Content that belongs in Safety in Laboratories section (safety/lab)

Biohazard Spill Response

In the event of a biological spill, only properly trained personnel should attempt cleanup, and only if the appropriate tools, PPE, and disinfectants are available. If in doubt, or if the spill is unmanageable, call SOS at (802) 656-2560 to have EHS staff paged. 
For a life-threatening emergency, call 911.

Be Prepared

It is important to have a plan of action in the event of an emergency.

Permits for Biological Materials

It is common, and often necessary, to transfer biological materials while conducting biological research. Because of this, it is important to know that the movement of certain categories of biological agents is tightly regulated by federal agencies such as the CDC, USDA, APHIS, etc. Failure to comply with regulations when transporting regulated biological materials may result in shipment delays, destruction at the port of entry, refusal of the shipment by carriers, and may be subject to fines and/or criminal penalties.

Decontamination and Disinfection

Decontamination of cultures and objects contaminated by biological agents should be routinely performed in microbiological laboratories. Decontamination is a vital component of microbiological safety practice and serves to protect laboratory personnel (as well as others) from infection and the release of infectious organisms to the outside environment (through person-to-person transmission, or contact with fomites). Decontamination of media, work surfaces, and equipment is also necessary to prevent contamination of cultured organisms. 

Transporting Biological Materials

Follow these guidelines to minimize the risk of a spill when transporting biological materials.

Inside of your Lab

Primary containers that have sealable lids are acceptable for moving biological materials within your own lab.


Fomites are objects or materials (such as pens, pencils, notebooks, door handles, clothing, furniture, or personal electronics) that are likely to carry infectious agents when contaminated. Many infectious agents can survive on fomites for extended periods of time.

Sharps Safety

Sharps include all objects that can penetrate the skin, such as:
  • scissors
  • scalpels
  • needles
  • razor blades
  • cryostat/microtome knives
  • microscope slides and coverslips
  • pasteur pipettes
  • serological pipettes
  • pipette tips
  • glass/broken glass contaminated with biological material
  • capillary or hematocrit tubes


Safe Handling

  • Use forceps or a specifically designed blade remover device; never remove scalpel blades from the handle using yo

CITI Online Training

As of November 2017, some of the online biosafety trainings provided by Risk Management & Safety have been replaced with Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Program trainings.


Check your CITI training records.


New required CITI trainings:

  • CITI BSL-1 Basic Course (required for personnel working in a BSL-1 lab) 

Biohazardous Agent Reference Documents

The Biohazardous Agent Reference Document (BARD) is a guidance resource that reviews and summarizes the nature of a pathogen or biotoxin, and offers safety requirements for work with the agent in the laboratory. The document includes characteristics of the agent, laboratory and health hazards, precautions, containment and PPE requirements, spill and disinfection procedures, exposure procedures and required follow-up, and additional references.

General Laboratory Ventilation

Laboratory ventilation involves the use of supply and exhaust ventilation to control lab emissions, potential exposures, and chemical and biological hazards. A general lab ventilation system is designed to to the following:

  • dilute and remove contaminants through general exhaust;
  • provide make-up or replacement air, provide heating, cooling, and humidification; and
  • provide local exhaust for specific lab activities. 


General ventilation does not eliminate a potential exposure; local exhaust is the preferred method.

Syndicate content