that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should not be worn outside of the laboratory setting. Recently there have been instances of people observing researchers wearing in public spaces, specifically using gloved hands to open doors or push elevator buttons. After all, do you really know where that glove has been? 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should not be worn outside of the laboratory setting

Please do not wear gloves or other PPE outside of the laboratory, especially on elevators, in hallways, or in break rooms.

If it is necessary to transport items between labs on the same floor, one hand may be gloved, while the other hand remains without a glove to open the doors between labs. Gloves should never be worn in the elevator or break rooms. Ideally items should be transported using carts and secondary containment, especially when transporting items between floors.

Institutional Biosafety Committee (Biological Agents, Recombinant or Synthetic DNA Molecules)

IBC Protocol Submission

rDNA Guidance

IBC Committee Information

Institutional Biosafety Committee meets on the first Thursday of every month.  Meetings are open to the public, but location and times may vary.  Please contact Environmental Health & Safety (713-500-8100) for further information.

Biological Safety Manual, and Guidance Documents

Biological Safety Training

Select Agents and Toxins Reference Pages

Useful Biological Safety Links

Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS)

Southern Biosafety Association -ABSA Affiliate

National & International

Biological Safety Staff 

Brett Haltiwanger

Brett Haltiwanger, Ph.D., CBSP, Safety Manager
Instructor, School of Public Health
(713) 500-8162
BS:, Sweet Briar College (Biology)
PhD:, Thomas Jefferson University (Microbiology and Molecular Virology) 

Shalaka Kotkar

Shalaka Kotkar, Ph.D., MPH, Safety Specialist
Instructor, School of Public Health
(713) 500-8166
PhD: Purdue University (Cellular and Molecular Microbiology)
MPH: University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (Environmental and Occupational Health Science)

Chad Austin
Chad Austin, Ph.D., Safety Specialist
Instructor, School of Public Health
(713) 500-8161
B.S. Seattle Pacific University (Biochemistry)
Ph.D. University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus (Microbiology)
Christopher Singh

Christopher Singh, Ph.D., Safety Specialist
(713) 500-5311
B.A. Boston University (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology)
M.S. University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (Biomedical Sciences)
Ph.D. University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (Molecular Pathology)