Department Policy for the Use of Infective Agents: Rules And Regulations

Published: JANUARY 2000

The following has been modified from precautionary measures, guidelines and standard methods established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA); and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Purpose: Living microorganisms have the potential of producing human disease. Therefore, the safety of each investigator in the laboratory depends on whether the following rules are observed.


1. Blood and other body fluids, if used, from all patients should be considered infective.

All microbial work involving culture in liquid media and/or potential human pathogens must be performed on paper towels moistened with disinfectant. All bacteria and fungi will be treated as pathogenic.
To clean up spills of blood or blood-containing fluids, cultures; 1) put on gloves and any other necessary barriers, 2) wipe up excess materials with disposable towels and place the towels in a container for sterilization, 3) disinfect the area with either a commercial EPA-approved germicide or household bleach (sodium hypochlorite). The latter should be diluted from 1:100 (smooth surfaces) to 1:10 (porous or dirty surfaces): the dilution should be no more than 24 hold. When dealing with large spills or those containing sharp object such as broken glass, first cover the spill with disposable toweling, then saturate the toweling with commercial germicide or a 1:10 bleach solution and allow it to stand for at least 10 min. Clean by discarding paper towels in a biohazard bag and then autoclave.
If a slant or liquid culture is spilled or dropped, the area should be flooded with disinfectant and wiped up with paper towels. The disinfected glassware should be thrown in the broken glassware container. The paper towel should be placed in a red biohazard waste can. Hands should be washed immediately afterwards.
2. All blood and body fluid specimens should be put into a well-constructed container with a secure lid to prevent leakage during transport. Care should be taken when collecting each specimen to avoid contaminating the outside of the container.
Cultures should be carried in a test tube rack when moving around the laboratory. Likewise, cultures should be kept in a test tube rack on the bench tops when not in use.
3. All persons processing blood and body-fluid specimens should wear gloves. Masks and protective eyewear should be worn if it is anticipated that mucous membranes could become contaminated with blood or body fluids. Gloves should be changed and hands washed after completion of specimen processing.
Gloves should be worn for touching blood and body fluids, mucous membranes or non-intact skin of all patients, for handling items or surfaces soiled with blood or body fluids, and for performing venipuncture and other vascular access procedures. Gloves should be changed after contact with each patient. Masks and protective eyewear or face shields should be worn during procedures that are likely to generate droplets of blood or other body fluids to prevent exposure of mucous membranes of the mouth, nose and eyes. Gowns or aprons should be worn during procedures that are likely to generate splashes of blood or other body fluids.
4. For routine procedures, such as histologic, pathological studies or microbiological culturing, a biological safety cabinet is not necessary. However, biological safety cabinets should be used whenever procedures are conducted that have a high potential for generating droplets. This includes activities such as blending, sonicating and mixing.
5. Mechanical pipetting devices should be used to manipulate liquids in the lab. Mouth pipetting must not be done.
6. Use of needles and syringes should be limited to situations where there is no alternative. Syringes will be disposed of in biohazard containers on the lab bench.
7. Laboratory work surfaces should be decontaminated with an appropriate chemical germicide after a spill of blood or other body fluids and when work activities are completed. See above (item 1)
8. Contaminated materials used in laboratory tests should be decontaminated before reprocessing or be placed in biohazard bags, and autoclaved for disposal.
9. Scientific equipment that has been contaminated with blood or other body fluids should be decontaminated and cleaned before further use or being repaired in the laboratory or transported to the manufacturer.
10. All persons should wash their hands after completing laboratory activities and should remove protective clothing before leaving the laboratory.
A lab coat or lab apron must be worn as a protective covering during each laboratory period. This covering must have buttons, a tie or a zipper (i.e. not one that must be removed over your head), and be kept completely buttoned or zipped for the duration of the lab period. Unless a major spill occurs, the lab coat will be autoclaved at the end of the semester and discarded.
11. There should be no eating, drinking, or smoking in the work area.
12. Hair (shoulder length or longer) must be pinned or tied back so that none falls from the shoulders to prevent hair from accidentally catching on fire. Hats with brims may not be worn in the laboratory unless they are worn with the brim facing backwards.
13. Shoes must be worn during each laboratory period. No sandals (open toe) or bare feet are permitted.
14. Sitting on the laboratory bench is prohibited.
15. The application of any cosmetics, including lotion, is not permitted. Insertion of contact lenses is not permitted (see chemical hygiene plan).
16. No objects (pencils, pens, gum, fingers, lozenges, etc.) should be placed in mouth while in the laboratory.  Pens and pencils used in the laboratory will stay in the laboratory in designated containers.
17. No equipment, media, or microbial cultures should be removed from the laboratory.


A first aid kit is located in the lab (gauze bandage, adhesive bandage, bandage tape, sterile swabs, burn cream, antiseptic wipes and hydrogen peroxide); red plastic biohazard containers are on bench tops for disposal of used slides, toothpicks, pipettes, microcentrifuge tubes, oxidase test cards, syringes; regular trash cans for disposal of all uncontaminated paper, paper towels, gauze and extinguished matches; designated box container for disposal of broken glassware; red biohazard waste cans for disposal of plastic disposable tubes, used Petri dishes, contaminated soft trash, e.g. paper towels.
Basic Lab Safety Regulations and Rules are posted. Eyewash stations are present and marked.  All labs contain several biohazard containers (small bench boxes, waste cans).

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