Safety in a microbiology laboratory is essential in preventing infection because virulent and/or potentially pathogenic microorganisms are cultured (grown) there. In addition to microorganisms, some chemicals used in this laboratory are potentially harmful. Many procedures involve glassware, open flames, and sharp objects that can cause trauma/ damage if misused.
You will find some of these rules and procedures listed in the beginning material of your laboratory manual. If you find any safety rules or procedures listed here appear to be in conflict with those given in your laboratory manual, please resolve it by asking your course instructor or teaching assistant (TA) for clarification.
General Safety Rules and Procedures
Recreational activities are prohibited inside the laboratory
- Smoking, eating, and drinking in the laboratory are prohibited in the laboratory at any time.
- Keep hands and other objects away from your face, nose, eyes, ears, and mouth. The application of cosmetics in the laboratory is prohibited.
Maintain proper lab attire
- Only closed-toe shoes are to be worn in the laboratory. Sandals or open-toed or canvas shoes are not permitted because of the constant danger of cuts and infections from broken glass found on the lab floors and the possibility of chemical spills.
- Laboratory coats must be worn and buttoned while in the laboratory. Laboratory coats should not be worn outside the laboratory.
- Wear gloves.
- Protective eyewear (safety goggles) must be worn when performing any exercise or procedure in the laboratory.
- Long hair should be secured behind your head to minimize fire hazards or contamination of experiments.
- Use appropriate universal precautions with all biological fluids.
- Treat all organisms as potential pathogens.
- Work areas/surfaces must be disinfected before and after use. Disinfect all contaminated wastes before discarding them.
- Flame transfer loops, wires, or needles before and after use to transfer biological material.
- Do not walk around the laboratory with transfer loops, wires, needles, or pipettes containing infectious material.
- Hands must be washed before leaving the laboratory.
- Upon entering the laboratory, coats, books, and other paraphernalia, e.g., purses, briefcases, etc., should be placed in specified locations and never on benchtops (except for your lab manual).
- Dispose of waste in proper containers
- Report any broken laboratory equipment immediately, and report any broken glass, especially those containing infectious materials.
- Do not remove any materials from the laboratory without the written permission of the course instructor or TA.
- Never pipette anything by mouth as chemicals or infectious materials can be accidentally ingested. Always use pipetting devices.
- When handling chemicals, note the hazard code on the bottle and take the appropriate precautions.
- Do not pour chemicals down the sink.
- Return all chemicals, reagents, cultures, and glassware to appropriate places.
- Do not pour biohazardous fluids down the sink.
Safe handling of equipment
- Always clean the lenses of your microscope before putting them away. Use the appropriate tissue paper and cleaning solution for this purpose.
- Glassware should be washed with soap and water, then rinsed with distilled water.
- Learn to use fire safety equipment, such as fire extinguishers, emergency blankets, etc., to put out the fire.
- Be careful around Bunsen burners. Flames cannot always be seen.
- Turn off the incinerators before leaving the laboratory.
- Familiarize yourself with safety equipment in the laboratory and emergency escape routes.
Reporting the Accidents
If you are injured in the laboratory, immediately contact your course instructor or teaching assistant (TA). Spills, cuts, and other accidents should be reported to the instructor or TA in case further treatment is necessary.