7.1.1 Standard Microbiological Practices

  • The animal facility director establishes and enforces policies, procedures, and protocols for institutional policies and emergency situations.  Worker safety and health concerns are addressed as part of the animal protocol review.  Each project is subject to approval by the IACUC (Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee), and possibly the IBC (Institutional Biosafety Committee). 
  • A safety manual specific to the animal facility is prepared or adopted in consultation with the animal facility director and appropriate safety professionals.  The safety manual must be available and accessible.  Personnel are advised of potential hazards and are required to read and follow instructions on practices and procedures.
  • Supervisors must ensure that animal care, laboratory and support personnel receive appropriate training regarding their duties, animal husbandry procedure, potential hazards, manipulations of infectious agents, necessary precautions to prevent hazard or exposures, and hazard/exposure evaluation procedures (physical hazards, splashes, aerosolization, etc.).  Personnel must receive annual updates or additional training when procedures or policies change.  Records are maintained for all hazard evaluations, employee training sessions and staff attendance.
  • Appropriate medical surveillance program is in place, as determined by risk assessment.  The need for an animal allergy prevention program should be considered.  Facility supervisors should ensure that medical staff is informed of potential occupational hazards within the animal facility, to include those associated with research, animal husbandry duties, animal care and manipulations.  
  • 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.  
  • Personnel using respirators must be enrolled in an appropriately constituted respiratory protection program.
  • A sign incorporating safety information must be posted at the entrance to the areas where infectious materials and/or animals are housed or are manipulated.  The sign must include the animal biosafety level, general occupational health requirements, personal protective equipment requirements, the supervisor’s name (or other responsible personnel), telephone number, and required procedures for entering and exiting the animal areas.  Identification of specific infectious agents is recommended when more than one agent is being used within an animal room.
  • Security-sensitive agent information should be posted in accordance with the institutional policy.  Advance consideration should be given to emergency and disaster recovery plans, as a contingency for man-made or natural disasters.
  • Access to the animal room is limited.  Only those persons required for program or support purposes are authorized to enter the facility.  All persons including facility personnel, service workers, and visitors are advised of the potential hazards (natural or research pathogens, allergens, etc) and are instructed on the appropriate safeguards.
  • Protective laboratory coats, gowns or uniforms are required to prevent contamination of personal clothing.  Gloves are worn to prevent skin contact with contaminated, infectious and hazardous materials, and when handling animals.  Gloves and personal protective equipment should be removed in a manner that minimizes transfer of infectious materials outside of the areas where infectious materials and/or animals are housed or are manipulated.  Persons must wash their hands after removing gloves and before leaving the areas where infectious materials and/or animals are housed or are manipulated.  Eye and face and respiratory protection should be used in rooms containing infected animals, as dictated by the risk assessment.
  • Eating, drinking, smoking, handling contact lenses, applying cosmetics and storing food for human use should only be done in designated areas and are not permitted in animal or procedure rooms.
  • All procedures are carefully performed to minimize the creation of aerosols or splatters of infectious materials and waste.
  • 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.  When applicable, 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. Needles and syringes or other sharp instruments are limited to use in the animal facility when there is no alternative for such procedures as parenteral injection, blood collection, or aspiration of fluids from laboratory animals and diaphragm bottles.
  2. Disposable needles must not be bent, sheared, broken, recapped, removed from disposable syringes, or otherwise manipulated by hand before disposal.  Used disposable needles must be carefully placed in puncture-resistant containers used for sharps disposal.  Sharps containers should be located as close to the work site as possible.
  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.
  5. Equipment containing sharp edges and corners should be avoided.
  • Equipment and work surfaces are routinely decontaminated with an appropriate disinfectant after work with an infectious agent, and after any spills, splashes, or other overt contamination. 
  • Animals and plants not associated with the work being performed must not be permitted in the areas where infectious materials and/or animals are housed or are manipulated.
  • An effective integrated pest management program is required.  Please see Appendix G in the BMBL, 5th Edition.
  • All wastes from the animal room (including animal tissues, carcasses, and bedding) are transported from the animal room in leak-proof, covered containers for appropriate disposal in compliance with applicable institutional, local and state requirements.  Decontaminate all potentially infectious materials before disposal using an effective method.