Biological Laboratory Practices


Persons working with biohazardous materials must be aware of potential hazards and must be trained and proficient in specific safety practices and techniques. The following biosafety practices are fundamental in using biohazardous materials safely:

Identify and evaluate risks to develop a laboratory specific exposure control plan

Procedures should be developed for the specific biohazards present in the laboratory. Microbiological procedures or techniques to handle unknown biohazardous material, such as diagnostic use, should be designed to assume the worst-case risk scenario. Knowing how infectious organisms are transmitted and what their infectious dose is can help in evaluating the risk and avoiding infection. Information about the organism(s) should be gathered prior to commencing work with them.

Know where information resources for biohazardous materials can be found

Collect and communicate all the facts and information resources for biohazardous materials to appropriate personnel to minimize exposure risk. Before working with biohazardous materials, assess potential spill or release hazards. Become familiar with the general spill response procedures. Be sure the Laboratory Biosafety Spill Kit/Station and Emergency Notification Signage are current, available and maintained.

Make sure all biohazard signs and labels are present

Post appropriate biohazard signs and labels to assure only authorized personnel, informed of potential risks, enter areas where biohazardous material are used.

Utilize appropriate safety equipment and facility design for the Biosafety level

Primary containment safety equipment, such as biological safety cabinets, is designed to reduce or eliminate exposure to biohazardous materials. Secondary containment facility design is intended to contain biohazardous materials in the laboratory so that they cannot cause harm to the general public or the environment.

Maintain good housekeeping

Good housekeeping is the most important step to improve safety. Good housekeeping also leaves a good impression upon visitors. Floors, laboratory benches, equipment, and other surfaces should be disinfected routinely. All biohazardous material waste should be autoclaved, sterilized, or placed in a biohazard Unwanted Materials container for disposal.

Maintain good personal hygiene

Personal hygiene, such as frequent hand and laboratory clothes washing, should be observed at all times. Hands should be washed frequently, even after wearing gloves, and scrubbed vigorously with soap and water for a full 30 seconds. The physical removal of organisms from the skin is just as important as using a disinfectant. Contaminated hands should be kept away from the mouth, eyes, and non-intact skin.

Avoid unattended experiments

If biohazardous material operations are carried out with no one present, it is the responsibility of the worker to design and prevent accidental release in the event of interruption in utility services. Appropriate arrangements should be made for periodic inspection of the operation.

Avoid Working Alone

When working with biohazardous materials, it is advisable to have a second person present, or at a minimum, maintain contact via telephone.

Avoid Horseplay

Practical jokes or other behaviors that might confuse, startle, or distract another worker, are forbidden when biohazardous materials are present.

Food, drink, cosmetics and contact lens

Eating, drinking, and the application of contact lens or cosmetics are forbidden in areas where hazardous materials are used including biological materials. Do not store food in the same refrigerator with hazardous materials. Food used for research should be labeled, “Not for Human Consumption”.

Universal Precautions

All blood or Other Potentially Infectious Materials (OPIM) must be considered infectious regardless of the perceived status of the source individual.


Use proper equipment that is in good condition. Never use chipped or cracked glassware. Shield pressurized or vacuum apparatus. Label contaminated equipment.