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

Key Safety Questions

These are examples of some key safety questions for lab workers.

1.) Planning for laboratory work:

What are . . .

Biological Safety Cabinets FAQs

1. I need to treat my cell culture plates with volatile chemicals. Should I use a Biological Safety Cabinet (BSC) or a Fume Hood (FH) to do my work? - A Fume Hood will not protect your cells from contamination, and therefore, should not be used if you require aseptic conditions for your work (e.g., if you need to pass cells or continue an experiment in which cells must be placed back in the incubator). You could use the Fume Hood for a terminal procedure, such as RNA isolation with Trizol.

Biological Safety Cabinet Certification and Repairs

Biological Safety Cabinets must be tested periodically in order to ensure that they are working properly and providing a safe research environment. This process, known as certification, should be performed at least once a year by a specialized technician. In addition, BSCs should also be certified when leaving the factory, after repairs, and after being moved. 

Unattended Operations

If you are doing laboratory work involving hazardous substances that will occur continuously or overnight -- when no one is present --  you need to fill out this Unattended Operations form. Place the form on your laboratory door for reference by emergency responders.

How to Work Safely in a Biological Safety Cabinet

Biosafety cabinets afford the best protection and are more effective when maintained and used properly. To accomplish this goal, it is necessary that:

Classes of Biological Safety Cabinets

There are three classes of BSCs:

The Role of Biological Safety Cabinets in Research

Biological Safety Cabinets (BSCs), or biosafety cabinets, are primary containment devices utilized in laboratories for the handling of biohazardous agents. They are routinely used for a wide variety of applications, such as human and animal tissue culture, bacterial and viral work, transfection or infection of cells with recombinant DNA (rDNA), clinical sample manipulation, and animal care.

Guide for Supervisors

As a lab supervisor, you have a responsibility to maintain a safe and productive lab, and manage liability as an employer. The best way to do this is to participate fully in the UVM Lab Safety Plan and document your participation. There are four basic components of this participation: leadership, delegation, administration and follow-up. We have compiled a list of general guidelines to follow for each of these areas.


Building-Specific Safety Features

Laboratory buildings vary widely across campus. It is essential for laboratory faculty, staff and students to understand the unique safety features of the building in which they work in order to prepare for an unexpected emergency.  Features to become familiar with may include emergency equipment such as:

  • Location of fire alarm pull stations 
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Sprinklers
  • Eyewash, drench hose and/or emergency shower units


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