Laboratory Safety Audit Information

During some recent laboratory audits, EHS noted these common laboratory safety deficiencies regarding biosafety cabinets.:

Past due certification on Biological Safety Cabinets (BSC's). All cabinets need to be certified annually.
Recommendation: The contractor for cabinet certification needs to be contacted. Suggested sources for certification of BSC's are available on the EHS web site

Use of Bunsen burners in the BSC's.
Recommendation: Bunsen burners should not be used in BSC's. If onemustbe used, then one with a pilot light should be chosen because the continuous flame of other models can produce turbulence and the heat produced can damage the filter.

Excessive Equipment in cabinet & blocking front intake grill. This can create excessive turbulence which can put the technician at risk. Keep cabinet free of unnecessary equipment. Do not use cabinet for storage.

Recommendation: Do not place items over front grill (work 6" back) and do not block back grill.

Follow these additional guidelines to improve safe work with BSC's:

  • Do not allow others to walk rapidly behind you.
  • Be aware of drafts from ventilation systems, doors, windows, fans, etc.
  • Plan procedures carefully. Work should travel in one direction, L-R or R-L.
  • Minimize movement of contaminated items over clean items (work from clean to dirty).
  • Start-up and decontaminate with Wescodyne or suitable disinfectant. Let cabinet run at least 5 minutes to purge. Wipe each piece of equipment or apparatus.
  • Separate clean and contaminated items.
  • Hold tubes, bottles, and other vessels as horizontal as possible.
  • Use horizontal pipette discard pan with disinfectant. Do not use vertical canisters in or outside of cabinet.
  • Wrap ampule with alcohol swab when breaking open.
  • Ultraviolet lights are not needed if good technique is followed.
  • Do not overload cabinet. Nothing should pass out of cabinet until work is complete.
  • Place clean items toward front, contaminated to rear.
  • Use disposable loops, swabs, needles, syringes, etc. whenever possible.
  • Equipment that causes turbulence (centrifuge, blender, etc.) should be placed in back 1/3 of work surface. All other work should stop while apparatus is running.
  • Decontaminate after work is complete, purge 5 minutes.
  • Use 1:10 bleach solution, and/or Wescodyne for decontamination of work surfaces.
  • Wash hands and arms before and after work. Wear clean lab coat or gown and gloves.
  • Do not move arms in-out-across cabinet work area.

Never work with biohazardous materials in a clean air bench.

Safety Alert Index