Policies and Guidelines


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  • Standardized Plans

    Below are minimal acceptable standards for waste disposal, training and emergency plans for activities involving biohazards. Supervisors of such activities (i.e., the principal investigator, course instructor, or laboratory director) are responsible for determining whether these are sufficient for their work and ensuring that personnel are adequately informed and trained. With IBC approval, these plans may be modified to suit specific project needs.

    Waste disposal plan

    UMMC has a written waste management plan; Management of Medical/Infectious Waste; a copy can be obtained by calling Environmental Health and Safety (4-1980).

    The waste management plan includes the following elements:

    • designation of medical/infectious waste;
    • handling (segregation, packing and storage) of medical/infectious waste;
    • destruction (transport, treatment and disposal) of medical/infectious waste;
    • related matters, such as staff training.

    Chemical waste, regardless of whether or not deemed a biohazard must be disposed of through the Chemical Safety Office (call 4-1981). All radioactive waste must be disposed of through the Radiation Safety Office regardless of whether or not deemed a biohazard (4-1078).

    All glass slides, slide covers and test tubes that appear to be medical/infectious waste must be disposed of in sharp containers. All chemical or radioactive sharps must be collected in puncture proof sharp containers and disposed of through the Chemical Safety Office or the Radiation Safety Office.

    Waste disposal options include:

    • Solid medical/infectious waste and anything that appears to be medical/infectious waste can be disposed of without treatment in approved red Medical Waste containers (supplied with the universal biohazard emblem, lined with 1.5 mil red plastic bags that have the biohazard emblem). These containers can be acquired from Environmental Services (extension 55239) which, upon notification, will provide waste pick-up and container replacement. Investigators are responsible for on-site container management such as ensuring that normal trash is not put therein and calling for pick-up service. Pick-up should be requested whenever one of the following occurs: (1) the container is full; (2) waste has been stored in the container for 7 days above 6oC; or (3) waste has been stored for 90 days at 0oC or below. 
    • Liquid medical/infectious waste, such as biological stocks and used culture media, must be decontaminated before disposal using an approved process. Two options are available: (1) Autoclaving at 121oC and 15 psi for either 50 minutes if waste containers are on metal trays/pans or 75 minutes if on plastic pans. (2) Chemical disinfecting by adding 1 part household bleach to 9 parts liquid waste (final concentration 10% by volume), mix and let stand at least 15 minutes. Other acceptable chemical disinfectants are listed in Management of Medical/Infectious Waste. Decontaminated liquids may then be disposed of through the sanitary sewer system, followed by copious amounts of water unless they contain hazardous chemicals such as ethanol, methanol, bleach, etc. 
    • Hazardous-appearing non-hazardous waste (i.e., petri dishes with agar, agar on which non-pathogenic organisms have been grown, tissue culture flasks, etc.) may be disposed of without treatment in approved red Medical Waste containers (see Solid Medical/Infectious Waste, above). Alternatively, this waste may disposed of as general solid waste only if rendered unrecognizable, for example, by autoclaving plasticware and defacing all biohazard emblems on containers and bags.

    Training plan

    Supervisors are responsible for instructing and training all personnel involved in any activity that includes biohazards. Training must include, but need not be limited to, standard and special microbiological practices and procedures, and proper use of safety equipment (primary barriers) and laboratory facilities (secondary barriers) to ensure safety of personnel, and containment of the biohazard during routine work or if accidents occur. Practices, techniques and barriers for each biosafety level (BSL-1, BSL-2, BSL-3 and BSL-4) are detailed in: 

    These guidelines also give recommendations of when health surveillance of project personnel is advised.

    Project personnel must read pertinent sections of applicable guidelines. In addition to training outlined therein, the IBC requires the following:

    • BSL-1 - Initial personnel training should be reinforced by retraining and updates whenever necessary. This could be accomplished during annual employee evaluations.
    • BSL-2 - Initial personnel training must include familiarization with practices, procedures and barriers described for BSL-2 in the guidelines. Employees should be able to clearly state the nature of the risk, explain how to avoid exposure, and know what to do in case of accidental exposure. Employees must complete and sign a Statement of Informed Consent; copies should be (1) sent to the IBC, (2) maintained by the supervisor and (3) placed in the laboratory’s Biosafety Manual before work with biohazards begins.

    Annual retraining is required; the content and format may vary to suit each lab. For example: (1) attend continuing education seminars periodically sponsored by the IBC; (2) view training videos available from the IBC on topics such the design and proper use of biosafety cabinets and (3) participate in supervisor-conducted hands-on retraining or review of literature pertinent to their activity. The IBC will distribute an Annual Biosafety Update Form to document who was retrained and how this was accomplished.

    • BSL-3 - All BSL-2 Requirements must be met; however, initial personnel training should be rigorous and routinely subject to examination. Annual retraining by the supervisor is required and must include a demonstration of personnel proficiency in the use of standard and special microbiological practices and procedures, proper use of primary and secondary barriers and knowledge of emergency procedures. The IBC will distribute an Annual Biosafety Update Form to document who was retrained and how this was accomplished. 
    • BSL-4 - Contact the IBC Chair.  

    Emergency plans

    Any group working with a known or potential biohazard shall have an emergency plan that describes procedures to be followed upon accidental contamination of personnel or the environment. For activities requiring containment at BSL-2 or higher, a written emergency plan must be on file with the IBC and one copy maintained in the laboratory’s Biosafety Manual. Exceptions and modifications requisite for specific types of activities must be approved by the IBC. Supervisors are responsible for ensuring personnel are knowledgeable of and trained in all emergency procedures, including the requirement to file an incident report.

    • Any overt or suspected contamination of personnel or environment must be reported to the project supervisor or other emergency contact person listed on the laboratory biohazard sign.
    • In the event of personnel exposure, immediately decontaminate exposed skin by vigorously washing with iodine or antimicrobial soap for 15 minutes. If eyes are contaminated, flush them with clean water, preferably at an emergency eye wash station for at least 15 minutes. Immediately following decontamination, report the exposure incident to Student/Employee Health (Room N-128, Monday-Friday, 7:30 AM - 4:00 PM, extension 41185) which will provide examination, treatment and record keeping of the incident. That office will also determine if follow-up treatment or additional consultation (in-house or external) is required. The UMC Emergency Room can provide after-hours examination and treatment; however, personnel must still notify Student/Employee Health of the incident as soon as possible.
    • Minor spills on equipment or work surfaces should be picked up with absorbent material (paper towel) and the surface decontaminated with disinfectant (i.e., fresh 10% bleach, 70% ethanol). For larger spills, add concentrated disinfectant to the spill (i.e., 1 part bleach for 9 parts spilled liquid), wait 1 hour then pick up and dispose of liquid/solid waste as specified in the Waste Disposal Plan. This waste may now contain chemical reagents that must be disposed of through the Chemical Safety Office (4-1981).
    • Accidents resulting in aerosols require immediate evacuation of the room for a period of one hour before lab personnel re-enter the lab to clean up and decontaminate the exposed area. In the event of the release of an appreciable amount of aerosol outside the biosafety cabinet, contact Physical Plant (extension 41420) and request airflow to and from that room be restricted until decontamination and clean-up have been completed. DO NOT request airflow restriction in BSL-3 rooms designed to operate under negative pressure with HEPA-filtered exhaust.
    • Space decontamination can be achieved with ultraviolet lights in rooms so equipped. The IBC can assist in arranging special space decontamination needs.