Biological Laboratory Practices


Hazards associated with biohazardous materials very widely. Understanding the hazards associated with a biohazard and reducing the quantity used and stored in the lab will decrease the chance of injury.

Avoid storing biohazardous material containers in hard to reach areas. Containers larger than one gallon should not be stored above shoulder height. Biohazardous materials should be segregated by classification and stored alphabetically. Laboratories with large numbers of biohazard classifications may choose to further segregate these hazards. Biosafety Cabinets are not designed for the storage of chemicals or biohazardous materials.


Verify the integrity of all containers. If deteriorated containers are found, dispose of the biohazard promptly or transfer it to a properly labeled new container. Make sure that the container is appropriate for the biohazard being stored. Example: some biohazards are stored as a liquid and if frozen, the container needs to adequately contain the expansion of the liquid and not leak after thawing.


Provide completely sealed secondary containment for all biohazardous material when transferring between work areas. This will prevent release and aerosolizing of the biohazard in the event of an accident.


Inventories should be reviewed on a regular basis to identify deteriorating biohazardous materials before problems develop with the material or containment. Avoid excess purchases, growth or stockpiling of biohazardous material. Having up-to-date inventories improves emergency response capability, helps EHS and IBC with activities such as biohazard waste determinations and safety reviews, and allows principal investigator or supervisor to maintain accountability and security of biohazardous material within laboratory.

  • Registered Users are required to maintain and submit an annual inventory to EHS of biohazardous material for recombinant DNA, Biosafety Level 2 or 3 research activities, Select Agents, High Consequence Livestock Pathogens or Toxins, and others as determined by regulatory requirements.
  • Registered Users are encouraged to maintain an inventory of all other biohazardous materials.

Make sure all labels are legible. Label all containers of biohazardous materials with the complete name, date, origin (human, animal or plant source) and rDNA information, if applicable.

All biohazardous reagents and materials must be labeled with the following information:

  • Red or Orange Biohazard Label
  • Content (Name of Biohazardous Material) and Volume
  • Origin (human, animal or plant source and rDNA information if applicable)
  • Concentration (# organisms/volume, #viable colonies/volume, etc.)
  • Dates (received, prepared, placed in service)
  • Caution Required” and Biohazard Symbol
  • Type of Hazards (i.e. inhalation, skin contact, etc.)
  • Precautions and Controls (i.e. avoid skin contact)
  • Accident Instructions (i.e. wash immediately, etc.)