EHS

Biological Safety

This program is designed to protect employees, students and the community from potential health hazards stemming from the use of infectious agents in various laboratory settings.

I. Purpose/Scope

To establish and maintain an effective Biological Safety Program in order to protect employees, students and the community from potential health hazards.  This program is intended to provide the combination of standard and special microbiological practices for work with infectious agents in various laboratory settings. The requirements of this program apply to all university employees and students engaged in the laboratory use of infectious agents. 

II. Definitions

  • Biosafety Level 1:  work with microorganisms not known to cause disease in healthy human adults and of minimal potential hazard to personnel and the environment under ordinary conditions of use.
  • Biosafety Level 2:  work with microorganisms of moderate potential hazard to employees and the environment.
  • HEPA:  High-efficiency particulate air filter.  Used in ventilation systems; has a 99.97 percent removal efficiency of 0.3 μm particles.
  • Infectious Agent (Biohazard):  a type of micro-organism, bacteria, mold, parasite or virus which normally causes, or significantly contributes to the cause of, increased morbidity or mortality of human beings.]
  • Principal Investigator:  the faculty member in whose assigned space a research activity is conducted.
  • Sharps:   Items capable of cutting or piercing i.e., syringes, needles, blades, broken glass, cover slips, slides, capillary tubes and scalpels.

III.  References

Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention and National Institutes of Health; Fifth Edition, Feb. 2007.

IV.  Responsibilities

Environmental Health and Safety Department (EH&S)

  • Establish and update the written Biological Safety Program.
  • Identify and classify biological agents utilized at the university.
  • Provide information on the handling and disposal of biohazards.
  • Provide consultation/training to departments according to their specific needs.
  • Recommend personal protective equipment and engineering controls.
  • Respond to emergency situations. 

Principal Investigator/Course Instructor

  • Ensure that proper biological safety procedures are implemented and adhered to.
  • Clearly label all biohazards and biohazard work areas.
  • Establish specific emergency procedures specific to the biohazards present.
  • Ensure all employees and students under their direction are trained with respect to biological safety and laboratory procedures.
  • Document all training. 

Technicians, Teaching Assistants, Laboratory Assistants, Students

  • Follow all established laboratory policies and procedures.
  • Notify instructor/supervisor of accidents, violations, or unsafe conditions.
  • Participate in all required biological safety training.
  • Standard Microbial Practices

Biosafety Levels 1 and 2:

Following are standard microbiological practices that apply to all biosafety levels.  These practices are common sense principles that protect personnel, the experiment, and the environment.  They include the following:

  • Access to the laboratory may be limited or restricted at the discretion of the laboratory supervisor when experiments or work with cultures and specimens are in progress.
  • Decontaminate work surfaces after use, after any spill of viable materials, and at least once per day.
  • Eating, drinking, smoking, applying cosmetics, handling contact lenses and storing food are prohibited in work areas.  Food must be stored in cabinets or refrigerators solely designated for this purpose and should be located outside the work area.
  • Use mechanical pipetting devices; mouth pipetting is prohibited.
  • Restrict the use of needles and syringes to those procedures for which there are no alternatives; use needles, syringes, and other “sharps” carefully to avoid self-inoculation; and dispose of “sharps” in leak and puncture resistance containers.
  • Policies for the safe handling of sharps are instituted.
  • Wash hands after handling cultures or animals, after removing gloves, and before leaving the room.
  • Carefully perform all procedures to minimize the creation of aerosols and splashes.
  • Protective eyewear should be worn for activities and procedures in which splashes are anticipated.
  • Laboratory coats or gowns are recommended.
  • Wear lab coat, gloves and safety glasses to prevent contamination from the infectious material, and remove protective equipment prior to leaving the work area.

Biosafety Level 2:  In addition to the standard microbial practices listed above, the following practices shall be followed when working with or around biological safety level 2 agents/materials:

  • Safety cabinets or other appropriate combinations of personal protective equipment and physical containment devices (centrifuge safety cups, sealed centrifuge rotors, containment caging for animals) should be used for the following:
  • Procedures with a high potential for creating infectious aerosols.
  • Procedures using high concentrations or large volumes of infectious agents.
  • Handle all liquid and solid waste as though infectious.
  • Decontaminate work surfaces on completion of work or at the end of the day and after any spill or splash of viable material with disinfectants that are effective against the agents of concern.
  • Dispose of all biohazardous waste in accordance with applicable regulations.
  • Wash hands after handling any biohazardous material and before leaving the laboratory.
  • Take special care to avoid skin contamination with infectious material; gloves should be worn when skin contact with infectious materials is unavoidable.
  • Broken glassware must not be handled directly by hand, but must be removed by mechanical means such as a brush and dustpan, tongs, or forceps.

V. Safety Equipment

The risk of exposure of laboratory personnel can be minimized by the use of carefully selected safety equipment. This safety equipment should effectively isolate the worker from the toxic or infectious material being processed.

  • Biological Safety Cabinets: 
    • Biological safety cabinets are used extensively to prevent the escape of aerosols and droplets and to protect materials from airborne contamination.  The types used at CSUN are Class II biological safety cabinets, which provide protection to the worker, the environment, and the products.  Both the supply and the exhaust air are HEPA-filtered.  These cabinets are partial containment devices, which if used in conjunction with good laboratory practices, can dramatically reduce the risk of exposure to infectious aerosols and droplets.
    • Although biological safety cabinets with HEPA filters protect operators from exposure to particulates, including bacteria, viruses, and so forth, they do not absorb chemical vapors or gases.  For this reason biological safety cabinets with re-circulating airflow (Class II biological safety cabinets) cannot be used for protection against gases and vapors as there is the potential for buildup of hazardous concentrations within the cabinet.
    • Biological safety cabinets systems are tested and certified semi-annually to ensure they are functioning properly.
  • Personal Protective Equipment:
    • There may be hazards that require specialized personal protective equipment in addition to safety glasses, laboratory gowns, and gloves. For example, a procedure that presents a splash hazard may require the use of a mask and a face shield to provide adequate protection.

VI.  Biological Waste

For biological waste information, refer to the California State University, Northridge Medical Waste Management Plan.

VII.  Training

  • The goal of the biosafety training program is to ensure that all individuals potentially at risk are adequately informed about the hazards in the laboratory, their risks, and what to do if an accident occurs.
  • Every employee and student working in a laboratory should know the location and proper use of personal protective equipment and basic emergency response procedures.
  • The instructional method(s) to be used are not mandated. A formal session in a classroom setting, informal group, individual discussion with supervisor, posted notices, or handout booklets can all be effective means to provide the necessary training.
  • Training shall be provided when students and employees are initially assigned to a laboratory where biological hazards are present and also prior to assignments involving new materials or work procedures.

VIII. Record Keeping

Proper records shall be prepared and maintained to document all training activities. Departments must keep all training records for a period of at least three years.

IX. Revision Record

REVISION

CHANGES

DATE

1.0

Establishes Procedure

January 2002

2.0

Format change & update information

October 2009

2.1

Review, update format, migrate to web one

February 2014