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Health Careers Education
Biological Laboratory Safety
This course provides the students with practice in OSHA requirements for personal protective equipment, safety showers, eyewashes, fire fighting equipment and procedures, and safe behavior in the lab. The use of MSDS sheets, proper NFPA labeling and proper waste disposal are also included. This course also covers safety guidelines for technicians working in laboratories involved in biological testing and research. The curriculum addresses topics related to biological hazards, risk assessment, and prevention of contamination, effective use of disinfectants and sterilization procedures, toxic chemicals commonly encountered in biological laboratories, mechanical hazards typically found in biological laboratories, and the procedures and regulations related to the transport and shipment of hazardous materials.
Lara Skaggs

-Maintain safe laboratory work area.

1. Explain the general laboratory rules for eating, drinking, tasting, smelling and pipetting.

2. Recognize common laboratory hazards.

3. Describe the proper storage of flammables and compressed gases.

4. Describe the proper storage of general chemicals.

5. Describe procedures for safely managing spills of any kind.

6. Keep work area free from clutter.

7. Identify first aid supplies, training facility personnel, medical information, emergency protection areas and evacuation plan.

8. Model safe practices in laboratory settings.

9. Identify authorized personnel and procedures for securing laboratory facilities, equipment and materials/chemicals


-Identify and Appropriately Utilize Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

1. Identify and model the correct usage of appropriate personal protection equipment required in various biotechnology laboratory settings.

2. Demonstrate the appropriate personal safety equipment for each job performed.

3. Justify the selection of appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE) required in various laboratory scenarios provided.

4. Choose and defend the choice of laboratory safety equipment from scenarios provided.

5. Follow appropriate protective measures while working around UV light.

-Locate and Operate Laboratory Safety Equipment.

1. Identify and locate the operation of all laboratory safety equipment.

2. Demonstrate appropriate usage, testing and basic maintenance of laboratory safety equipment.

3. Justify the selection of appropriate laboratory safety equipment from various laboratory scenarios provided.

4. Describe and model use of laminar flow, fume hoods and biological safety cabinets.

-Maintain Required Safety Training and Utilize Hazard Communication Programs

1. Define the chemical hazard communication (Right to Know) program for laboratories and other places of business.

2. Complete and maintain OSHA safety certification.

3. Identify the various safety symbols and signs (labeling for hazardous communication).

4. Describe how the hazardous communication labeling is utilized to support laboratory safety procedures.

5. Describe the appropriate storage and availability of the MSDS book.

6. List the major parts and functions of the MSDS sheet.

7. Given labeled chemical sample jars, obtain from the MSDS specific information on the safety and handling of the chemicals.

8. Given scenarios, determine the hazards, proper storage, handling, safety equipment and emergency procedures for chemicals by using the MSDS.

9. Explain how the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) material hazards program for labeling in laboratory addresses: Health, Flammability, Reactivity and Specific Hazards of Chemicals..

10. Define, interpret and follow a Chemical Hygiene Plan.

11. Observe rules of electrical safety

E. Demonstrate the Safe Handling, Storage and Disposal of Hazardous Materials and Chemicals per MSDS and Worker Protection Standards (WPS)

1. Demonstrate the proper storage, handling and disposal of inorganic, organic and chlorinated chemicals.

2. Describe and follow the clean-up procedures used for flammable, corrosive and organic materials.

3. Define the appropriate industrial hygiene practices for a chemical, based on its MSDS using exposure limit nomenclature.

4. Recite and explain the acid and water rule.

5. Describe the warning odors and explain what they signify.

6. Explain the 4R's of using chemicals.

7. Describe and follow universal precautions for biological pathogens

8. Demonstrate Safe Behavior and Awareness of Physical Hazards.

9. Define the two main personal safety rules.

10. Describe the major physical hazards encountered in various laboratory settings.

11. Describe the sources of the physical hazards in a laboratory.

12. Demonstrate appropriate usage of safety equipment and personal protection equipment to avoid injury from physical hazards.

13. Explain the expected safety behavior for carrying chemicals or climbing in the lab.

-Identification of Biological Hazards

1. Define the term biohazard and identify standard biohazard warning signals.

2. Describe the characteristics of materials deemed as "biological hazards".

3. Identify potential sources of biohazardous material in laboratory settings.

4. Define and use the following terminology in the appropriate context: pathogen, infectious, etiological agent, carrier, aerosol, and bioaerosol.

5. Explain the factors that contribute to the biohazardous nature of each of the following potential sources of infection: microorganisms, viruses, biological fluids, tissue cultures, recombinant DNA, and laboratory animals.

-Risk Assessment of Biological Hazards

1. Define the term laboratory-acquired infections (LAIs) and identify those pathogens and activities most often associated with these infections.

2. Explain how laboratory technicians utilize knowledge of the relative pathogenicity of specified organisms to determine the class of risk of each potential biological hazard.

3. Discuss the probability of exposure to potential biological hazards based upon the type of activity a laboratory technician is performing.

4. Discuss how laboratory technicians determine and assign a class of risk to their assigned activities.

5. Outline the steps necessary to implement the appropriate risk management strategy for a given scenario.

-Bloodborne Pathogens

1. Identify and discuss the risks associated with handling blood, biological fluids, and tissue samples.

2. Compare and contrast the epidemiology and risk exposure of common bloodborne pathogens.

3. Describe and demonstrate the universal precautions that must be utilized when coming into contact with any type of biological fluid.

4. Discuss the vaccination recommendations and/or requirements for laboratory personnel based upon their assigned laboratory activities.

5. Describe the steps involved in post-exposure management of potential exposure to bloodborne pathogens.

6. Based upon acquired knowledge and skills, suggest and justify recommendations regarding laboratory design requirements, infection prevention, and the management of significant exposures.


1. Explain why the generation of aerosols poses a potential hazard to laboratory personnel.

2. Identify routine laboratory procedures that generate aerosols.

3. Identify safety protocols that reduce exposure of laboratory personnel to aerosols.

-Use of Disinfectants and Sterilization

1. Discuss the characteristics of the germicidal agents commonly used in laboratories.

2. Define and differentiate between the following terms: disinfection, sanitation, and sterilization.

3. Define and differentiate between the following terms: disinfectant and antiseptic.

4. Discuss the relative disinfection resistance of microorganisms commonly encountered in laboratory settings.

5. Discuss the relative antimicrobial effectiveness of common germicidal ingredients.

6. Identify the human health hazards associated with commonly used antimicrobial agents.

K. Compressed Gas Cylinders

1. Demonstrate an understanding of the various methods that are used to compress gases.

2. Describe the hazards associated with compressed gases and compressed gas cylinders.

3. Demonstrate the ability to properly store compressed gas cylinders.

4. Describe how to identify different types of compressed gas cylinders.

5. Demonstrate the safe handling techniques that should be used when working with compressed gas cylinders.

6. Explain and demonstrate how to test for leaks within a compressed gas system.

-Toxic Chemicals

1. Discuss the general effects and health concerns of the following classes of toxic chemicals utilized in biological and biotechnology laboratories: irritants, sensitizers, and allergens; neurotoxins; mutagens and carcinogens; and embryotoxins and teratogens.

2. Identify the common chemical hazards found in biological and biotechnology laboratories.

3. Define and discuss the relevance of the following terms: acute toxicity, chronic toxicity, and LD50.

4. Describe the major route of exposure and low-dose toxicity of the common chemical hazards found in biological and biotechnology laboratories.


1. Explain the potential health hazards associated with overexposure to formaldehyde.

2. Describe the relevance of the concepts of "permissible exposure limits" (PELs) and "short-term exposure limits" (STELs).

3. Demonstrate the ability to find information about formaldehyde content and exposure on a substance's container label and Material Safety Data Sheets.

4. Describe the roles of ventilation systems and personal protective equipment in working safely with formaldehyde.

5. Explain the proper spill cleanup and decontamination procedures in case of incidents involving formaldehyde.

6. Discuss the basic first aid that is appropriate for different types of formaldehyde overexposure.

7. Demonstrate an understanding of the basic information regarding the "medical surveillance plan" in the Formaldehyde Standard.

-Hazardous Material Transport & Shipment

1. Identify the proper shipping methods for hazardous materials in air, water, and land.

2. Recognize information needed on shipping papers for specific types of hazardous wastes.

3. Utilize proper labeling, marking, and placarding required for hazardous waste transportation.

4. Demonstrate an understanding of the documentation for shipping papers and manifests.

-Electrical Safety

1. Explain how electricity functions, and define and correctly apply common electrical terms such as volts, current, and amperes.

2. Identify common electrical hazards and the types of problems they can cause.

3. Explain how circuits function and the role of fuses and circuit breakers.

4. Discuss the concept of "grounding" and how it relates to outlets, three-prong plugs, and ground fault interrupters.

5. Discuss how electrical equipment functions and what safeguards to take when repairing or maintaining it.

6. Demonstrate appropriate emergency procedures in the case of an accident or emergency involving electricity.

-Laboratory Hoods

1. Compare and contrast the characteristics of fume hoods and biological safety cabinets.

2. Explain what type of protection each hood is designed to provide.

3. Demonstrate the ability to recognize situations that call for the use of a hood.

4. Describe how hoods work mechanically.

5. Explain and demonstrate how to test hoods to make sure they are functioning correctly.

-Laboratory Ergonomics

1. Explain the parts of the body that are most often affected by ergonomic problems.

2. Describe how to arrange work areas so that laboratory technicians will be able to function without putting undue stress or strain on their bodies.

3. Identify what the "neutral" positions are for the major areas of the body.

4. Identify the types of movements that can put undue stress and strain on the body.

5. Identify the types of movements that are the least stressful on the body.

6. Demonstrate simple stretching exercises that can help prevent ergonomic problems.

-Biosafety Levels

1. Explain the Center for Disease Control (CDC) biosafety level classification system and its applications in planning laboratory design and regulating lab activities.

2. Describe and differentiate between the four biosafety levels.

3. Identify the special safety practices, special equipment, and facility design requirements for each of the four biosafety levels.

-Preventing Contamination in the Laboratory

1. Identify situations that could lead to contamination.

2. Describe the general principles that should be employed to eliminate or contain contamination.

3. Identify the engineering controls used to contain contamination in the teaching facility's laboratory.

4. Identify and describe the safe work practices that should be used to eliminate and/or contain contamination.

-Ultraviolet Light

1. Discuss the potential health hazards of exposure to UV light.

2. Identify the laboratory activities during which a technician may potentially be exposed to UV radiation.

3. Describe the protocols that a laboratory technician must utilize when working with UV light.

4. Explain why germicidal lamps in hoods or rooms should be utilized only when the area is not in use.


1. Identify the primary safety concerns related to operating an autoclave.

2. Identify those materials that can and cannot be autoclaved.

3. Describe the concerns related to preparing materials for autoclaving.

4. Describe the steps that should be taken to prevent boilover and superheating of autoclaved liquids.

5. Demonstrate correct operation of the autoclave when processing a variety of materials.

-Zoonoses and Animal Hazards

1. Define the term zoonotic and explain how it pertains to laboratory activities.

2. Identify the common zoonotic diseases of laboratory animals, pests, and wild animals.

3. Utilize knowledge of zoonotic diseases to discuss the risks associated with handling animal tissue and tissue culture.

4. Describe the safeguards that should be utilized when working with infected animals and tissue samples.

5. Explain the appropriate steps to utilize in the disposal of animals and animal tissue.

6. Discuss other potential risks involved with handling animals, including allergies and direct injuries from animals.

7. Describe the appropriate actions to take following exposure to animal-related hazards.

-Recombinant DNA (rDNA) and Transgenic Organisms

1. Define recombinant DNA and describe in general terms how it is utilized in biotechnology to create transgenic organisms.

2. Explain why recombinant DNA poses a potential hazard to biotechnology laboratory technicians.

3. Discuss the factors related to the safety of recombinant DNA experiments as related to host organism and/or vector and the nature of the DNA sequence.

4. Describe the safety measures that must be implemented when working with recombinant DNA and transgenic organisms.

Career Majors That Sequence This Course
Career Cluster Pathway Career Major
Health Science Biotechnology Research and Development Assistant Laboratory Animal Science Technician
Health Science Biotechnology Research and Development Biological Laboratory Assistant
Health Science Biotechnology Research and Development Biological Laboratory Technician
Health Science Biotechnology Research and Development Biological Laboratory Technologist I
Health Science Biotechnology Research and Development Biological Laboratory Technologist II
Health Science Biotechnology Research and Development Biological Research Technician
Health Science Biotechnology Research and Development Laboratory Animal Science Technician
Health Science Biotechnology Research and Development Laboratory Animal Science Technologist
Health Science Biotechnology Research and Development Pre-Medical / Medical Research Analyst
Health Science Biotechnology Research and Development Pre-Veterinary/Veterinary Research Analyst
Health Science Biotechnology Research and Development Veterinary Research Technician