General Biosafety Guidelines
Biohazardous materials require special safety precautions and procedures. Follow these guidelines when working with infectious agents:
Personal Hygiene Guidelines:
- Wash your hands thoroughly, as indicated below:
- After working with any biohazard
- After removing gloves, laboratory coat, and other contaminated protective clothing
- Before eating, drinking, smoking, or applying cosmetics
- Before leaving the laboratory area
- Do not touch your face when handling biological material
- Never eat, drink, smoke, or apply cosmetics in the work area
- Always wear a lab coat gown or scrub suit, gloves, and a surgical mask when working with infectious agents or infected animals.
- Never wear contact lenses around infectious agents.
- Do not wear potentially contaminated clothing outside the laboratory area.
- To remove contaminated clothing, follow these steps:
- Remove booties from the back.
- Remove head covering from the peak
- Untie gown while wearing gloves
- Remove gloves by peeling them from the inside out
- Remove the gown by slipping your finger under the sleeve cuff of the gown
- Use mechanical pipetting devices.
- Minimize aerosol production.
- Add disinfectant to water baths for infectious substances.
- Use trunnion cups with screw caps for centrifuging procedures. Inspect the tubes before use.
- Use secondary leak-proof containers when transporting samples, cultures, inoculated petri dishes, and other containers of biohazardous materials.
Avoid using syringes and needles whenever possible. If a syringe is necessary, minimize your chances of exposure by following these guidelines:
- Use a needle-locking or disposable needle unit.
- Take care not to stick yourself with a used needle.
- Place used syringes into a pan of disinfectant without removing the needles.
- Do not place used syringes in pans containing pipets or other glassware that require sorting.
- Do not cut, bend, recap or remove used needles.
- Dispose of needles in an approved sharps container.
- Keep laboratory doors shut when experiments are in progress.
- Limit access to laboratory areas when experiments involve biohazardous agents.
- Ensure that warning signs are posted on laboratory doors. These signs should include the universal biohazard symbol and the approved biosafety level for the laboratory.
- Ensure that vacuum lines have a suitable filter trap.
- Decontaminate work surfaces daily and after each spill.
- Decontaminate all potentially contaminated equipment.
- Transport contaminated materials in leak-proof containers.
- Keep miscellaneous material (i.e., books, journals, etc.) away from contaminated areas.
- Completely decontaminate equipment before having maintenance or repair work done.
Clinical and diagnostic laboratories often handle specimens without full knowledge of the material's diagnosis; these specimens may contain infectious agents. To minimize exposure, observe universal precautions when handling any biological specimen. Consider all specimens to be infectious and treat these materials as potentially hazardous.