Standard lab practices

Biosafety Level 1

Biological Safety Levels (BSLs) are a 4-tiered system of protections for laboratories using potentially biohazardous materials. These protocols safeguard laboratory personnel, the environment, and the community.

The lowest of the 4 levels is BSL-1. It establishes procedural standards for labs using agents that are not reasonably expected to be a hazard or pose minimal safety threat.

Every lab must follow standard BSL-1 practices

Higher BSL levels (BSL-2 through BSL-4) simply build upon the BSL-1 foundation, adding layers of containment controls.

BSL-1 is the minimum standard for all recombinant DNA work at WSU.

About BSL-1 laboratories

  • The laboratory is not separated from general traffic patterns in the building.
  • Work is generally conducted on open bench tops.
  • Special containment equipment is not required or generally used.
  • Laboratory personnel have specific training in procedures conducted in the laboratory and are supervised by a scientist with general training in microbiology or a related science.

Standard microbiological practices

  • Access to the laboratory is limited or restricted at the discretion of the principal investigator when experiments are in progress.
  • Work surfaces are decontaminated once a day and after any spill of viable material.

Cross-contamination can result if work surfaces are not regularly decontaminated. Effective decontamination of work surfaces is achieved through the proper use of disinfectants that are effective for destruction of the microorganism of concern. Each laboratory’s biosafety manual lists approved chemical disinfectants that have demonstrated efficacy on the agents used within the lab.

  • All contaminated liquid or solid wastes are decontaminated before disposal.

Liquid wastes may be pretreated with chemical disinfectants before disposal via a lab sink that is connected to the sanitary sewer. Alternatively, liquid wastes (without chemical disinfectants) may be autoclaved prior to disposal via a lab sink that is connected to the sanitary sewer.

Solid wastes contaminated with infectious agents or r/sNA must be managed as solid biohazardous waste for treatment and disposal purposes. Surface disinfection of such wastes is not an appropriate method of treatment.

  • Mechanical pipetting devices are used; mouth pipetting is prohibited.
  • Eating, drinking, smoking, and applying cosmetics are not permitted in the work area. Food may only be stored in cabinets or refrigerators signaled for this purpose.
  • Persons wash their hands: (i) after they handle materials involving organisms containing recombinant DNA molecules and animals, and (ii) before exiting the laboratory.
  • All procedures are performed carefully to minimize the creation of aerosols.
  • In the interest of good personal hygiene, facilities (e.g., hand washing sink, shower, changing room) and protective clothing (e.g., uniforms, laboratory coats) shall be provided that are appropriate for the risk of exposure to viable organisms containing recombinant DNA molecules.

Special practices

  • Contaminated materials that are to be decontaminated at a site away from the laboratory are placed in a durable leak-proof container which is closed before being removed from the laboratory.
  • An insect and rodent control program is in effect.

An insect and rodent control program is only as effective as the lab personnel who implement it. When problems are noted, lab personnel must report the problem to the appropriate party. See your supervisor for that party’s contact information.

Containment equipment (BL1)

Special containment equipment is generally not required for manipulations of agents assigned to BL1.

Laboratory facilities

  • The laboratory is designed so that it can be easily cleaned.

The ability to effectively clean a lab space is essential for work with viable biological materials. Open storage of supplies, personal items and nonessential equipment increases the amount of surface area that is susceptible to contamination in the event of a spill or lab practices that create uncontained aerosols. These items should be placed in closed storage whenever possible.

  • Bench tops are impervious to water and resistant to acids, alkalis, organic solvents, and moderate heat.

If bench paper is used on bench tops where infectious agents or viable materials containing recombinant DNA molecules are manipulated, this bench paper must be discarded at the conclusion of the procedures and the bench top disinfected at least once a day as noted previously under the “Standard Microbiological Practices” section.

  • Laboratory furniture is sturdy. Spaces between benches, cabinets, and equipment are accessible for cleaning.
  • Each laboratory contains a sink for hand washing.
  • If the laboratory has windows that open, they are fitted with fly screens.