6.1.1 Standard Microbiological Practices

  • The laboratory supervisor must enforce the institutional policies that control access to the laboratory.
  • Persons must wash their hands after working with potentially hazardous materials and before leaving the laboratory.
  • Eating, drinking, smoking, handling contact lenses, and applying cosmetics and storing food for human consumption must not be permitted in laboratory areas. Food must be stored outside the laboratory area in cabinets or refrigerators designated and used for this purpose.
  • Mouth pipetting is prohibited; mechanical pipetting devices must be used.
  • Policies for the safe handling of sharps, such as needles, scalpels, pipettes, and broken glassware must be developed and implemented.  Whenever practical, laboratory supervisors should adopt improved engineering and work practice controls that reduce risk of sharps injuries.

Precautions, including those listed below, must always be taken with sharp items.  These include:

  1. Careful management of needles and other sharps are of primary importance.  Needles must not be bent, sheared, broken, recapped, removed from disposable syringes, or otherwise manipulated by hand before disposal.
  2. Used disposable needles and syringes must be carefully placed in conveniently located puncture-resistant containers used for sharps disposal.
  3. Non-disposable sharps must be placed in a hard walled container for transport to a processing area for decontamination, preferable by autoclaving.
  4. Broken glassware must not be handled directly.  Instead, it must be removed using a brush and dustpan, tongs, or forceps.  Plasticware should be substituted for glassware whenever possible.
  • Perform all procedures to minimize the creation of splashes and/or aerosols.
  • Decontaminate work surfaces after completion of work and after any spill or splash of potentially infectious material with appropriate disinfectant. 
  • Decontaminate all cultures, stocks, and other potentially infectious materials before disposal using an effective method.  Depending on where the decontamination will be performed, the following methods should be used prior to transport:
  1. Materials to be decontaminated outside of the immediate laboratory must be placed in a durable, leak proof container and secured for transport.
  2. Materials to be removed from the facility for decontamination must be packaged in accordance with applicable local, state, and federal regulations.
  • A sign incorporating the universal biohazard symbol must be posted at the entrance to the laboratory when infectious agents are present.  The sign may include the name of the agent(s) in use and the name and phone number of the laboratory supervisor or other responsible personnel.  Agent information should be posted in accordance with the institutional policy.
  • An effective integrated pest management program is required.  Please see Appendix G in the BMBL, 5th Edition.
  • The laboratory supervisor must ensure that laboratory personnel receive appropriate training regarding their duties, the necessary precautions to prevent exposures, and exposure evaluation procedures.  Personnel must receive annual updates or additional training when procedural or policy changes occur.  Personal health status may impact an individual’s susceptibility to infection, ability to receive immunizations or prophylactic interventions.  Therefore, all laboratory personnel and particularly women of child-bearing age should be provided with information regarding immune competence and conditions that may predispose them to infection.  Individuals having these conditions should be encouraged to self-identify to the institution’s healthcare provider for appropriate counseling and guidance.